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Shifting Content Marketing Metrics – On-Demand Webinars Are Where It’s At

When it comes to webinars in general, few strategies generate a greater number of leads or sales. In fact, most statistics suggest that nearly two-thirds of marketing gurus use webinars in a regular basis. In the past, however, live webinars have been preferred because they have enjoyed greater times of viewing. Compared to on-demand webinars, those watching live streams tend to stay engaged twice as long. Interestingly, this simple fact still holds true. But this statistic no longer tells the complete picture. Based on recent shifts on consumer behaviors, on-demand content options now look to be the preferred approach.

When it comes to on-demand webinars, there are many advantages that viewers appreciate. More than ever, time is a precious resource, and there are ever-increasing demands on our time. In contrast to live webinars that require attendance at a specific time, on-demand options offer flexibility. As a result, businesses and marketers alike can attract the attention of larger audiences using on-demand webinars. But this is only one of the benefits that these platforms offer. This is a major reason why many companies are changing their approach when it comes to various types of streaming content.

“Pre-recorded webinars are focused on the attendees and how they want to consume and engage with video content. Pre-recorded webinars prioritize the attendee & consumer experience, whereas live webinars prioritize the host’s content delivery.” – Todd Parmley, COO, eWebinar

Changing Consumer Trends in Webinars

Live webinars have been shown to be highly effective in a variety of settings. Marketers have recognized for decades that these platforms are quite lucrative. Roughly 5% of attendees to these discussions make purchases. But they are also effective in other areas as well. Educational training webinars are routinely used when onboarding employees or updating employee skills. And certainly, during the pandemic, live webinars were utilized among remote workers during presentations.

In recent years, however, live sessions have slowly given way to on-demand webinars. Just as many consumers came to appreciate on-demand television streaming, they too have embraced on-demand webinars. Time constraints and a greater desire for flexibility are driving these trends. But these aren’t the only ones. Global audiences cannot always attend live webinars, and on-demand platforms provide alternative solutions. Plus, on-demand streaming enables many to attend who might otherwise have scheduling conflicts.

“On-demand webinars are my favorite type of video because of their return on investment (ROI). It is the video version of email — not particularly sexy or trendy, but makes you money on autopilot once set up.” – Nathan Isaacs, Senior Content Producer at UserTesting

The Good and Bad of On-Demand Webinars

When comparing live webinars to on-demand ones, there are several other advantages. For example, the lifespan of on-demand webinars is tremendously increased. Once content is created and uploaded for audiences, it can be used indefinitely as long as it’s relevant. For companies using videos for training and onboarding new hires, on-demand webinars are great. In addition, these provide a level of consistency and quality that may be difficult to achieve with live sessions. And naturally, the time and effort invested in these presentations over the long-term is much more efficient.

There is a few downsides to on-demand webinars when compared to live interactions. Live webinars offer better engagement with the audience, which can be appealing at times. For instance, live discussions permit question-and-answer sessions. They also tend to maintain viewership for longer periods of time. While audiences prefer on-demand discussions of 10-15 minutes, audiences will remain attentive to live platforms for 30 minutes. However, it has also been shown that attendance rate doubles for many companies when switching. Some businesses have reported 40% attendance with on-demand platforms compared to 20% with live-streaming.

“Since live webinars are happening in real time, the success of the live event depends on the host. The host is responsible for staying on track, interacting with the live audience, and ensuring that the technology is fully functional.” – Todd Parmley

Best Practices for On-Demand Webinars

Given that on-demand webinars will hopefully have lasting value, it’s important to invest effort into making them. A little bit goes a long way in this regard. If done well, these can offer high-quality professional presentation that best serves the audience being pursued. Taking the extra time upfront can therefore provide better results for a long time to come. Understanding this, there are some key best practices to consider. By taking these into consideration, viewer engagement and attentiveness will be much higher.

A woman watching a webinar on her laptop
Don’t sleep on on-demand webinars–they’re getting more popular than live webinars.

One of the things to consider involves imagining being an audience member. Because these are not live webinars, it’s important to plan content creation with anticipation. (Read more about the rise of content creation apps in this Bold story.) Marketing gurus tend to create a customer journey map when constructing on-demand webinars. They place themselves in their shoes when creating the structure of the presentation. They also often pose questions that they then answer. In addition, customer personas are also considered to help identify what key points deserve attention. Customer journey maps can actually be used for any type of on-demand recording as a way to enhance content. In this way, they can better engage the audience and mirror live webinars.

The Best of Both Worlds

It can be appreciated that on-demand webinars will not and should not replace live streaming sessions completely. In some instances, live webinars are ideal, especially when dialogue is important. Understanding this, some companies are turning to simulated webinars and shared sessions as a result. In this regard, the initial live webinar is transferred to a platform for later streaming or shared publicly. In fact, Zoom now offers this routinely via Twitch where live sessions may be stored and shared. However, it’s important to also appreciate that an increasing number of employers, consumers, and staff prefer on-demand webinars overall. Thus, companies must not only change their approach but how they measure success as well. Attendance and conversion rates for on-demand platforms will become a more standard metric in the years to come.

 

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The Gamification of Mental Health

There are currently over 2.7 billion gamers in the world today, and they encompass nearly every demographic. Statistics now show that active gamers routinely span age ranges from 18 to 54 years of age. At the same time, it’s no secret that mental illness affects a similarly high number of people across the globe. The percentage of individuals with mental health complaints has only increased with the recent pandemic as well. Given the challenges associated with treating mental health disorders, some are beginning to explore games for mental health care. And thus far, the evidence looks impressive.

(Check out this deep dive into apps devoted to mental health, courtesy of Bold Business.)

In preventing and managing mental illness, healthcare services have encountered some serious challenges. For one, such care is often expensive, forming a notable barrier to care for those with limited resources. Therapists and medications are pricey, and many health insurances offer limited mental healthcare services. Likewise, mental illness and its care continue to be associated with negative social stigma. This too limits access to needed interventions that might improve the situation. But the gamification of mental health interventions could effectively reduce both of these barriers. This is why significant interest in games for mental health has been growing.

“Alternative and preventive therapies are crucial if we’re to mitigate the [current mental health] crisis and avoid a new one. For that to happen we need to consider all possible avenues. And gaming, as one of the most popular forms of leisure, should be a part of that.” – Ryan Douglas, Cofounder of DeepWell

How Gamification of Mental Health Services Works

During the recent pandemic, many turned to video games as a means to escape their fears and anxieties as well as their boredom. From this perspective, video games represent a form of distraction that can alleviate stress. But when it comes to using games for mental health improvement, there are a number of other ways these interventions could help. For one, video games offer a safe and controlled environment to explore complex behaviors and decisions. The simulations and feedback provided then allow individuals to work out issues in a more protected environment with less risk. At a basic level, this is how games for mental health could be of benefit.

Interestingly, however, games for mental health offer additional opportunities as well. Many games allow role playing in specific situations that might alleviate anxiety and worry. Many also enable players to gain a sense of agency and self-actualization. Even though this takes place in a virtual environment, it nonetheless provides real stimulation and real reactions. These facets actually mirror many techniques used in specific mental health therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. Thus, gamification of mental health treatments could serve to further enhance therapeutic efforts already in place. Plus, these would be activities individuals could perform at home and any time without the need to schedule a therapist appointment.

“Video games could offer greater access to adjunctive therapeutic intervention as they can be played at home and at any time, as opposed to traditional care, which typically occurs less frequently and can be prohibitively expensive.” – Michael L. Birnbaum, MD, Program Director of Early Treatment Interventions, Northwell Behavioral Health

Research Concerning Games for Mental Health

In recent years, interest in the gamification of mental health services has increased. As a result, a number of investigators have started to explore the potential benefits of games for mental health. To date, these studies show that some video games improve both depression and anxiety among patients. Specifically, these games alleviated feelings such as loss of pleasure, making management of their condition easier. Gamification of mental health interventions also had positive effects on social anxiety and feelings of isolation. Though not examined as primary treatments, video games offered clear adjunctive benefits in patients with these conditions.

a cartoon of someone growing plants out of their skull
The gamification of mental health means raising awareness about this important issue.

Research has also identified health benefits of specific video games in the gaming industry. For example, those playing Minecraft and Animal Crossings: New Horizons had improved feelings of social connectedness and community. As games for mental health, they reduced complaints of loneliness and improved self-esteem. Mario Kart players were found to have better emotional regulation skills. And those playing Plants Vs. Zombies were found to have lower anxiety levels afterwards when compared to others on medication. All of these findings support the use of gamification for mental health in terms of overall outcomes.

“The research kept coming back that games, not like apps or therapeutic experiments, just games, can be therapeutic. When we realized that so many games that are already out, and have been studied, are therapeutic on their own just by the very nature of their design, that’s when it got real.” – Mike Wilson, Cofounder of DeepWell

Taking a Games First Approach

Many games for mental health already exist. However, most of these games were designed as treatment tools rather than entertainment ones. Mental health care has shown that intrinsic motivation is important for improvements. Therefore, without a desire to play a video game based on its entertainment value, opportunities for success are more limited. This simple fact is what led the cofounders of DeepWell to take a different approach. As a new startup, they hope to collect research on existing video games and certify specific ones for mental health treatments. They also plan to develop new games that entertain as well as treat. They see the gamification of mental health as potentially quite powerful as long as entertainment remains a central focus.

The cofounders of DeepWell have extensive experience not only in video game development but also in medical devices. They also believe that video games have gotten a bad rap over the years, especially when it comes to mental health care. Many researchers and experts agree, which is why there is an increasing desire to pursue games for mental health care now. As research evidence grows, it’s highly likely that gamification of mental health services will expand. And as an adjunct to other treatments that already exist, its potential could be profound. Video games are much more affordable and accessible that medications and therapists. And video games lack the social stigma these other treatments have within society. Based on these aspects, games for mental health might just be an important piece of the mental health care puzzle moving forward.

 

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Get Young Fast – New Research Reveals How to Reverse the Effects of Aging

In the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a unique set of circumstances creates an interesting anomaly. Rather than growing older from birth to death, Benjamin Button is born old and becomes younger. As a plot for the film, the concept is indeed intriguing. But for those seeking to reverse the effects of aging in real life, it represents the Holy Grail of their work. If they could find anti-aging factors that might reverse aging, youthfulness might be preserved indefinitely. Based on recent laboratory experiments, it seems researchers have moved a few steps closer toward their goal.

In more than one university, researchers are exploring how cells might be manipulated to be more youthful. By applying specific anti-aging factors to these cells, they hope to reverse the effects of aging. If successful, a variety of degenerative diseases could be more effectively managed. Likewise, these same therapies could make us more resilient to stress and more resistant to illness. Though the investigations are in their early stages, results in mice look surprisingly promising. And what’s even more impressive is the short duration of treatment needed to see positive effects.

“We’ve wondered for some time if it might be possible to simply rewind the aging clock without inducing pluripotency. Now we’ve found that, by tightly controlling the duration of the exposure to these protein factors, we can promote rejuvenation in multiple human cell types.” – Vittorio Sebastiano, Associate Professor of Reproductive and Stem Cell Biology, Stanford Medicine

The Process of Cell Rejuvenation

In attempting to reverse the effects of aging on cells, the process is relatively new. As nanotechnology and stem cell research has advanced, new opportunities to explore anti-aging factors have emerged. This includes the use of mRNA methodologies that allow researchers to trigger cells to make specific proteins. (Dig into Bold’s research on mRNA vaccines here!) In terms of anti-aging pursuits, specific proteins include those referred to as Yamanaka factors. Yamanaka factors consist of four proteins that once applied to cells triggers them to return to their embryonic state. Naturally, a more embryonic state is one that is more youthful, which is why these factors are important.

In essence, Yamanaka factors are believed to be very important in regulating the development of cells. When present, these proteins trigger adult mature cells to become stem cells. Because stem cells are more immature in nature, they can then develop in a number of different directions. But at the same time, stem cells are more youthful in nature and result in more youthful functioning and appearance. Thus, by bathing adult cells in Yamanaka anti-aging factors, researchers are able to create younger functioning cells. In the process, they reverse the effects of aging at a cellular level, resulting in cellular rejuvenation.

“At the end of the day, we want to bring resilience and function back to older cells so that they are more resistant to stress, injury and disease.” – Dr. Pradeep Reddy, Scientific Researcher in Biologic Studies, Salk Institute

Cellular Level Research of Anti-Aging Factors

Over the last year, cellular level research has explored how anti-aging factors affect various cell types. At Standford University, experiments have been conducted on mice with premature aging. Notably, after exposed to Yamanaka factors, the mice showed improvements in cell function. Specifically, heart and brain cells performed in a more youthful manner. Likewise, other cells, such as cartilage cells from mice with osteoarthritis, showed less inflammation. All of this suggests that it’s possible to reverse the effects of aging at a cellular level. By resetting the cellular clock, cells functioned better as if years younger.

A carton of a woman cleaning her brain
Want to reverse the effects of aging? Try it at the cellular level!

These studies not only looked at cell function in assessing the effects of anti-aging factors. These same researchers also examined DNA methylation alterations among cells treated and not treated with these proteins. For skin cells, exposure to Yamanaka factors resulted in methylation patterns more typical of cells 1.5 to 3.5 years younger. For blood cells, the effects were more pronounced, appearing 7.5 years younger. Thus, in addition to rejuvenation in metabolism, treated cells were less “aged” at a molecular level. This provides additional proof that it’s feasible to reverse the effects of aging on these cells.

“We are elated that we can use this approach across the life span to slow down aging in normal animals. The technique is both safe and effective in mice.” – Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte. Professor at Gene Expressions Laboratory, Salk Institute

Recent Animal Anti-Aging Research

In the last few months, additional studies involving animal research and anti-aging factors have been published. One, in particular, has shown impressive results when exposing different age mice to therapies. Researchers at the Salk Institute took three groups of mice of different ages. One group were comprised of mice equivalent to young adults when compared to humans. The other two groups were the equivalent of middle age and elderly. The mice were then treated with Yamanaka factors for several months. While the elderly mice had little change, the other two groups demonstrated marked improvements in appearance and ability. And the most impressive finding was they were able to reverse the effects of aging within seven to ten months of treatment.

After the treatments, mice were then examined further for any other findings or complications. Importantly, researchers found no negative effects on blood cells, neurological function, or cancerous changes. Likewise, skin cells, retinal cells, muscle cells, and brain cells all appeared younger in nature on closer examination. Skin appeared more youthful, and metabolism became more stable. Based on these results, researchers were optimistic about the future of anti-aging factors and their use in humans. While much more work is needed, these research techniques may be useful to reverse the effects of aging in humans as well.

Pursuing Youthfulness with Caution

Certainly, these early experiments on cells and mice appear quite promising. They suggest that anti-aging factors might be a way to reverse the effects of aging and offer greater health. This is notable important when it comes to many degenerative conditions. But it also has significance in terms of human longevity, abilities, and even evolution. Many are predicting the business of anti-aging will be huge in the coming years as a result. (Read more about the business of anti-aging in this Bold story.) However, the researchers involved in the studies above are the first to recommend caution. No human studies have been performed, and these are likely years away. Therefore, a healthy dose of caution is warranted. But these initial results are exciting and will undoubtedly lead to additional investigations in the near future.

 

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