The Value of Data in 2017 for Live Events

The latest installment of the XLIVE Annual Conference & Expo brought together a wealth of experts, workshops and panels in the live event and festival production industries. And while the Data & Analytics Summit is still over two months away, that didn’t stop data from being an inescapable part of the conversation at the annual conference.

One of the big questions? Everybody knows data is important, but what are people doing about it, and specifically what should I be doing with it? Sessions with Kevin Safford, Umbel’s Director of Data Science, and Dave Cedrone, Senior Partner—Strategic Services, broke down how data can (and should) play a role in increasing ticket sales, sponsorship opportunities, and overall, better connecting to fans.

Check out their their take from XLIVE’s interview series below on how event organizers can use fan data to their advantage—and the trends they’re seeing with leading live organizations.

XLIVE: Kevin – You gave a presentation at XLIVE focused on The Value of Data, specifically why we need it and when it pays off. As live event producers start to gear up for their 2017 events, what are the most important metrics they need to look at from their 2016 events to determine how they can more effectively monetize their target audiences from a ticket sales standpoint next year?

Kevin Safford: At Umbel we often refer to the concept of “Fan Lifetime Value” as a combination of metrics that include a fan’s current known spend and predicted future spend in addition to their word of mouth value as social media influencers. However, the most important thing for event organizers to think about is how they are going to determine a quantifiable measure of engagement—how passionate and interactive and profoundly connected fans are to their event. Obviously this differs from event to event based on audience size and type of event (music festival vs. sporting event for example).

Ultimately it’s much more important to choose a business challenge that you want data to solve versus picking an arbitrary metric that may not get to the root of the items you are looking to determine. Once you pick that business challenge, then you can begin to plan out what your data collection and measurement strategy will look like.

Dave Cedrone: It really comes down to the question of where are your buyers coming from? One question that we’ve been working on with more of our festival clients is how many people in their audience are flying to attend their event versus driving, and is that trending upward? Festivals tend to focus their marketing budget around regional audiences but if you see that a significant number of people attending your event are actually coming from outside that local region then it might make sense to broaden the reach of your marketing campaigns and advertising efforts.


XLIVE: Dave – You moderated a panel at XLIVE focused on sponsorship activation strategies for live events. With brands having more options than ever before when it comes to investing their sponsorship budgets, what information do live event organizers need to make sure they are collecting in order for brands to understand what their true ROI is?

Dave: We recommend benchmarking prior to engagement via survey data or brand affinity data. For example, when we worked with JetBlue their goal was to see a lift in the overall percentage of that festival’s share of audience with their brand affinity. Those are important conversations for event organizers and brands to have before an event starts so that everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations.

Data mining is also an important tool for brands and event organizers to utilize. This can be as simple as looking into your event’s social media fans and followers to better understand the affinities that your audience already has for certain brands or what they’re passionate about. For example, if a fan is passionate about lowering carbon emissions then it probably makes sense to steer them towards a Lyft activation that gives festival attendees credits for free rides in exchange for signing up for a canned food donation program. It’s all about knowing your audience.

XLIVE: Umbel has a client roster that includes many of the biggest names in live entertainment so I wanted to finish up by asking if you could shed some light into any interesting trends that you are noticing when having conversations with clients about their data and analytics strategies as they prepare for the upcoming year in live events?

Dave: I’m starting to see that the conversation has shifted from data collection tools and activation strategies in general to ‘now that we have access to all of this data, what are the specific data sets or signals we’ll need in order to more effectively engage and monetize our audiences?’

Our clients have evolved beyond looking at an entire audience of ticket buyers and now they want to know how they can use data to target audiences by proximity to the venue or by number of social media followers within 20 miles of a festival. Once they have a handle on unifying and collecting data, they can start to focus on enriching the existing dataset to squeeze the most value from it.

Kevin: There’s a Macro trend I’m seeing with clients and it’s the necessity of collecting and analyzing data sets across audiences into a more streamlined narrative structure so that they can get a big picture look at how every element of the live event experience connects with each other. For example, that’s being able to link RFID data on how much time an attendee spent a sponsorship activation at a festival to their purchases of a product at a concession or merchandise stand.

What really makes me optimistic about 2017 for our clients is the fact that they are now at the point in their use of data and analytics where they allowing themselves to make better decisions through data instead of merely looking for the answers that they want to find. Data collection can be a rewarding process on its own but it also doesn’t mean much unless our clients are taking that data and using it to continually improve their engagement, retention and monetization strategies moving forward.

This interview originally appeared on XLIVE and has been republished with permission.

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