GE uses live video in banner ads to reach investors

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GE pioneered the use of a new online ad format on March 13, when it used live streaming video within banner ads to deliver a webcast of GE Chairman-CEO Jeff Immelt presenting the company’s annual report.

This was no ordinary investor presentation. It was all done live on the Internet, with the opportunity for shareholders to interact with Immelt via questions submitted online.

GE developed the online campaign with the help of interactive agency Stinson Partners, Irvington, N.Y., using EyeWonder’s LiveWonder streaming video platform.

“We certainly like the live opportunity to talk directly to the public through banner advertising,” said Jen Walsh, digital media director at GE.

GE worked with 10 media properties—including Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, Forbes, MSN, MSNBC and—to promote the event before, during and following the webcast.

During the 48 hours prior to the event, GE ran banner ads on these Web sites, inviting users to tune in to the live webcast at the designated time. It also gave them the opportunity to submit questions for Immelt.

On March 13, Immelt made his presentation during a 30-minute live webcast, which was played within banner ads on the partner media sites. He then answered some of the 6,000 questions that had been submitted.

A team of experts at GE answered many of the other questions, which were posted online the following day.

Walsh declined to say how many viewers tuned it, but she said the live webcast surpassed engagement metrics for standard video ads “by a long shot.”

“We’ve been trying to do new things online for a while,” Walsh said. “Video as an ad format has really been paying off for us in big ways.”

She said GE will consider other opportunities to use the live streaming platform, such as product launches or live events.

“There really must be something worthwhile to broadcast,” said Michael Clark, principal at Stinson Partners. “It has to be worthwhile for the client and fit well with what we are trying to do from a communications strategy. We need to ask, can we reach the right target, is this the right message we want to send and is this the right platform?”

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