Insights

Up Periscope! Disintermediating media and consumers

August 05, 2015

It was the peculiar combination of me walking Hadrian's Wall, my beloved football team signing the Dutch midfielder Georgino Wijnaldum, and a James Bay concert, which made me see how Periscope and Meerkat are going to change marketing.

There I was on holiday, walking across the ancient Northumberland dales feeling joyfully remote from the digital tumult of London life, when my Periscope app alerted me to the fact the Newcastle United Football Club were broadcasting a live stream from the hallowed turf of st James Park to announce their new signing. I had downloaded the Periscope app recently which allow anyone with a camera phone to instantly stream a live broadcast from where they are.

the most immediate opportunity is for organisations is to build direct relationships with consumers through ‘Brand Journalism’

My immediate thought at the time was that this was going to be the much healed catalyst to citizen journalism I had always longed for.

The world is full of examples and speculations about how journalism, activism and even disaster relief has been democratised to the people. Whether it is twitter’s role in the Arab spring, the influence of bloggers, or the open source Ushahidi communities that saved lives during earthquakes and uprisings. Yet true citizen journalism - where any citizen may effortlessly create their own live news channel from where they stand - this was surely waiting for a revolutionary free app like Periscope or Meerkat?

It may well be that this future is still imminent and BBC’s breaking news will soon be rivalled by every bystander, eyewitness and voyer with a smart phone. Yet what the signing of Georgino Wijnaldum demonstrated was that it is actually likely to be brands who use the channel first to create unmediated relationships with followers.

it is actually likely to be brands who use the channel first to create unmediated relationships with followers

Ironically this may actually cause the weakening of journalism as brands like NUFC can now broadcast to me directly without having their message and authenticity filtered by sports journalists. However, for this to be the spur for citizen journalists Periscope and Meerkat will need to overcome a technical challenge I discovered a couple of days later at a James Bay concert and again during the inaugural Newham 10k run. On both occasions I tried to open Periscope to broadcast to my (very few) followers where I was and what was happening. On both occasions the app informed me that my 4G signal was not strong enough to broadcast. On the assumption that anything that a citizen journalist wants to broadcast is likely to be outside (away from WiFi) and surrounded by people also using their phones, then their experience is likely to remain unbodradcastable to the wider world.

So I think the most immediate opportunity is for organisations is to build direct relationships with consumers through ‘Brand Journalism’, whilst my most immediate concern is hoping NUFC win their first game of the season next week.