Webinars and webcasts: Which is best for your biz?

In the dispersed digital world, effectively communicating across boundaries and boarders is increasingly important. This is particularly true for the growing number of remote-based organizations. As a variety of purely digital organizations expand their workforce into international territories, possessing powerful communication tools is a must.

Fortunately, a myriad of affordable, high-powered webinar tools have emerged. This has led to the proliferation of webinars and webcasts online. While webinars and webcasts share many similarities, there are some very critical differences between them.

Both communication formats are digital broadcasts that can be accessed on any device. Each can be live or pre-recorded. Both utilize pre-event registration and post-broadcast data for analyzing performance metrics.

But a webcast is most often a one-to-many presentation that appears much like a television broadcast, shot using multiple cameras and streamed over the internet. Furthermore, webcasts typically have presenters onsite at a specific location.

Webinars are formatted for smaller groups – tens to hundreds of people – effectively digitizing an interactive seminar. Webinars often feature Q&A sections, polling features, whiteboards, screen sharing options, and chat functionality.

Outside of these disparities, both formats have their respective advantages and disadvantages.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into the pros and cons of webcasts and webinars to determine which is right for your event, then read on.

Size accommodations

Depending on the size of the event you are seeking to produce, there are going to be come clear-cut benefits and drawbacks for certain formats.

Webcasts tend to accommodate much larger audiences; sometimes reaching into the thousands, tens of thousands, or even millions. Additionally, webcasts tend to include a live audience on location.

Some examples of webcast events include The Game Awards and the Social Media Marketing World conference.

These events can have an air of prestige and often hold audience’s attention for longer periods.

Webinars tend to be geared towards smaller audiences, with the upper echelons in the hundreds, very rarely stretching into the thousands. Depending on the event type, this could be exactly what your business needs, as this tends to be conducted remotely by just a couple of people. However, this is not ideal for reaching larger audiences.

Engagement

Because of the size of webcast broadcasts, there is little to no audience interaction. While the glitz of the big event might naturally captivate an audience for a longer period than a webinar, the downside is that the lack of user-to-user or presenter-to-attendee interaction tends to lead to a less engaged, more passive experience. Webcasts are essentially one-way transmissions. They can be a great tool for building brand awareness, but in terms of generating sales, the format falls short.

Webinars are fundamentally different in this regard as they are designed to be live and interactive. Thanks to the tools provided by webinar providers, hosts and crowds can engage in an intimate, back-and-forth dialogue. Additionally, attendees can interact with one another via chat functionality. While webinar hosts may have a harder time engaging the audience from the office or their home, features like audience polls, screen sharing, live chat, and other useful engagement features make up for the disparity.

Pricing models

This might just be the biggest disparity between these two formats. The bigger the audience, the bigger the budget.

While potential producers can find free options for both webinars and webcasts, neither is advised. This is largely because both possess a serious lack of features and connectivity tends to be rather unreliable; this can lead to a negative brand perception and frustrated users, making all your efforts meaningless.

Generally, webcasts tend to start at around $1,000 and can go up to $7,000 or more. This price largely depends on the event’s size and length. The more assistance that is required for production, editing, technical support, etc. will increase the price exponentially.

Webinars usually charge a monthly fee for unlimited usage, with package prices ranging depending on the number of anticipated attendees. Depending on the platform, packages usually range between $25 and $150 with more premium services costing up to $500 per month.

The size and scope of the event should help you determine which option is right for your presentation.

Messaging

When opting to utilize webcasts, hosts have complete control over their message and how it is delivered. This is because webcasts only facilitate a one-way transmission, disabling the audience from interacting. This can be good for certain types of events where interruptions or unexpected questions are not a welcomed occurrence.

With webinars, however, there is a much higher level of interactivity, meaning that audience questions and interjections are a common occurrence. This can sometimes be distracting for certain hosts, leading them lose the thread. Yet, this can be easily mitigated using a moderator who simply collects audience questions and saves them until the event reaches its Q&A portion, typically held at the end of the session.

Depending on the format of your event and the level of engagement you desire, it should be clear which format is right for your broadcast.

The verdict

Webinars and webcasts both serve a specific purpose and have their own advantages and drawbacks. Choosing which one to leverage solely depends on your business’s requirements and desires.

When the goal is to reach as many people as possible and audience contributions are not necessary, webcasting wins. Especially if your brand has a natural propensity to storytelling or high production capabilities.

If you seek to hold a more intimate event where interaction is a prime component of the presentation, then webinars are the way to go. These are also easier to create, and can be executed by an amateur with grace and effectiveness.

Once you have decided which structure is right for your brand, the next move is to start researching the right software for your needs. Whatever platform you elect, make sure that it enables customer branding, possesses the features you require, and provides reliable connectivity. Then let your creativity flow, and reach the audience you know is ready to connect with you too.