Economic Opportunities in Singaporean Live Streaming

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In the last decade, a new method of data communication between humans has emerged on the internet. In the form of the fastest-growing internet industry, live streaming, users broadcast themselves live, usually to entertain others, sometimes with educational purposes. In the beginning, the method was a novelty on various platforms, but later became more organized and commercial with the emergence of live video game streaming on Twitch in 2011. It has then transformed into an industry with its own set of marketing norms and infrastructure, most notably in Asia. As of 2016, the live streaming Singapore industry has a market worth of $30.29 billion and expected to reach $70.05 billion by 2021. The increasing demand for internet access, rising of the gaming industry and demand for video and real-time interaction are major drivers for this rapid growth of the industry. Singapore has been seen as the regional hub and a testbed for taste makers due to its high internet literacy and penetration rates as well as its adaptation for new technologies. The country is often seen as an entry point for companies trying to expand into Asia. As a result, 43% of web sales from the entire Southeast Asia region are transacted in Singapore. Pioneers of the live streaming infrastructure in Asia such as Twitch and Bigo Live have already made their marks, with Twitch holding its first gaming convention outside of North America, Twitchcon 2017 in Suntec City, Singapore due to significant transaction rates in the gaming industry with partnerships of game developers and publishers.

Advantages of Live Streaming in Singapore

With these projects being supported, it will provide opportunities for live stream technology companies to help support these enterprises in their digital projects, also present and future.

An overseas business mission had also stated that it would enhance the same possibility of connecting with potential overseas clients through various technology platforms. Live streaming Singapore is one of the methods outlined in the budget that businesses could qualify for funding to attain capabilities. Live streaming technology is also one of the key steps in this digital transformation and finally with COVID-19, it has an automatic focus shift on digital solutions for businesses.

The Enterprise Development Grant supported a wide array of enterprise projects. One of the projects in the list was overseas expansion projects, and found under this category included attaining overseas clients, projects, or exhibitions. An example mentioned was SMEs charging for creating AI solutions based on their customer’s needs. This is similar to some of the retail opportunities that would develop from live streaming, as noted earlier SME and micro business retailers could use this platform to showcase products and services in a much simpler way.

In 2019, the Singapore Government announced the “2020 Budget”. Part of the budget supported a wide range of businesses in their digital transformation. It recognized digitalization is necessary in this modern age economy. Included in the Budget were many incentives and opportunities for businesses, one of them being the Enterprise Development Grant.

Economic Opportunities in Singaporean Live Streaming

Brand sponsorships involving direct promotion of a brand’s product is one of the most lucrative methods of monetization. Product placement is naturally seamless for streamers to execute, where they will use or wear a certain product on stream and verbally promote it to their viewers. Often, the company providing the product will have the streamer sign a sponsorship contract, and in return, they will pay the streamer as well as provide free/discounted products. Due to the strong engagement and purchasing power of viewers, companies are willing to invest significant amounts into influencer marketing, with the aim of long-term brand awareness and increased sales.

Display advertising is usually in the form of a sponsorship with the advertiser where the streamer will have a clickable display ad on his/her info section below the video, and exchange between rev-share arrangements or a set CPC. The effectiveness of these methods has led to higher CPM rates on Twitch than that of YouTube.

Ad breaks allow them to run a full-screen display ad or a video spot, where a broadcaster might set a reminder for a certain time in their content to trigger an ad break. Viewers that have adblock software enabled won’t affect the streamer as much as VOD content, as it’s reported that adblock usage is significantly lower among live content viewers.

Monetization in the live streaming context is rather diverse compared to traditional content platforms. By targeting specific demographics, advertisers are able to maximize the efficiency of their ad spend. Unlike pre-roll/mid-roll/post-roll ads on YouTube, live streamers have the option to integrate ads into their stream content itself, through ad breaks and display ads.

Monetization through Advertisements

In addition, broadcast programs with high skipping incentives are less likely to sustain viewership throughout the breaks, mostly due to the ability to toggle between different streams. Broadcasters have to employ viewership retention strategies in order to direct traffic towards ad-enabled content. An example may be taking the case of popular DOTA 2 player SingSing, who on several occasions displayed a video of himself reacting to a funny YouTube video that would eventually lead the audience into an ad-enabled break. SingSing’s case is an application of native advertising, which is a more effective alternative for content providers to generate outcomes compared to mass-produced 30-second ad spots. Nonetheless, the efficacy of this method is quite dependent on the broadcaster’s creativity and audience receptiveness. SingSing’s case is something that may not work for everyone, and the data sample size for native advertising in such an application in Singaporean live streams is currently inconclusive.

Online advertisements play a significant part in the massive revenue generated by live streaming. It is the number one form of monetization for broadcasters in Singapore. The prevalence of ad blocking and skipping among Singaporean audiences is a challenge that broadcasters have to face. Ad blocking technology is usually built into web browsers, which filters out ad content like banners, videos, and text. Singapore ranks 6th globally in terms of ad block incidence at 27% of total internet users.

Sponsorship and Brand Collaborations

In today’s society, sponsorship can bring various positive attributes to a company’s brand image and awareness. This creates a reason for companies to participate in a higher level of sponsorships if it is able to increase purchase intentions, which can be achieved as the consumer is highly involved with the sponsored party. An example of a well-known gaming team, “Team Solomid,” has sponsors including, but not limited to, HTC gaming, Geico Insurance, HyperX, and much more. This has increased the company awareness of these smaller competitive gaming product companies as TSM has won many titles in worldwide tournaments and leagues. This is a very high return sponsorship for the sponsors as TSM gaming has a higher income of percentage of more loyal customers that would purchase their products as an indirect way to support TSM by using their products.

Sponsorships are a kind of help that some companies offer to a certain individual or group. It ranges from advance payments to event support. Sponsorship is a high financial supportive system where the sponsor is able to have visual and audible advertising of its product. This is beneficial for the sponsor in terms of company awareness. It also creates prestige and changes brand attitudes. Normally, a company would sponsor a certain individual or group to create a positive impact of their brand on the consumers, ultimately affecting purchase intentions and, in turn, would be a profitable exchange for the sponsored party.

Product and Service Promotion

When influencers promote a product, it is commonly shown that the brand has provided a set of products for the influencer to take a picture or a short video with. An example would be a beauty influencer promoting a brand of makeup or skincare products. This is commonly done as the brand would like to generate media content to further promote their product. With media content in the form of videos and pictures, this will then be shared onto the influencer’s social media platforms. This leads to the creation of a series of new media which is very different from traditional print screens or TV commercials. This is more appealing, especially to the younger audience who are heavy users of social media, showing a significant shift in media advertisement consumption in developed countries.

Based on a recent study on the demographics of social media users in Singapore, it was found that YouTube is being used by 96% of the Singaporean population. This opens up a huge platform for social media influencers to promote products and services. In the same research, it was found that there are 89% mobile device users in Singapore constantly browsing or working on their mobile devices. This is a direct correlation to the convenience that traditional blog posts have lost.

In recent years, Singaporean social media influencers have engaged in product and service promotions on their platforms to increase their income. This trend is led by the success of Xiaxue, one of the pioneer social media influencers in Singapore and the region. Before the success of social media influencers, promotions have traditionally been done in blog posts, a form of media which is losing its popularity. This trend is less seen amongst traditional bloggers compared to the new generation social media influencers. A recent study shows that 75% of blog readers have switched to reading on social media. Social media is growing as the preferred form of media, along with technological advancements in mobile devices. Given the shift in media consumption behavior, it is a natural move for brands to want to promote their products and services through social media influencers and capitalize on the usage of this new and growing media.

E-commerce Integration

This principle can be quite lucrative, provided the product or service being promoted has a high level of demand from the viewer. This is because live streaming creates a degree of interactivity with the buyer that cannot be achieved through other forms of media. It is possible to gauge over a short time whether promotion of the product or service through the live stream is having the desired effect. Viewer interest can be measured through an increase in traffic to the promoter’s website, feedback left by consumers of the product in question, and most importantly, an increase in revenue from sales.

The main idea behind using live streaming to market a product or service is to create a more revealing and realistic impression for the viewer, and to increase consumer interest in the product or service. If successful, consumer interest in the product is converted into an actual purchase. This is done through the use of e-commerce. E-commerce (Electronic Commerce) is the purchasing of a product and/or service through the use of the internet. This can include online shops, online banking, and online ticket purchasing. An example of integrating e-commerce and live streaming could be in creating an online shop or selling items through an online auction while advertising your product and demonstrating its use via a live stream. An example of a service would be to take bookings for an event such as a music or sports event through a live stream promoting the event. Viewers who are interested may be inclined to make a booking after seeing the promotion and having their questions answered in real time.

Live streaming first began in 1996, where its first debut was in the USA, and has further developed into a cultural phenomenon in Singapore, the country from which I live in. The emergence of live streaming and its potential to be yet another source of income for Singaporeans as a digital career or platform for businesses holds great promise. The so-called “streamers” of Singapore can potentially become entrepreneurs of their own, and with the government easing up on regulations for digital media and ideas, such as The Infocomm Media Masterplan, it is a plan aimed at developing a vibrant digital economy and a cohesive digital society that will allow Singaporeans to seize opportunities in the digital future. They can rest assured they will have an easier time making a name for themselves and plying their trade, especially with regards to the media industry. An example would be on a tax incentive, where a maximum of 400% tax deduction without a dollar cap for companies’ first three years of qualifying for the new start-up tax exemption scheme. This can be done from the year of assessment (YA) 2020. Such beneficial schemes can guarantee that newer start-ups and small media companies have a higher chance of success and peace of mind as they take less risk when entering an unsure and unpredictable market.

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