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What is the difference between a webinar and a video presentation?


Producing high-quality videos has become increasingly simple. All you need is a modern smartphone, a microphone and your content, and anyone can create a video presentation in no time. Search for the term “webinar” on YouTube and you will get millions of results. On the other end of the scale are the highly professional webinar solutions, developed by global software companies. So what is the difference between a webinar and a video presentation you can find on YouTube?

Depending on who you talk to, the term “webinar” means different things. Some will tell you that a webinar is just a presentation or talk captured on video and uploaded to Vimeo, YouTube, a website on any other portal. Others will tell you that a webinar is a live stream within a custom-designed interface, a presentation slide deck, Q&A and a variety of other interactivity elements. So who is right?

The truth is that the term “webinar” is so generic that it means different things to different people. After all, “webinar” comes from a combination of the words “web” and “seminar”. The question, instead, is what do you want to achieve with a webinar? The answer to that will determine which solution is the most suitable to you.

Do you want to “spread the word”?

Many of the webinars that come only in the form of a video file are produced by individuals or companies whose intention it is to “spread the word”. The main purpose is to create awareness of a particular topic by publishing video content. This can be anything from self-help content to recorded business talks. But in essence that is all they are – recordings. These differ very little from Vlogs (video blogs).

The primary intention for these videos is not to gather viewer insight, tangible metrics or even provide measurable calls to action (CTAs). The reason this cannot be their primary intention is because the data provided by videos are predominantly vanity metrics. Knowing your video had 10,000 views on YouTube, 1000 comments or 100 shares may fill the producer with pride, but it does not provide them with any actionable data on which to base their lead generation efforts. Why? Because videos of this nature do not provide personally identifiable user data, i.e. names, email addresses etc of those viewing them.

As a result, video producers are not able to follow-up, nurture or identify viewers of their videos. Even if you don’t intend to be “salesy” (which, in the age of sophisticated lead nurturing, is an outdated notion anyway), a lack of this personal data and usage insight means you are unable to foster individual commercial relationships by providing relevant follow-up information. In other words, you’re flying blind – at least in a commercial sense.

Do you want to generate and nurture leads?

In contrast, dedicated webinars solutions have built-in registration forms by default. As a result, webinar organisers generate user profiles before the webinar has even started. Any additional user data gathered post-registration can now be attributed to the individual registrant – including whether they even attended or not.

The second major difference is the user interface, also known as the webinar console. The best webinar platforms allow for full customisation and personalisation of the webinar console, although the degree of customisation may vary – especially amongst the lower end of the market. As a result of the high degree of customisation, webinar organisers can offer a fully branded experience as well as – more importantly – a high level of interactivity via a variety of in-webinar apps. How?

In-webinar apps, also known as widgets, offer the ability to interact with the presenters and ask questions, participate in polls and surveys, access your social media networks directly from within the webinar, access supporting documentation and videos (!), participate in group chats, or share the webinar with colleagues – to name but a few. Good webinar platforms are designed to track any user activity, and crunch that data in sophisticated real-time analytics. Interactive in-webinar apps therefore provide two vital functions: user engagement and user insight. The higher (read: longer and more active) the engagement, the better the insight.

There are, of course, many other differences between videos and webinars. But at the core, the ones we have outlined here matter the most to marketers, because ultimately data forms the basis for all other marketing efforts.


So, instead of standing on the street corner with a megaphone, you are the person everyone has chosen to engage in conversation at a dinner party. You know who you are talking to and you offer the ability for those listening to ask questions. As a result you are getting to know your audience, creating a relationship, and providing them with more of what they want to know about – instead of talking at them. Webinars create dialogues. Videos create monologues.

If you intend to generate leads and create meaningful interactions, webinars are the right tool for you. They continue to grow in popularity with organisers and attendees – and even sales reps love leads generated by webinars because they are more engaged and have a better recall of the content and their attendance, compared to traditional marketing content.

Webinars may cost more than videos produced on a shoestring, but consider the return you gain on your investment in professional marketing webinars that produce actionable insight. Your target audience is watching (and silently judging) – give them what they want and deserve.

Get in touch today for a free demo of the webinar platform hailed as “The best webinar platform for marketers” by Forrester Research. Call us on UK 0207 1939 748 / US 302-261-5178 or sign up here for a 30-day free webinar trial.

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