Later on in the morning, the topic turned to the question of how to make money from live video. This was the million-dollar question fueling the “Models, Measurement, and Monetization” session. The panel featured Allison Stern, CMO and Co-Founder, Tubular; David Wong SVP, Digital Product Development, Nielsen; Eric Korsh, President, Mashable Studios; Peter Gorenstein, Chief Content Officer, Cheddar; and Borja Perez SVP, Digital and Social Media at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. It was moderated by Rich Greenfield of BTIG.

One of the best things about live for Wong and Nielsen is that live is inherently easy to measure. There’s a defined time period, as compared to on-demand’s long tail. When the discussion moved to what measurement is best for live, Wong avowed his idea that views are not a good means of measurement for live. What works for television may not necessarily work for live – instead of focusing on how many viewers there are at a given time, like traditional television, we should instead be focusing on how long the average audience watched as this may be more advantageous. This gives a better sense of time spent. Perez, who looks at both the linear and digital worlds, focuses on total audience, noting that Facebook integrations for pre-shows and red carpets of award shows allow for them to create a total number they can report back to advertisers.  

Greenfield, who spends much time thinking about how traditional networks are monetizing, then turned the conversation to what monetization of live content should actually look like. Stern believes that it shouldn’t look like traditional 30 second spots. Gorenstein jumped in noting that Cheddar doesn’t do 30-second spots and instead figures out how to integrate their sponsors into the content, going as far as to state that Cheddar could sustain sponsor integration and “brought to you by” content for an 8-hour broadcast schedule. Korsch both agreed and disagreed, stating that while Mashable does live integration, he does not feel they could scale up to 8 hours’ worth of content a day. There’s nothing different between these integrations and “people onstage making Texaco ads live” back during the early days of television. Midroll doesn’t necessarily work for live, as an ad served during a live stream of a car chase will make someone jump over to another stream. This, to Korsch, is why monetization for live has not yet started in earnest. For Mashable, it’s still a gimmick.

For Perez, the way to monetize is branded content. Noting that the live streaming audience is younger than the traditional television audience, he cautioned that it is very risky to embed a clear commercial message or be at risk of losing that audience. As Wong would later note, this is a new audience that either does not watch as much television or does not have a television, making it incremental to an advertiser.

But what about Facebook’s share? As Greenfield noted, Facebook does not make money off of live streams like Cheddar, Mashable, Telemundo. Yet. They may be making money off the ads surrounding them, but they aren’t making money off of the streams themselves yet. This will change. But this requires there to be better content first. Given the way Facebook builds audiences off of live, you need to spend a few minutes to let an audience emerge. The ways people will broadcast across platforms will be different. To Stern, it’s a bit of a gold rush at the moment on Facebook Live. Media companies not doing it are making a mistake as it’s a chance to grow both their live and on demand video footprints.

Ultimately, the fragmented marketplace gives consumers more choice. From a measurement perspective, Wong stated that Nielsen was looking to cover as many people as possible so that they could actually see if a daily returning audience to Snapchat delivered more value than an on-demand flow of Facebook or YouTube. Ultimately, that’s what the measurement industry is trying to do – define what things are so that the industry can accept, adopt, and sell off it.