says AWS India’s Anoop Kumar Bhat

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The era of Web 2.0 made people use the internet quite differently. Suddenly, the internet became much more than a platform for information and storage; it became a modern public space for demonstration of one’s freedom of expression.

As more and more people have started using the internet to create content, there is an urgent need for a platform that is smooth, convenient, scalable, cost effective and interactive to leverage the experience. To this end, Amazon IVS (Interactive Video Service) comes with salient features to help platforms get more out of User Generated Content (UGC).

At TechSparks 2021, Anoop Kumar Bhat, Head of Business Development, AWS India, held a masterclass where he spoke about today’s creator economy and the role it plays in building UGC with Amazon IVS.

The ‘creator economy’ explained

The creator economy is made up of independent content creators, social media influencers, bloggers, videographers, and everyone else who is using technology to monetise their content. Today, the overall market size of such an economy is $104.2 billion globally.

The monetisation here goes well beyond just ads. Some of these are subscriptions; tippings, donations and NFTs (Non-fungible tokens); in-app currencies and purchase; virtual live experience; commerce tools and platforms; and interest-based paid community.

Through all this, one common factor is UGC. “Today, UGC is king,” said Anoop, adding, “And that’s what is required to make all this monetisation possible. There has been an emergence of platforms to attract creators. And we’ve seen a boom in the app ecosystem to build platforms that cater to UGC.”

Live streaming is the growth empire for UGC

This emergence of platforms has led to the lego-lisation of the creator economy tools, said Anoop. With the creation of tons of platforms, tons of tools are being created for audience curation and audience monetisation for vertical platforms. At the heart of all this is live video streaming.

There has been a 300 percent increase in signed streamers over the last year, with the percentage of men increasing by about 70 percent and women by 105 percent. China currently dominates the virtual or live streaming market space. But India is expected to be the biggest market for live streaming by 2025. While the current number of monthly active users in China is about 560 million users, India is expected to surpass that number significantly as the country is growing at a 400 percent growth rate. The recent years have seen quite a few platforms with more than 5 million monthly active users.

Importance of interactivity

“Interactivity matters, it’s not just about creating content. It’s about making the content more engaging. Research says that making your content more interactive leads to a 60 percent increase in customer purchases,” stated Anoop.

An interactive live broadcast is where you have the live stream, along with additional interactive elements. These elements could be overlays, leaderboards, social interactions, emoji reactions and many more that could help in engagement as part of the platform. “There is a sweet spot of latency to drive interactivity and that is somewhere between one to six seconds. So if a video has a latency of 10 seconds, you can’t really make it engaging,” explained Anoop, adding, “Interactive live broadcast is device driven, think of all the IoT cameras out there, security cameras, and machine learning stuff. And then we also have collaborative communications.”

At AWS, there are solutions for interactive live broadcast, as well as a traditional one like a cricket match. “For traditional live broadcasts at AWS, AWS Elemental and Amazon CloudFront are a good fit. For interactive live broadcast, Amazon IVS works wonders,” said Anoop.

The key requirements for UGC are:

Managed video platform: You need to make sure that your developers are spending time innovating and building new use cases.

Channel spot start up time: Live streaming needs to be instantaneous. So channel spot start up time is super important.

Platforms and devices: There are tons of platforms out there – Android, iOS. With user generated content, you need to be able to support all of them.

Scalability: No one can guess when a video will go viral, but there needs to be a solution that can automatically scale when the user video goes viral.

Interactivity: Platforms need to be interactive. People have to be able to react to it with emoji reactions or chats. So interactivity plays a key role when it comes to UGC content.

Cost: Platforms need to be cost effective. You can’t be spending more than what you would end up making from a monetisation piece. So it has to be scalable, and the cost has to match up with what the requirements are from the platform.

Introduction to Amazon Interactive Video Service

AWS comes with years of experience running Twitch, a platform which was founded in 2011 and acquired by Amazon in 2014. Twitch has over 20 million viewers per day, 3 million plus streamers per month, and over two trillion minutes watched on the platform.

“While it’s great for live streaming, a lot of our customers approached us and said, ‘We love twitch. But we want to use the underlying infrastructure that powers Twitch so that we can build our own platform. And that’s essentially how we built Amazon Interactive Video Service (IVS),” he said.

Some of the salient features of IVS are:

  1. It supports multiple platforms
  2. There is no spin up time
  3. Great global infrastructure
  4. Interactivity
  5. Less than five seconds of startup latency
  6. Ability to record all of the video streams

The customer use cases can be varied, ranging from e-commerce, education segment, fitness and wellness, virtual events, townhalls and UGC apps.

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