A Virtual Live Auction is a webcast version of a live gala auction, with supporters bidding from home. Bidders use two screens/windows: eg they may watch the webcast on a laptop and bid on their phone. The auctioneer uses three screens/windows for 1) the real-time broadcast, 2) their script notes, and 3) to monitor bids.
We are currently developing a simulcast tool to allow bidders and your team to work from one screen (we hope to have it ready by June) but here are instructions for how you can use our software now to support your Virtual Live Auction.
For a broader overview on how to run a Virtual Live Auction, read our White Paper.
There are currently two varying approaches to Virtual Live Auctions: TV-Style and Real Time. Both models are being tested in this time of pandemic and there are no definitive "best practices" yet. These descriptions include the known pros and cons of each - it's up to you to decide which approach you want to use or modify.
TV-style is essentially the tried-and-true television sales model: A charismatic team talks up the wonders of the item being offered, and sales (bidding) are live for a limited time. Items are set to close at scheduled times, and both the bidders and the auctioneer know the closing times. Before the first item closes, the auctioneer and emcee can start talking up the next item. And they can intersperse the selling of one item with updates on how bidding is going on the previous item.
- settings can be automated - so fewer moving parts to manage in real time;
- everyone is bidding in real time and knows exactly when items are closing,
- ALL bids can be captured using the extended bidding feature.
- fixed schedule can be unforgiving if you fall behind and chaotic if you need to adjust;
- may feel less like a live auction since your onscreen team isn't orchestrating the bidding.
Real Time is standard live auction bidding, but online. The auctioneer monitors bids as they come in and sells the item and the organization's mission until that item closes. In this model, a bid tracking assistant manually closes the item at a signal from the auctioneer.
- Everyone is focused on a single item and auctioneers can cajole the highest possible bids from participants;
- feels most like the Live Auction supporters were looking forward to.
- ALL webcasts have latency (the time difference between the actual filming and when the viewer sees it) - which means that the auctioneer and viewers are not seeing/hearing anything at the same time. Latency will also vary from viewer to viewer, with a range of 10 - 40 second delays common. The bidding software will reflect current bidding activity - but it won't line up with what is being said on the webcast. This can be confusing, and result in bad will if "late" bids due to latency delays are rejected.
- the auctioneer cannot start selling the next item until the current item/group closes.
You'll handle these five elements of your Virtual Live Auction in our software:
- Adding/Editing Items for Virtual Live Bidding
- Invite Supporters to Bid
- Providing Access and Assistance to Bidders
- Creating Online Bidding Groups
- Monitoring Bidding
- Closing Bidding and Awarding Items to Winners
Instructions for the first three are provided below. The last three require different instructions for TV-Style vs Real Time webcasts, which you can find here:
Adding/Editing Items for Virtual Live Bidding
You'll add your items to your catalog just as you always have. But, even though they are selling as Live items, you'll need to assign them type=Silent to enable them to be sold online.
- Create an Item Category named "Live Items" (optional). If you're a premium subscriber and using Master Categories, you have the option of creating a Master Category instead
- Category = Live Items (this can be bulk edited on existing items).
- Display Order - if you want your Live items to display first in your public catalog - assign a number for the display order. If you don't know the exact order yet, you can assign them all as "1" until you do.
- Type = Silent
- Bidding Style = Online/Mobile. If you haven't created/finalized your online bidding group(s) yet, you can use the default bidding group for now, and individually or bulk edit your virtual live items once you've created your desired bidding group(s).
- Make sure Item is Visible to the Public.
- Add or Edit your Online Paddle Raise/Special Appeal.
Invite Supporters to Bid
The best way to provide easy access to bidding is to send invitations to bid to your supporters. Invitations contain a token/link which will bring your supporter directly to your online catalog welcome page, logged in and ready to bid. Since invitations must be sent from the software (to generate the personal token), you'll want as many of supporters as possible to have a User record. You can upload them from a spreadsheet if necessary.
Invitations to Bid are typically emailed. Plus subscribers also have the option to text individual invitations to supporters that can't access the email (see below) and Premium subscribers have the ability to bulk send text invites.
Anyone that doesn't already have a user record can use the Signup link to create their own bidding account.
Bidder Help Line
Be sure to display, promote, and monitor a phone help line for bidder assistance.
An online bidding account is required in order to bid. If a person (not business) has a User record in the software, you can use the tools below to either provide them with an online bidding account or place a proxy bid for them.
If they do not have a User Record, you can create one at Admin > Manage Users > Add a User > Provide First and Last Name, and any other info your event is requiring > Save.
Assisting with Access to Bid
Go to Auction Night Tasks > Mobile Invites:
- Use Search Filters to locate their User record. Note that you will need to change filter from Ticketed Guests to All Users if you haven't sold tickets.
- Click on the Get Code button in far right column.
- Send a Text or Email Invite to Bid or click on Manual tab provide them with their short code to login at NowGoBid.com