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This Side-by-Side Marketing Test Shows 3 Ways Meerkat Is Soundly Beating Periscope

Some intriguing takeaways

Bartender Karen Grill films a social video for Bolthouse Farms. Josh Lurie

The battle between Meerkat and Periscope for video livestreaming supremacy is going strong, and brands are quickly picking sides.

While Meerkat, the SXSW darling, has started inking deals—like the one with CMT and Mountain Dew—Nestlé recently ran the first sponsored Periscope stream. In both cases, marketers spent big to build buzz leading up to their livestreams. Results of the initiatives have not yet been released. 

Now, Campbell's-owned Bolthouse Farms is running an interesting experiment this summer to find out how the apps stack up against each other without any paid media.

Over 10 weeks, Bolthouse Farms is livestreaming with popular bartenders in Los Angeles to promote healthy cocktails that can be made with the company's juices. At 3:30 p.m. PT, Bolthouse will livestream the fourth episode with Bar Rescue judge Joseph Brooke, who will whip up a summer drink for Bolthouse's Periscope and Meerkat viewers.

As the bartenders show how the drink is made, two Bolthouse Farms employees will film simultaneously—one with the Periscope app and the other with Meerkat.

While the content itself is the same, there are some interesting differences in how people tune in.

"I was convinced going into this that Periscope was going to be leader, not just from a follower perspective, but from a viewer and engagement perspective—that's not happening at all," said Pamela Naumes, Bolthouse Farms' senior director of brand engagement.

So far, 650 people have watched Bolthouse's three livestreams across both apps. From the first week to the third week, Meerkat's audience grew from 25 to 205, while the number of Periscope viewers dropped. (Bolthouse had 119 Periscope viewers for the first stream, but by the third stream, it was down to just 62.)

Naumes attributes Meerkat's edge to three things:

1. Meerkat lets creators schedule a livestream 24 hours before it starts. Once a stream is scheduled, a URL is automatically created that Bolthouse can then push out to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to remind people to tune in. Periscope doesn't offer any scheduling options—people simply hit a button and start livestreaming.

Naumes explained that the campaign is being done on a shoestring budget, meaning the posts do not include paid ads. Instead, it is leaning on local bloggers and the bartenders themselves to promote the program.

2. Naumes said the scheduling feature means that viewers can subscribe to Bolthouse's streams. Each time the brand starts streaming, the app pings subscribers' phones. To be fair, Periscope does the same thing, but the app is hooked into Twitter, making users more likely to turn off the constant reminders, especially if they follow a lot of people and the push notifications get annoying.

3. Naumes' final reason why Meerkat is killing it for her brand is all about engagement. Folks who use Meerkat comment and ask more questions. Those comments are then automatically tweeted out from consumers' own accounts, and that builds social buzz.

"By consumers asking questions, they are throwing it out onto their own social channels and driving more follows," Naumes said.

The livestreaming series runs through July 30, but if the growth continues, Bolthouse Farms is considering making it a permanent weekly program.

"Week-over-week, we're seeing more viewership, so my gut tells me that if we continue to see this, we're not going to end it in July," Naumes said.

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