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ON24 Brings Social Media Capabilities To Webcasting Platform

The development environment uses widgets to add collaboration, training, and social network feed tools to online meetings.

ON24, a developer of software as a service (SaaS) applications, on Tuesday released a platform that allows businesses to personalize Webcasts and build custom Webcasting applications, enabling viewers to interact with presenters, communicate with other Webcast participants, and more easily consume Webcast content.

With Webcasting Platform 10, ON24 integrated social media capabilities into its Webcasting platform, Mark Szelenyi, senior director of Webcasting, told InformationWeek. Customers can provision the system themselves or turn to ON24 to provide turnkey service, and can use as few or as many widgets available to customize their Webcasts, he said.

The cloud-based widget development environment uses open APIs so third-party developers easily can create Flash applications for any Webcasts. Today, there are more than 50 widgets available for Platform 10, according to ON24. These widgets include a Platform 10 social media bundle, which features Web 2.0 and social networking tools such as Twitter, Wikipedia, Facebook, LinkedIn, and RSS feeds; a collaboration bundle featuring tools for group chat and brainstorming that solicits ideas from Webcast attendees and allows all participants to rank and prioritize ideas for later review; and a corporate training bundle, with testing, certification, curriculum management, and Learning Management System (LMS) integration.

"Social networking and interaction between attendees is richer," Szelenyi said. "We have a speaker bio widget, which is a custom element that you can open up in the Webcast and you can put it away if you don't want to see it. You can do the same with a Twitter feed, for example, and let people tweet about the Webcast. We've done similar things by allowing you to bring RSS feeds, like the speaker's blog or job feeds, into a Webcast. You can use our transcript widget to bring a Spanish or German transcript on-demand."

Access to social networking tools was the most popular feature for almost 40% of respondents in a user poll conducted by ON24. In addition, 80% said they preferred the ability to customize their Webcasts and the greater control the Platform 10 gave them, the study said.

"Where ON24 is really still at the forefront, especially with the new [Platform] 10 offering, it's allowing the user to create their own experience when they come into the Webinar," Tim Stark, director of online events at Penton Media, told InformationWeek. In the six years it has used ON24 to host and create its Webcasts, the business-to-business publishing company has seen its volume increase from 14 to 400 live events annually, he said.

"We're managing at any given time 50 to 55 live events, somewhere in promotion to production," said Stark." On Wednesday, the group is doing seven live at the same time in seven different markets. Are we nervous? Of course, it's live theater. But I'm not nervous about the technology."

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