Live streaming is a huge part of social media from Snapchat to Facebook and Instagram. Regardless of who came first, these platforms have integrated live streaming as an integral part of their daily functions. Whether to battle fake news or to reinstate authentic voices against their heavily edited landscapes, live streaming has cascaded into a global phenomenon. So where did this catalyst come from and why is it so prevalent?

The first live stream was innocent. Consisting of the very gumption to prove that it was possible, the band Severe Tire Damage performed live on the internet in 1993. But, just as any technology revolution, their ripple created waves in today’s media landscape.

In 2017, not one, but two advertisers tackled for the first time, on the most expensive field, live Super Bowl ads. Snickers live streamed an ad while Hyundai shot, edited and aired an ad while the Super Bowl happened. Their remarkable efforts reflect a shift in the tectonic plates of society today. Specifically, that people are done being played by advertising.

Lets think back to the 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds that supposedly sent New Yorkers running to the hills. Perhaps the first attempt at either nonfiction or horseplay, they unintentionally defined the phrase, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Their efforts, ill intentioned or not, are a strong argument to support the FTC’s Truth in Advertising regulations which state, “When consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.”

But in today’s media landscape, the average consumer is bombarded by an estimated 440 – 5,000 ads per day. Even on the low end of this number, 440 ads is a time consuming process for the average consumer to filter based on being honest, straightforward, and factual.

“In our focus groups [twenty-five in 2016] we’re seeing the highest levels of skepticism from consumers across sectors. Distrust of media is at its highest and with that institutions are also under scrutiny. Authentic information and transparency are critical to building trust and live streaming is one way to demonstrate this.” – Renee Fraser, PhD, CEO, Fraser Communications

With buzzwords like “fake news” all over the internet, it’s easy to recognize that distrust in media is high. Ads aside, consumers are bombarded with information whenever they pickup their smartphones. It’s no wonder why a live stream from a handheld camera is the newest development. Low in production value but high in human-to-human interaction. The fact that advertisers are now using the live concept in commercials demonstrates that this phenomenon is only beginning.