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Airtime, the Celebrity-Vetted Live Video Platform
By: Jennifer Stack
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Airtime is the newest venture by Napster founder Sean Parker and a perfect embodiment of one of the most unique aspects of the Internet: the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime. An ode to Chatroulette, Airtime follows the concept of one-on-one video chat but, as its mission statement explains, Airtime “creates shared experiences with people you know, and people you want to know.” What is truly exceptional about the new live video platform is its ability to remove the arbitrary X factor that fueled the fun of Chatroulette. “Airtime pairs you with other users based on the information in your profile and the criteria that you select. Once you’re paired with someone, you can see the interests and friends you have in common by clicking the Airtime logo in the center of the screen. You remain anonymous to the other user until either of you send an “Add” request and the other person accepts it.” This defining element of the service creates a comfort zone for individuals who are not completely at peace with broadcasting themselves to a complete and total stranger under no pretense online and alleviates some privacy concerns for those who steer on the side of caution.

Airtime is available to anyone 13 years or older with an active Facebook account. At the moment, no other social network login integration is incorporated, and Airtime is not supported by mobile devices or tablet computers, a major barrier to entry for Gen Y.  However, Airtime counters by allowing users to play YouTube videos for their friends while video chatting and enabling them to see each other’s live reactions to the content. Detracting from the real-time aspect of the self-described life video platform is the functionality provided to leave short video messages for friends who do not pick up on the first few calls to their Airtime account.

Airtime’s Facebook integration taps into a scaled audience base that is comfortable releasing their interests and acting on prompts from social networks, a key association to any emerging platform looking to earn the awareness and trust of any online demographic. Incorporating gamification principles, Airtime includes a badge and point system for users to engage with. Spurring this friendly competition, the first million Airtime users receive a founder’s badge, an incentive to amass a large user base.

Nearly a month after the celebrity-clad (read: Martha Stewart, Jimmy Fallon, Joel McHale, Snoop Dog, Ed Helms, Julia Louis Dreyfus, and Alicia Keys), both in the flesh and online launch of Airtime (June 5, 2012), the platform has not released any statistics. From what we can see, the mainstream media hype is not translating as the Airtime Facebook page yields only 8,455 Likes, while their Twitter page maintains half the audience presence at 4,353 Followers. Still, there is major potential for the platform to explode and expand advertising options online. For now, it remains one to watch.

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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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