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The Three "W"s of Conferencing

I was on LinkedIn the other day, perusing the "Answers" section when I stumbled upon a question posed from a longstanding marketer. It was, "Is there a difference between webinars, web conferences and webcasts, and if yes, what are the main differentiators." Great question, a lot of people interchange the three and they shouldn't, they are very separate entities.

Below are just brief summaries of each which highlight the differentiation factors. It is important to integrate all three into a marketing or sales campaign, but each can be used for different purposes so keep in mind the functionality that lives within each specific platform. It is important to note that with all three platforms, the content can be accessed either live or in an archived, on-demand format.

The major differentiator that sets a webcast apart from webinars or web conferencing is video. A lot of our clients use a webcast for high profile, public events such as Investor Relations calls or large online events. Webcasts will almost always be sold at a higher price point than web conferencing and webinars, due to the cost accrued when working with streaming, internet bandwidth and video quality. Webcasts typically have fewer dichotomies and usually are more of a one-way monologue. Webcasts works great for large events since the presentation model doesn't accommodate much interaction between the audience and the presenter.

True web conferences are designed to allow a presenter to show an audience their desktop and collaborate through a variety of methods. Web conferences are suited more for day-to-day business meetings and events. Most web conferences use a combination of web and phone, phone audio has proven to be more reliable and a higher quality than VoIP. A web conference allows real-time interaction among participants in the event. Typically, web conferences are more of a cross channel conversation with multiple parties, and are more interactive. Web conferences give customers the ability to share presentation rights and control of applications. Web conferences are a perfect solution for presentations, sales demos and training.

Last but not least, webinars. Webinar and web conferences have more similarities, and have a tendency to be interchangeable. A webinar is still a form of a web conference, but the main difference between the two is that a webinar is a more formal event that is usually promoted as an online or web Seminar. Webinars offer more collaborative technologies but it is typically a one-way dialogue, from the speaker to the audience with interaction limited to a question and answer session at the close of the webinar. As mentioned, we suggested that your webinars are collaborative and include polling and/or question & answer sessions to allow for a more dynamic audience experience.

To find out more about ConferencePlus' web conferencing and webcasts solutions click here.

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