Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Expos2 Reviews

I volunteer for a non-profit that is planning to host a virtual trade show next year as well as a virtual job fair.  The organization selected a company called Expos2 to host the service.  Well, when we decided to pull the trigger and move forward, Expos2 informed us that they are closing down and are not accepting new clients.

Can you imagine deciding on a hotel to host a physical conference and have the hotel call you before your event and tell you that they are closing its doors?

This prompted me to do a little more research on the space (I normally cover webinar technologies).  After investigating it looks like there are two dominant platforms that have been around for a long time with a large client base; ON24 and Communique Conferencing.  Aside from these two there are several very small (less than 10 employees) start-ups similar to Expos2. 

I wonder if the other small players will make it. This reminds me of the early days when Webinars just started out.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Webconferencing-Test.com and TopTenReviews.com are Fake

There are a lot of individuals that figured out how to set up a product review website in order to earn commissions from the vendors which they perform a fake review http://www.highconvertingplr.com/how-to-make-money-with-product-review-sites/.  Google has been trying to remove these sites from their search results for years.

This is done under the guise of being an independent reputable review website only to direct viewers to the product manufactuers website to earn commissions.

Here is the proof.  If you hover your mouse over the button on the right to go to the Citrix GoToMeeting Vendor Website you'll see the URL code at the bottom left.  Which starts with http://www.dpbolvw.net.  You'll notice that this link goes to commission junction.  This is how GoToMeeting knows to pay this fake review website commission for referring the prospective customer (along with a good review).

Check out the URL when you hover the mouse over the RHUB web conference product review (see red highlight at the bottom left of the below screen shot).

Here is a screen shot of TopTenReviews.com.  If you hover your mouse over the "Go" button you'll see that it sends the visitor to buyerzone who pays this site commission for referring the visitor. 

If a review site is really legitimate and unbiased there will be no affiliate code when clicking a link to the products website.  Caveat emptor to buyers.  Only use reputable sites like PC Magazine for product reviews and references.  I do reviews on this website, but you'll never see links to any of the vendors websites or commission junction.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

GotoMeeting / GotoWebinar Outage

I tried using my gotomeeting account today and it has been completely down all morning.  Just goes to show you that you get what you pay for.  I am am switching back to Adobe Connect.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Comparing Webex vs. Adobe Connect

After trial runs with both WebEx and Adobe Connect, I choose Adobe Connect hands down.

Here are a few of the major feature differences Adobe Connect Pro and WebEx:
  • Ease of joining meetings:  Adobe Connect is much more user friendly for attendees to join meetings because there is no download required for attendees. That means just about anyone can instantly access meetings without the hassle of software downloads—even your audience members operating in a software lock down environment. No hassle implementation in regards to your companies firewall security issues. WebEx requires a download for participants (Meeting Manager).
  • Adobe Connect allows for multiple hosts and presenters during a meeting (at the same time), which allows a more effortless flow of interaction among presenters.  WebEx allows only one presenter at a time.  The host can “pass the baton” to another presenter.
  • Recordings:  Both products include the ability to record meetings.  WebEx records to a proprietary .arf file format and requires the attendee to download a webex viewer” to watch a recording of a meeting.  Adobe Connect records to a universal Flash file format.  The Adobe Connect recording quality was so much better.  Finally, Adobe Connect recordings can be edited and you can even hide components from the live meeting like the attendee list or chat so that it does not appear in the recording.
  • WebEx’s interface is similar to many older web conferencing solutions, but we prefer the Adobe Connect’s cleaner interface as it provides a much more impressive, rich, multimedia experience. You can create as many individual Meetings Rooms as you like, and each Meeting Room interface can easily be customized for the needs of that meeting.
  • Video content played in the Adobe Connect environment is superior to any web conferencing solution that we have seen.
  • Mobile support:  WebEx "Meeting Center" works on mobile devices, but Event Center and Training Center versions do not at this time.  Adobe Connect works on all mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Andriod, BlackBerry, etc.).
  • Webinar Registration Functionality:  Both products  have the ability to create custom branded attendee registration landing pages with email reminders.  WebEx does have an advantage for anyone that requires e-commerce (payment processing).
  • Breakout rooms - This feature is included in the base price of Adobe Connect.  If you want breakout rooms with WebEx you have to buy Training Center which is very expensive.
Our Conclusion:
Both WebEx and Adobe Connect offer a full set of world-class user features for a productive, meeting environment.  In most cases, however, we favor Adobe Connect because it offers: superior user friendliness, superior video, and greater multimedia flexibility.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are Rehearsals and Site Inspections Obsolete for Webinars? No way!

There is no such thing as an instant Webinar.

In the age of instant gratification and technology, I have run across many a webinar producer that has made the mistake of assuming their webinar technology platform will read their mind, set itself up according to their requirements, and instantly produce a flawless event to a virtual audience of hundreds or thousands. This is a dangerous assumption.

A mission critical event to a large audience should never be left to the last minute. For example, a producer of a live in-person event will visit the physical event venue for a site inspection in advance of the event and then show up early for the event to make sure everything is correctly set up according to specifications before the event begins.

The same is true with a virtual event.

At a minimum a virtual event producer should spend time in the virtual room setting it up ahead of time, hold a rehearsal with all speakers, moderators and hosts, and, finally, build in a 30 minute pre-conference for speakers and hosts immediately prior to the event.

Take some time to avoid virtual event disasters.

8 Reasons to Prepare, ‘Site Inspect’ and Rehearse your Virtual Event

- Test audio integration: There are many audio options for your webinar, including universal audio integration. You can simulcast both the phone audio conference and VoIP, use the phone only, or use VoIP only. The universal integration needs to be done well in advance of the event. For audio options and integration how-to tips, please see.

- Check the speaker’s audio quality: There are many things that can reduce audio quality. Be sure to have all speakers use the exact same equipment during the rehearsal as they will use during the live event – this includes the computer and the actual phone or headset. Wireless is not recommended for either computer or phone and, of course, using a speakerphone is a big no-no.

- Ensure speaker understands how to use the platform: If your speaker is new to the particular webinar platform technology you are using, take the time to give him a tutorial, even if he is experienced at webinars in general. Just like it’s always awkward to drive someone else’s car, it can be equally awkward finding all the right buttons to push in a webinar room that is unfamiliar.

- Upload and flip through all slides: Uploading slides 15 minutes prior to your event is risky to say the least (especially if it’s a big file that may take some time to upload). Take the time to upload them during the rehearsal and flip through all of them to check for any misaligned text or images. Make any necessary changes to the deck and re-upload them before the pre-conference and re-check.

- Confirm all parties know how to get to your event: The rehearsal will give all your speakers, hosts and moderators a chance to ‘find’ the location – locating their login info, practice logging in, download the presenter add-in, and overcome any other technical issues related to browsers, etc. The last thing you need on the day-of is a missing speaker! - Review the flow of the event and room set up: Prepare any polls, chats, quizzes or multiple slide decks you’ll be using ahead of time using the layout functionally and arrange the layouts in order of your agenda. This will ensure a smooth flow and avoid having to ‘fish’ for polls during the live event.

- Prep your backstage and familiarize all hosts, speakers and moderators with it: Your Presenter Only Area is your private backstage area for hosts and presenters. This is a great place for the Attendee pod, a Presenter chat (so you can coordinate amongst yourselves without interrupting the event flow), the Presenter view of the Q&A pod and any notes or reminders you might have for your speakers or moderators. Remind your speakers to keep an eye on the backstage in case you need to communicate with them while they are presenting.

- Have an emergency plan and communicate it to all hosts, speakers and moderators: Virtual events are subject to things going wrong just like physical events. Think through what you will do if… your audio conferencing provider experiences an outage… if your speaker’s computer crashes… if your speaker accidentally hangs up on herself… if you lose your internet connection… etc, etc. And, yes, with 7 years of experience running upwards of 30 webinars a quarter, I have run into all of these and more!

So, don’t leave the details of producing your mission critical virtual event to the last 15 minutes, because treating webinars casually will get you into big trouble.

Good luck and may your next webinar run flawlessly!

Monday, January 14, 2013

WebEx Mobile Secret

A lot of viewers learned the hard way that although WebEx touts Mobile support it only works for "Meeting Center". Customers who purchase Event Center or Training Center are surprised to learn that there is no mobile device support. I personally think that WebEx should be more upfront about this limitation and stop misleading their customers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Microsoft Live Meeting Discontinued

A few readers have been asking me if  Microsoft Live Meeting is being officially sunsetted. I had to admit that I didn’t have any official information on the subject, so I thought I would try to find out from somebody at Microsoft. After a lot of calls and emails, I received the following reply, which I reprint here in its entirety:
Live Meeting is being discontinued and replaced by Microsoft Lync – the new business communications technology solution from Microsoft. Customers who have a Live Meeting Volume Licensing contract (either from Microsoft or via a partner) can stay on Live Meeting through the remainder of their contract. Transition for BPOS-S customers will be based on the transition from BPOS to Office 365, with some planned overlap of Live Meeting and Lync Online to allow for a smoother end user experience.

 So there it is… As much information as Microsoft is willing to share. Here’s my take on the statement and additional things I can glean from their various web resources.

It’s obvious that Live Meeting is going away.  Finish up your existing contract period and decide whether you want to use Lync for your web meetings or another technology.  I did a full comparison of Lync vs. Live Meeting last year.  If you just need basic web conferencing with small groups of internal staff members Lync is a good fit at a good price. If you need anything beyond the basics, you'll need to find another solution.  For example, if you are hosting webinars with attendee registration forget it.  Lync does not have any features to support this.  If your are meeting with external clients or partners Lync is difficult to use.  The download for someone to join a Lync meeting is 50.5Mb.  That is huge.

We polled readers for feedback and most switched to Adobe Connect for web meetings and webinars.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Adobe Connect 9

Adobe Systems Incorporated recently announced Adobe(R) Connect(TM) 9, the latest version of the company's Web conferencing software. Adobe Connect 9 delivers an all-in-one solution for producing webinars, as well as innovations in mobile-to-mobile collaboration and mobile learning.

Adobe added significant functionality around registration, attendee communications, customer-level and event-level branding, lead tracking, reporting, and analytics.  Webinar marketers should get very excited for the new capabilities.
New features include:
  • Greatly enhanced Event Registration Pages and Catalogs - Templates enable quick creation of landing pages, speaker information, registration pages and login pages. Templates can be customized using rich components, including images, tables, charts and carousels.
  • Rich customization of emails - Everything I said in the last paragraph applies to attendee emails as well. You have full drag and drop customization of HTML emails for things such as registration confirmation, reminders, and follow up messages.
  • Lead Tracking Analytics - Adobe has integrated full lead tracking all the way through the engagement process. You can set up parameters on the URL that brings people to your landing page or registration page. From then on, Connect tracks them all the way through the system. You can get reports showing the “funnel numbers” for each tracked campaign or lead source. How many people visited the landing page. Of those, how many clicked through to register. How many of them completed registration? How many then attended? How long were they in session? How much did they interact with the software during the session? And if your company uses Adobe’s SiteCatalyst, you can dump all the information into that marketing analysis tool to be cut, aggregated and reported as desired. You can even set up lead qualification criteria based on a combination of an attendee’s registration field demographic answers and their real-time behaviors during the webinar. So a sales rep could give higher priority to an attendee who asked a lot of questions than to someone who just passively watched the presentation.
     promotions and programs as a whole.
  • Graphical reporting - Post-webinar reports get some very fancy online eye-candy. Lead funnels, minute-by-minute attendance and engagement, poll results, and more can all be seen online with nice graphic depictions. Some even allow interaction to focus in on details. This feature needs some extension in a future release to allow saving or downloading the information in graphical format. For the moment, downloaded reports are numerical only.Engagement dashboard to monitor participant engagement in real time (are they participating in the Webinar, chats, surveys, etc.) 
  • Campaign tracking& Qualified lead scoring
  • Increased event capacity of up to 1,500 participants
  • Recording Enhancements: Privacy and content controls in recordings,Pause and resume recordings during live sessions, and Customizable recording indexes
  • Survey/Polling Enhancements: Adobe Connect now have the ability to run a real-time interactive poll that allows type-in answers. You can display the responses to the audience, acting as a great brainstorming whiteboard.
  • Advanced Mobile Support for Meetings and Training -- You will be able to present from or attend from just about any mobile device -- whether iOS (such as an iPad), Android, or BlackBerry PlayBook. They added some touch-screen enhancements to allow “finger painting” whiteboard annotations and selection of meeting content. The one restriction I noted is that you can’t select document files living on an iOS device’s local memory. So presenting slides, PDFs, or anything other than a simple photograph from an iPad requires a pre-meeting step of uploading the content to your Adobe account on the server. Android devices do not have this limitation.
  • eLearning improvement:  Adobe Connect will now support HTML5 and SCORM 1.2 content. They are adding a more comprehensive course registration module, while Presenter and Captivate will get upgrades as part of Adobe’s ELS (eLearning Suite).SCORM compatibility and reporting improvements for eLearning
Adobe greatly improved on it's web conferencing product that was already voted Editor's Choice by PC Magazine last year.
There have been a number of new features added to Adobe Connect recordings to help make them even better. In this sneak peek video learn how you can now edit and customize the index (which is now much more discoverable) as well as anonymize your recording by hiding names or pods.

A major focus of Adobe Connect 9 has been helping customers create even better virtual events. Adobe Connect 9 brings major updates to the Events module including a brand new event catalog and registration system as well as new reports and analytics.

Finally, we also wanted to give webinar hosts and presenters a way to measure engagement during their events. In Adobe Connect 9, we're introducing the Engagment Meter - providing real time feedback on the level of engagement during an event.