Virtual events are becoming essential for media companies, whether the conferences are online-only or a supplement to an offline event. One reason such events are making more sense, Rouda said, is that the economic downturn has led to cuts in travel budgets.
“Everyone is trying them, and many people are succeeding,” he said.
Media companies are now extending the length of online events, allowing visitors to access the content 24/7 for an indefinite period of time and enabling marketers to gather more high-quality leads. Virtual events also offer publishers and marketers extensive information about attendees' activity, offering insight into, for example, their budgets, the videos they viewed and the documents they downloaded.
“The reason we're very much interested in virtual events is that the next step of advertising is really around engagement,” Roman said, “and virtual events are about engagement. You can measure how much you're engaging people and give people the flexibility not to leave their office.”
The key to success with such events isn't necessarily the right technology, Shibles said; it's having superior content. “Virtual events are helpful not because they're virtual events, but because people like to get a boatload of content and be able to find potential business partners,” he said.
But, he added, publishers must provide content that is better than just a PowerPoint presentation. “You've got to bring something else to the table in order to differentiate yourself,” he said. “You're battling for people's attention.” M