For the past few years, BrightTALK has done something unique and incredibly valuable for the webinar/webcast community. They present an annual summary of key trends, statistics, and viewing patterns collected from the library of client and internal web presentations hosted and delivered on their technology during the previous year. I don’t know of any other vendor who opens up their books in this way and gives such an insight into the real performance metrics of actual webinars.
This year’s look at 2012 data was presented on January 31. I couldn’t make the live event, but BrightTALK is heavily geared towards on-demand access of web events and I was able to easily view the archived presentation. If you want to watch it yourself, the viewing link is https://www.brighttalk.com/r/kCW
If you decide to watch the presentation, be forewarned… It’s fairly dry. Slide after slide of charts, with a very quick interpretation or summarization of the key points to take in on each one. The BrightTALK presenters (Brian Stark, VP of Corporate Development, and David Pitta, Director of Demand Generation) assume that they are speaking to an audience of their own customers who are familiar with BrightTALK’s webinar approach and capabilities.
They also make no apologies for being completely centered on their own company and the webinars actually produced by their client base. I don’t recommend extrapolating all their findings to a wider universe of webinars delivered on other technologies and for other purposes. BrightTALK is heavily focused on supporting demand-generation webinars, and their data almost certainly would not apply to peer-group web collaboration sessions, web training classes, and other types of applications.
BrightTALK uses an innovative approach to help customers not just deliver and record live webinars, but to help them organize content into libraries and communities of viewers, simplify cross-promotion of events, and deliver sessions through embeddable players that can live on multiple website pages, rather than needing a dedicated stand-alone player or console. That approach is reflected in the data and their presentation focus.
The 2012 data came from some 15,000 webinars and 870,000 unique user views (of live and recorded content). Roughly 25-30% of this content was produced as video presentations, which tend to run shorter (maybe 20 minutes on average). The rest were more traditional “slide and narration” webinars, with a mean average of 42 minutes duration.
There were dozens of graphs in the presentation, and I can’t possibly cover all their findings here. I jotted notes on some of the tidbits I found particularly interesting:
- On average, they found that live viewership at the official start time of a webinar was only 38% of the eventual max audience count. It rose in the middle and dropped to 45% by the official end time. The “full audience” sweet spot of at least 90% of the total number of viewers took place between minutes 9 and 40 of a 60 minute webinar.
- The ratio (mentioned above) of video presentations to traditional slide webinars on their system represented a significant increase from 2011 and a huge jump from 2010, when video presentations were negligible. But the video presentations were overwhelmingly used for on-demand playback rather than live webinars.
- Email and direct invitations/promotions still account for the lion’s share of registrants and attendees (58-64%). Social media and search have remained fairly steady for the past 3 years at delivering around 15% of the audience.
- The percentage of no-shows has grown steadily for the past five years. Their 2008 figures showed a 15% no-show rate. 2012 showed a 32% no-show rate (consistent with my findings, by the way).
It would be wonderful if other webinar vendors released this kind of summarized data on their hosted webinars. This is great info to mull over (especially in combination with the larger vendor-independent studies run by Wainhouse Research each year). I commend and thank BrightTALK for taking the time and effort to share their data with the public.