Thanks to a year on the Corona-coaster, brands and rightsholders have been reverting to virtual experiences as a plan B for fans and customer hosting. But what if your Plan B could become your plan A?
We have been creating live virtual experiences for our clients since 2016, as a means of connecting people globally. However we could never have anticipated the phenomenon of the past 12 months. One that has boomed out of necessity, rather than choice.
Our data shows that people across all generations are spending more time on devices than ever before. 8 in 10 consumers in the UK / US have attended at least one virtual event since lockdown.
But after a year of lockdown, Zoom fatigue is very real! Fans don’t want to just sit there passively staring at a screen, they want to actively participate in the virtual events they attend. So we need to inspire our audiences with new experiences.
Through augmentation, digital experiences offer us the opportunity to let our audiences see more than they can in real life. Virtual garage tours, live Q&A’s with sports stars and gamification can take fans to places previously not possible. There has been a proliferation of digital platforms recently, that can help us deliver the interactivity that fans so desperately want at a more affordable price point.
Digital and virtual experiences provide the opportunity for brands to extend their storytelling window pre and post any live event, using a variety of interactive and augmented digital invitations, podcasts or even gamification. And they enable brands to let more people in – there is no limit on tickets or seats – so the result is much wider reach, and with the added benefit of enhanced analytics.
Standardised digital tools can also be built for these experiences and deployed to markets. This enables countries to engage more customers and fans at a local level – and these experiences need not be limited by sports calendars nor date constraints.
On a sustainable front, we need to look at our events through a new lens. Engaging our audiences digitally demonstrates a brand’s commitment to low carbon solutions. This will be particularly relevant for B2B professionals. Gone are the days of senior executives amassing billions of air-miles in the name of business. But we know from our data, decision-makers gravitate toward brands with human connections – so ‘real life’ virtual experiences are the solution.
Virtual events came to the surface out of necessity, but they are already making a long-lasting impact on our industry. One of the traditional barriers to investment in experiential vs media is the lack of scale, but virtual events offer a way of overcoming that. We don’t see virtual events endangering real-life ones or in any way substituting them in the future. We see them as a great opportunity to deliver a hybrid solution; a new Plan A for fans, customers, brands and rights holders.
Data: GWI 2020