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23 Min Read

Battle of the best webinar platforms: Teams, Zoom, ON24 or GoToWebinar?

September 1, 2021 / Unisys Corporation

Microsoft Teams, Zoom, ON24 and GoToWebinar — oh my! As the unified communications (UC) workplace continues to grow, so does the number of different webinar hosting platforms. What used to be a relatively simple ”standalone” webinar app choice now involves either: 1) examining how a video collaboration platform (like Zoom or Teams) can successfully evolve to fulfill webinar needs or 2) evaluating whether a point-solution like ON24 or GoToWebinar is still king of the hill. Typical live meetings involve a lot of back-and-forth between participants — including sharing materials and discussing when, what and how tasks are assigned and accepted. The main difference between a webinar and a live meeting is that a webinar is more controlled, as the participants have clear roles assigned. One or more experts present their ideas or provide training for a wider audience. Today, nearly 60% of B2B professionals watch webinars every week, and nearly 70% of businesses rely on webinars to help convert users into paying customers.

So, how do you choose the best webinar platform that will function as the core training and lead-generation engine to drive your company’s success? We’ve partnered with our friends at Metrigy to break it all down for you in this post. First, we’ll provide a brief overview of each webinar hosting platform and then compare them with detailed analyses of different features and benefits, such as analytics, video settings, pricing, etc.

Understanding your options for webinar hosting platforms

Before we dive into the specific features of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, ON24 and GoToWebinar, let’s take some time to understand the primary function of each.

GoToWebinar: GoToWebinar connects you to coworkers, customers and prospects. The main audiences for this platform are businesses and sole proprietors but are not limited to only them. GoToWebinar helps these organizations create and deliver online and video conferences for any audience. One crucial component of this platform is the ability to prerecord your webinar to look and feel just like a live event. With the help of GoToStage’s webinar hosting platform, you can promote your event so potential clients can discover your most engaging content.

Zoom: With over 300 million daily meeting participants, Zoom provides a simple, modern, cloud-based webinar platform. Zoom Webinars, an optional key feature of Zoom’s overall conferencing and phone services, enable organizations to unite people from all over the world in board, conference, huddle and training rooms; offices and classrooms.

Microsoft Teams: When Microsoft bundled most of its collaborative business software into Teams, the company pronounced the product as the team for everyone. Through chats, calls and video conferencing, Teams allows anyone to engage at any time. With the addition of webinars, it is now easier than ever to broadcast to your organization. And, thanks to its full integration with Microsoft 365, all your documents remain easy to find and use.

ON24: With ON24, you can choose from a live, simu-live (a prerecorded webinar posted to a live audience) or an on-demand webinar to connect with your audience. Unlike the previously mentioned platforms, ON24 prides itself on only charging for your organization’s needs. A consultant can help design a webinar solution to fit your requirements.

Webinar end-user features

In the hybrid workspace, having a webinar-capable platform can be crucial to collaborating successfully within an organization. Many companies have come to terms with this fact, but in a world with so many options, it is hard to know where to start. To help ease this confusion, we have outlined critical end-user features and how they differ between Teams, Zoom, GoToWebinar and ON24.

Onboarding end-users

Over the past few years, Zoom and Teams have invested much time and energy in redesigning and simplifying their webinar onboarding processes. To begin a webinar with Zoom, you have the option of two approval methods to ensure your webinar is secure. By sending all attendees a confirmation email with details on how to join the webinar, authorized users will be Automatically Approved. Hosts can also manually approve by deliberately approving or declining a registrant. If a registrant is approved, they will receive an email detailing how to join the webinar. Similarly, Teams webinar registration can be restricted to people within your organization who use Teams.

ON24 takes it one step further and provides a 45-minute virtual onboarding webinar for management to review. This webinar covers topics such as how to transform onboarding into an interactive experience, improve new hire satisfaction and retention and train your global new hires at a significantly lower cost. While this experience can provide an abundance of helpful information for HR and management, it comes at a price; users must be registered to watch this webinar. In contrast, GoToWebinar offers seven self-paced learning modules on topics such as starting a meeting or engaging your audience.

Hosting live vs. prerecorded webinars

Depending on the purpose of a meeting, you may want to be able to prerecord a presentation to broadcast to your audience. Within Teams, Zoom and ON24, webinars can be live, simu-live or on-demand. During a simu-live meeting, you can present previously recorded content within a live session. During this prerecorded meeting, attendees can view the content but cannot share their audio, video or content. Instead, they can access the live chat and Q&A if they have input.

GoToWebinar offers the ability to create an automated webinar experience that resembles a live session. Users are provided with reminder emails, interactive polls and handouts, a post-session survey and can use the Q&A feature to receive automated responses. The host can schedule the webinar ahead of time or make it on-demand, allowing attendees to watch it at any time.

Feature GoToWebinar Zoom Microsoft Teams ON24
On-demand Archive Online recordings are automatically uploaded to library Requires registration; users view and download; generates host report Access through recording link or through Microsoft Stream Access through portal housing all webinar, video, PDF content

Webinar engagement features

Each webinar-hosting platform possesses all the standard features we expect from a video conferencing platform: mobile and desktop apps, screen-sharing, admin controls and virtual backgrounds. A few key features, however, set the webinar platforms apart.

Basic features, like webinar waiting rooms, surveys and file-sharing, allow users to stay engaged with the speaker no matter which platform they are using. Most platforms have created a feature to include interactive polls, yet Teams needs to catch up in this area. Teams is working on adding this feature but has yet to do so. On Zoom, file transfer enables you to send files to other meeting participants during the meeting or webinar through the in-meeting/webinar chat. Zoom sets itself apart by allowing files to be sent to all participants, directly to one participant or to specific predefined groups — such as all panelists in a webinar.

Teams and ON24 enable users to be put into breakout rooms/sessions. One drawback specific to ON24 is that each event is limited to 10 rooms. Teams can assign attendees to specific breakout rooms with timers, retention rate metrics and reassignment abilities that go further than any of the respective vendors. These features support virtual exhibit halls, 1-on-1 sales meetings or further interaction with panel speakers to be managed more efficiently.

One frustrating aspect of Zoom polling is that although the results of the polls can be easily shared during the webinar, the actual recording of the webinar does not capture this. To save webinars for later, on-demand showings, a screenshot of the poll results needs to be captured during the live event and then edited back into the recording in post-production.

Feature GoToWebinar Zoom Microsoft Teams ON24
Audience Interaction Reply to organizer only Listen-only audience, can be unmuted, raise hand, use chat Live reactions, unmute participants, live chat Live chat and gamification of interaction
Polling, Q&A Yes, with manual survey Yes, with automatic survey Yes, powered by Microsoft Poll Live polls/surveys, moderated Q&A
Breakout Rooms/Sessions Not offered Not offered Yes, with timers, retention, reassignment ON24 Breakouts: 10 rooms per event
Virtual Exhibit Halls/Meetings Not supported Not supported Conducted via lobby and breakout rooms Conducted via breakout rooms

Advanced video settings for webinar platforms

As remote work became the new norm, Zoom recognized the need for advanced video settings to help users — including webinar hosts and panelists — enhance their appearance. Zoom’s “Touch Up My Appearance” feature uses a real-time algorithm to identify your face in the visual feed and automatically apply a soft focus. While Teams offers similar features, GoToWebinar and ON24 fall behind, as they only offer features like blurred or custom backgrounds.

In addition, Teams has presented a critical feature called “Together Mode” that brings a greater in-person experience for viewers, as speakers can be placed together in-frame. In Presenter Mode, speakers can be put in front of their content to simulate a physical setting — something that the ON24 and Zoom advanced presentation methods cannot do.

Last, while Teams offers live captioning in six other languages in addition to the primary language, Zoom is the only provider that offers native, real-time translation, as Teams does not offer any audio translation. ON24 and GoToWebinar utilize Interprefy — a remote simultaneous interpretation platform — for real-time translation. However, it is essential to point out that Zoom does not provide live captioning in languages other than English.

Feature GoToWebinar Zoom Microsoft Teams ON24
Real-time Translation Interprefy integration Up to 20 participants with separate audio feeds Live captioning in six other languages Interprefy integration and captioning for past webinars
Automatic Transcription Can transcribe after recording Zoom live transcription or integrated third-party service Live transcription with speaker name and time stamp Available for on-demand/simu-live webinars only
Advanced Presentation Not offered Immersive View: presenters in one scene but with no content Together Mode: presenters in one scene and can present in front of content Present content in multiple panes

Maximum number of webinar attendees

When choosing a webinar hosting platform, the number of attendees you can host is crucial. Below is a ranking of each platform from the lowest to highest number of supported attendees:

Teams offers its Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan. For companies looking to host webinars, they can organize and hold interactive webinars for up to 1,000 attendees with Teams. For some companies, more than 1,000 seats are needed.

ON24 is best suited for small- or medium-sized events. This is because no event is allowed to exceed 2,500 attendees.

With a slightly higher attendee capacity, GoToWebinar allows organizers to host up to 3,000 participants in its webinar rooms.

Finally, Zoom webinar licenses start at a capacity of 500 participants. If you are still looking for more seats, you can contact a sales representative to get set up for an Events plan to host up to 50,000 seats.

Webinar analytics

When determining if a platform is right for you or your company, receiving specific types of analytics can be vital to proper integration. We will spend the next section diving into the pre-, live and post-webinar analytics each platform provides to help you track the success of your events.

GoToWebinar: Within GoToWebinar, you can easily access and view past, live and recorded events. High-level analytics of your webinar history are presented in easy-to-read charts and reports, which is handy when you need detailed performance metrics of your sessions. Reports cover the session’s overview, registration, multi-session attendees, overall attendees, engagement, Q&A, performance, survey and recording. Cumulative analytics are available for all live event recordings, or you can get details on a specific session. If you are looking for specific details from a session, you can build specialized reports to receive analytics catered to your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs).

Zoom: Zoom offers a plethora of reports to assess the responses of the attendants:

  1. Registration report: Can be accessed at any time, showcasing important data collected from the registration page
  2. Attendee report: Reveals who showed up for the event, what time they joined/left the meeting and how long they were connected
  3. Performance report: Shows how many questions were asked in a Q&A session and determines the level of engagement from the audience
  4. Q&A report: Provides a roundup of all questions asked
  5. Polling report: Enables you to view how each person voted in a poll unless you made the poll anonymous
  6. Survey report: Obtains specific feedback from your audience post-webinar to help you improve your next event

Teams: Microsoft Teams prides itself on bringing together the structure required to host large events and the simplicity of delivering them. Hosts can view and download the participant list so they can follow up after the meeting. One crucial component of hosting webinar events is the ability to view pre-, live, and post-webinar analytics. Microsoft natively supports insights on key webinar KPIs, such as total page views on your webinar registration form, number of registered participants, actual attendees, average attendance time and even a play-by-play breakdown of each participant’s activity during the webinar. After the webinar concludes, you can access an analytical dashboard full of practical insights.

ON24: In addition to offering standard analytics capabilities, ON24 merges the deep-rooted analytics gathered about your audience’s activity across live and personalized content experiences in an Engagement Score. It uses participation levels, responsiveness and interactivity to display an individual’s level of interest. These metrics can then be shared across the organization to automatically integrate the profile with your customer relationship management (CRM) system to advise what action to take next. Advanced Analytics is an add-on product; ON24 offers a free 30-day trial. The program provides access to a variety of data and reporting, including:

  • Prospect Engagement Profiles: Analyze each lead in-depth, including engagement, content journey and interaction details
  • Account Engagement Reports: Determine all engagement at the account level
  • Account Engagement Profiles: Examine all engagement and interaction at a single-account level
  • Funnel Analytics: Track every lead as it advances down the sales funnel
  • Polls and Surveys Reports: Get an accumulated view of poll or survey questions across all events
Feature GoToWebinar Zoom Microsoft Teams ON24
Audience Analytics Tracks session attentiveness, attendance rate, join/leave times Collects join/leave times, total time, attendance, engagement measures; exportable Registration page collects data and presents in dashboard Collects viewer data, downloads content and creates report automatically

Webinar platform pricing

If you are still unsure which webinar hosting platform will fit your needs, each platform offers a limited free trial. GotoWebinar provides a free 7-day trial with no commitments. Users can trial ON24 Webcast Elite for 30 days at no cost. Teams permits a 30-day trial for its Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan but requires a credit card on file that will be charged after the trial has ended. While Zoom does not offer a free trial, you can request a free live demo to experience the platform and ask questions.

Platform Options
GoToWebinar Lite
$49/month/license (Annual commitment)
$99/month/license (Annual commitment)
$199/month/ license (Annual commitment)
$399/month/license (Annual commitment)
Zoom Webinar
Microsoft Teams Microsoft 365 Business Standard
$12.50 user/month (Annual commitment)
ON24 Custom Pricing
Custom pricing provided from a sales representative based on your needs

How to choose the best webinar platform for your business

So, now that we have broken down a variety of important topics, go ahead and choose!

If only it were that easy. We know that your final choice depends on your organizational needs and requirements. Each webinar hosting platform offers key advantages that help it stand apart from competitors. For example, Microsoft Teams’ key advantage over competitors is its deep integration with Microsoft 365. Smaller businesses, such as those with 10-50 employees, often prefer using GoToWebinar for their web and video conferencing needs because of its affordability. Just like any other platform, it provides top-of-the-line functionality but at a reasonable price. Zoom is a very well-known name in the video collaboration platform world and for good reason. Zoom helps keep large companies connected by supporting large online conferences while ON24 offers a remarkable Engagement Hub. This hub provides a “one-stop shop” for engagement analytics; tracking an employee’s participation levels, responsiveness and interactivity has never been easier.

In our modern digital workplace, finding the perfect webinar-capable platform is more important than ever. According to recent studies, 78% of corporate companies use video calling software for team meetings. If your organization is considering moving to a new video conferencing solution, Unisys is here to help. We understand the difficulties and complexities associated with migrating from one communication platform to another while supporting your employees.

Learn more about how Unisys can help you optimize communication and collaboration in your digital workplace.