I followed up with Onstream today to find out more about their webinar business. I spoke with Brian King in their San Francisco office. Brian told me that they have ramped up services and technology this spring and summer to support lead generation webinars. Onstream has a history in delivering webcasts, which aren't designed to be as interactive. They have done the usual portfolio of earnings calls, educational topics, product launches, CEO presentations, and so forth.
The company provides a full service video webcasting production crew if desired. For instance, they handled the red carpet premiere of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movie this summer for Disney. Brian says they have an entire mobile videoconferencing unit boxed up and ready to ship to any location desired by a client.
Their technology supports the standard features we now expect to find from the major vendors: Streaming audio delivered over the Internet, slide shows, live video, polling, text Q&A, and exit surveys. The new features they added were designed to make life easier for marketing-oriented webinars with invitations that support HTML templates and list distribution, customized registration pages, and lead scoring. The latter is a concept that only a few vendors have added to their technology mix so far. The idea is that you can assign weights and scores to various registration questions. People can prequalify themselves as to their sales potential by their answers, giving the sales force a built-in priority order for followup.
One of the nice tricks that Onstream has taken to providing in its lead generation webinars is to send out an email between registration and the event date that solicits questions and concerns from the registrants. This encourages participation and gives the registrants a stake in the content of the event. It also lets the event producer see the most prevalent concerns among his/her audience so s/he can adjust content and emphasis appropriately.
Brian says the Onstream differentiator is bang for the buck (he gave me some sample prices that I found to be extremely reasonable), expertise in field production services, the availability of the complete lead generation package, and the ease of use of their platform.
One of the things that isn't there yet is the ability to support embedded Flash content (they currently require you to open a Web page to push the content). That's in late development right now. Also, PowerPoint slides must be static images... They don't support direct conversion of animations and slide transitions. While the company supports both telephone-based and Internet-based audio, there are concerns about audience reception delays that make combined audio use tricky for a highly interactive event where you are soliciting lots of audience feedback throughout the presentation. But offsetting this concern is a very slick ability to package the entire video/web/audio stream for playback over an Internet-only event connection. You can merge in video clips and keep them synchronized with your presentation audio before and after. I liked that.
You'll probably be hearing more about and from Onstream. Keep them on your list.