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Leonie Mercedes
Leonie Mercedes 26 October 2017

“Trading war stories” at the Digital Leaders Banquet: Interview with Jake Ward, Groovy Gecko

There’s just a month to go before the sixth Digital Leaders Banquet in London, which brings together the UK’s most influential senior marketing leaders. In advance of the event, we caught up with Jake Ward, business development director for video streaming company Groovy Gecko, to find out why he’s returning to the banquet this year.

Video is fast becoming the medium of the mobile web.

At last count, a reported 300 hours of video is uploaded on YouTube every 60 seconds, Facebook sees 100 million hours of daily video watch time and 250 million Snaps are saved to memories every day. Cisco predicts internet video traffic will grow fourfold from 2016 to 2021. With so much visual content competing for your customer’s attention, how can businesses make a splash with the medium?

This is where Groovy Gecko, an online video company that helps brands broadcast live video and audio, comes in. As Jake Ward, business development director at Groovy Gecko, explains, video streaming, in particular, is a medium that, in the last two years alone, has really come into its own, driven in no small part by the introduction of Facebook Live.

Launching to select users in August 2015, and gradually rolling out to regular users since then, Facebook Live lets any Facebook user stream live video to a captive audience virtually instantly. Its low barrier to entry has put the ability to broadcast live into the hands of anyone with a smartphone and a Facebook account. But what does it mean for businesses? What outcomes can they expect from video streaming campaigns?

According to Ward, different companies have different goals with the medium. “Some are trying to grow their presence on the platform, so they’re looking to increase the number of likes on their page, [while] others want to get their message out to as many viewers as possible,” he explains.

And, on a network such as Facebook, there are potentially millions of people who might view your content. Last month, more than 125,000 people tuned in to watch a giant game of poker on Virgin Games’ Facebook page via Facebook Live. In this game of “Car Park Poker”, giant playing cards were dealt in parking spaces, each covered by a car that would drive away to reveal the hand.

Facebook users (over the age of 18, of course) got to play the game by calling out the highest hand in the stream’s comment section for the chance to win £5,000.

Groovy Gecko managed production of the event, and streamed the interactive video directly to Facebook while moderating questions from the audience. It created a surge of traffic for Virgin Games as “Car Park Poker” viewers logged on to the gaming site.

Over the last 18 months, Groovy Gecko has streamed nearly 300 Facebook Live events, and Ward has observed that the outcomes of these campaigns tend to vary depending on the business. He’ll be at the Digital Leaders Banquet next month, after attending his first banquet last year.

“I find it a really interesting event, because you meet a lot of different people, [and last year I got to] catch up with people I already knew, or hadn’t seen for a while, which was valuable.”

Ward describes the event as an opportunity to “trade war stories” freely with peers in a casual environment. “There was a lot of conversation about clients, what they’re doing and what they’re expecting, where people have had great successes and also horrible failures,” he says.

“It’s nice, even if you’re not mentioning any names, [to talk] about the projects you’ve done, what worked, and what didn’t. It’s a really open and engaging discussion around different ideas.”

Given who is present at the banquet, there will almost certainly be someone else at the event who would have experienced similar challenges to you, so it could be an opportunity to pick up ideas. For example, Ward says that, at last year’s banquet, he had a conversation with someone who had been brought into quite an old-fashioned, traditional business to advise on digital transformation.

“It was interesting to listen to her challenges, and what she had to overcome,” he says. “There was a group of maybe three or four of us, and almost everybody in the group had some experience of what she was going through, and had some helpful tips for her.”

He said that, almost on the fly, the group was able to construct a digital transformation strategy for her going forward – not that she’d even had to ask for it. The group of digital leaders could make suggestions based on what she’d tried, and discuss what had worked and what hadn’t.

“[The banquet is] a great way to meet and engage with your peers,” Ward says. “Not everyone agrees and not everybody has the same experience, but it’s a really interesting way to see a cross-section of people who are working in very similar areas to yourself, and talk about all their different types of experiences and how different things work for different people.”

The Digital Leaders Banquet will take place on November 30, at Ironmongers’ Hall in the City of London. Previous attendees have included Unilever, EE and Oracle. Apply to attend now.

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