You threw a killer event; sold tons of tickets, lots of interesting people came and partied like it was ‘99, shared photos, liked sponsors’ pages, and then talked about their experiences on Facebook and Twitter over the next several days.
Boom! Nailed it. Then what?
As the person responsible for proving the success of an event, you should feel empowered to effectively articulate the value back to the powers that be. Venues, sponsors, and brands are able to measure their Return on Investment (ROI) within other industries and for some reason, events have often been excused.
Herein lies the problem – there’s a major disconnect between the digital inventory gathered from an event and the live event itself. The holdup is an inability to capture and make sense of all the fragmented data that comes from web, mobile, social, and live interactions.
In a world where we have an exciting opportunity to merge innovative technologies like smartphones and wearable devices with deeply engaging live event experiences (music, sports, tech conferences), we seem to be doing a poor job of representing the value of this “cool event stuff.” In order for the industry to evolve, a major emphasis on data-driven event strategies and reporting will need to be universally implemented.
As discussed in a recent article from Venture Beat, the events industry is HUGE. Just how big? “PriceWaterhouseCooper estimates that $108 billion is spent per year in just the production of events in the US, which makes events a bigger industry overall than even the US automotive industry…” Evidently, there’s a lot of investment dedicated to live events. The question that comes from the market should be: how are we going to properly measure and report on the value of our investment? Metrics for most media and entertainment verticals come from prominent measurement platforms:
- Nielsen for Television
- Arbitron for Radio
- Comscore for Digital Media
Proper measurement data is a must. Whether you like or dislike these measurement platforms, they are effective. The aforementioned companies have developed value systems in an effort to legitimize their respective industries—which in effect, have created economies of scale and transparency within inherently nebulous markets. So let’s be real – there are three main drivers of revenue for live events:
- Ticket Sales
- Sponsorships (RFPs)
- Merchandise and Concessions
Sure, all of this is tracked and reported on, usually in an abyss of Excel spreadsheets at the end of an event. If the revenue numbers are higher than the year previous, the event is deemed “successful” and if lower “less successful.” In short, ticket sales are stuck in old marketing methodologies, sponsors rarely get any substantial reporting on their investment, and merchandise and concessions are generally lumped together without any real insights on purchasing behaviors. It comes down to very little reporting against any real value system.
With the right data sets, event marketers can understand their audience behaviors and interests at deeply segmented levels and then take action on that data.
So let’s get us some data! But it doesn’t stop there. Collecting the right data across several platforms, correlating it and taking action is really the point where the market becomes efficient and reaches its maximum value proposition. With the right data sets, event marketers can understand their audience behaviors and interests at deeply segmented levels and then take action on that data. A few examples:
- Build targeted marketing campaigns to Club Seat vs. General Admission ticket holders
- Align sponsorship booths (food and beverage) next to the most relevant band stages (based on audience interests) to maximize sales and optimize traffic flow
- Report back to brands on accurate engagement metrics across web, mobile and social platforms (before, during and after events)—effectively showing brand lift due to presence at an event
- Run paid social media campaigns to C-level Executives on LinkedIn who have a propensity to buy season tickets for the Minnesota Timberwolves (ok, maybe that’s a stretch)
For context, based on my experience with Umbel’s Digital Genome® technology, these ideas can become reality via data-driven event marketing strategies. Umbel is now helping organizations drive revenue and substantial ROI for events directly from our platform; which encompasses very sophisticated, structured data sets in a product built precisely for sales and marketing teams.
As technology innovations (mobile apps., electronic registration, RFID) are rapidly integrated into live event planning and reporting, we are spoiled with extraordinary insights into our attendees behaviors like never before. Don’t let your live event audience be unidentifiable and only repeatable on a whim—get to know them, you might just find the value you’ve been looking for.