Webcast vs webinar: how to decide which of these formats you should choose for your online event

When you want to hold a corporate event online, you need to ask yourself what format should be adopted for this event. The subject of an online event’s format is admittedly a broad one, but you could start by deciding whether your event ought to be a webcast or webinar.

The similarities between these two terms may have led you to perceive them as practically synonyms. However, you would be mistaken on that count — and opting for one of these distinct routes over the other could have lasting implications for your event’s success.

How do webcasts and webinars fundamentally differ?

TechFunnel describes a webcast as an “entirely one-way presentation from presenter to attendees”. In this sense, webcasts “are primarily based on the video to user models, just like a television show”.

So, what is a webinar? There’s a big clue in the term itself — which, as Ask Any Difference explains, combines the words ‘web’ and ‘seminar’. Yes, a webinar essentially constitutes an online seminar, making it more collaborative — and suited to a smaller number of viewers — than a webcast.

What does your business want to achieve with its online event?

If you are about to unveil a new product, you might currently be envisioning a glitzy, Apple-style press event where you would show off your new product to people streaming the presentation from their own homes. Making this event a webcast would therefore make a lot of sense. 

After all, you probably won’t feel the need to take any questions from the audience during the presentation. However, you might still want to stream the event as it actually happens, since advertising the event’s live nature in advance could help you to effectively tap into your target audience’s FOMO (fear of missing out).

Therefore, it could be a very shrewd move for you to find a webcast platform with which you would be able to live-stream your product launch but still make it available to view on an on-demand basis afterwards.

How to do marketing in a way that doesn’t really look like marketing 

One issue when preparing to hold a product launch event is that, however much you might attempt to drum up eager anticipation, many people could still feel deterred from watching what clearly remains a piece of marketing. So, are there alternative, subtler ways you could reach out to people?

Yes: by addressing their specific pain points and explaining how you would be able to help these people with resolving them. This is where deciding to hold a webinar instead of a webcast can really come into its own.

Even the term ‘webinar’ itself suggests more of an educational, rather than promotional, intent. So, if someone wants to learn a rather specialist skill, such as how to fix a leaky pipe or modify a PC’s innards, you could hold a webinar specifically aimed at teaching this skill.

You might even find that a particular self-styled ‘webcast’ platform you come across would also work well at facilitating the delivery of webinars at your behest.