By Spencer Kitley
Last month Yahoo India’s travel editor Bijoy Venugopal and staff photographer Azhar Mohamed Ali set out on a new adventure to explore India’s most picturesque coastal drive along the India’s East Coast Road. As the duo traveled more than 1,000 km between Chennai and Madurai they used the robust feature set of CoveritLive to deliver live updates of their experiences, via interactive chat, social media, images, video and much more during their 11-day journey. Learn more about their great CiL experience by checking out Venugopal’s Q&A below.
CiL: What was your live event and what did you aim to achieve with your coverage?
Bijoy Venugopal: Our event was called The Great East Coast Road Drive. It was intended to be a live travelogue, reported in real-time from the road for more than 11 days from August 2 to August 13. Our primary goal was to explore the East Coast Road, one of India’s most scenic coastal drives and one studded with destinations of historic, cultural, ecological and religious interest. Dovetailed with this goal was our objective of sharing the experience live with the audience of Yahoo India Travel, and to encourage our readers to interact with us and participate in the live event by experiencing it vicariously, both on the Yahoo destination page as well as via Twitter using the hashtag #Greatcrdrive. We began our coverage in Chennai on August 2 and completed it on August 13 in Madurai, covering over 1,100 kilometers. The CiL event module was embedded on our website and we enjoyed fantastic results.
CiL: How long did the event run and what kind of success did you achieve?
BV: The Great East Coast Road Drive ran continuously for 11 days, from August 2 to August 13, 2013. We initiated the coverage on August 2 and ended it on the morning of August 14 after terminating our journey on the night of August 13. We used the iPhone app and EventStudio to write posts, upload images and videos. We kept the Viewer Window open for comments overnight before ending the event on the morning of August 14.
The event, in our estimation, was a tremendous success. Before we spout numbers, I must say that the first note of satisfaction stems from being able to translocate the richness of travel, live, to an audience within seconds of actually experiencing it in person.
We had an unprecedented 376,712 live page views with 192,814 clicks and a live click-through-rate of 51%. Average reader duration was 16 minutes per-visit, with 59% of readers staying for longer than a minute, which we consider a very healthy rate of engagement for an event of this duration. Many of our CoveritLive posts were also live-tweeted with the hashtag #Greatecrdrive via the EventStudio’s Post&Tweet function, which enhanced visits and shares. Tweets with the hashtag were also streamed into the event.
The archived event continues to be highly engaging as well, with more than 98,000 replay page views and almost 24,000 clicks.
CiL: What CoveritLive features do you find most effective for live reporting?
BV: I would instinctively thumb up the CoveritLive iPhone app above all else. We used the iPhone app primarily in low cellular data network areas of rural India as we found it to be most useful and effective in those areas. We were delighted to be able to upload photos and videos even in low-strength networks. Wherever we had access to 3G networks, we hooked up our iPhones as modems and connected via the EventStudio, which we then used to run polls, stream in Instagram photos, etc.
CiL: Which features did you incorporate into the event (chat, Twitter, Instagram, images, polls, video, RSS feeds, etc)?
BV: All of the above. We ran the event as a prolonged live chat, in which we invited comments from readers and moderated them using the SmartStream. We streamed in Instagram images, roped in a custom RSS feed from our Flickr group pool, pulled in content from Twitter (particularly tweets with our hashtag) and kept up a continuous commentary in text, live images, video uploads and tweets. Additionally, we streamed in Wikipedia search results regularly to provide context to our travels.
CiL: How does CoveritLive help you engage with your readers? How do you moderate user comments or questions?
BV: CoveritLive is our chosen tool for covering live events. At Yahoo India Travel, we have used it with great results on three previous occasions this year for live chats of two hours or less. In the first two, we had a single panelist and two producers. In the third, we had three panelists and two producers. All three events saw healthy engagement statistics. The event archives also continue to generate interest after the event is complete. Encouraged by the results, we decided to test its efficacy for a long-term, continuous event such as The Great East Coast Road Drive, and we are thrilled with the results. We find the SmartStream very effective for moderating questions and comments.
Elsewhere in Yahoo India, our News and Finance teams use CoveritLive regularly to summarize daily news stories, cover markets, for live chats, etc. Our Lifestyle team uses CoveritLive to conduct live chats with experts on topics in health, fitness and cuisine.
CiL: With reporters out in the field, how do you effectively incorporate their input into the CoveritLive event?
BV: I was both the coordinator of the event and the reporter out in the field in this case. I was able to orchestrate the event to great satisfaction with some advance planning, by preparing an event media library and setting up feeds for incorporating content from outside sources. We have yet to try covering an event with dispersed teams of reporters, but we have plans to do so in the near future.
CiL: What type of events do you anticipate using CoveritLive to cover in the future?
BV: Certainly, we are buzzing with plans. We are very encouraged by the results of the live travelogue that we reported using CoveritLive. As travel editor at Yahoo India, I have plans for many more live travelogues such as The Great East Coast Road Drive. The ease of use and flexibility of the CiL iPhone app has motivated us to pursue more ambitious projects.