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Technology fosters continued growth

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Ian McGonnigal is senior director of client services worldwide for George P. Johnson, an experience marketing agency. BtoB spoke with McGonnigal about CEIR's recent report on the growth of the event marketing industry and where he sees it headed in the future.

BtoB: Do you feel CEIR's report of 4.8% growth in the industry is an accurate representation?

McGonnigal: We have definitely seen the level of interest in live experiences rising. Marketers are seeing face-to-face interactions move the needle in the sales cycle and elevate the level of audience engagement not possible in other channels.

BtoB: Is there something you can point to that explains the continuing growth of the industry?

McGonnigal: One word: performance. Properly designed and engineered live experiences create almost dramatic brand encounters in which the individual makes a decision whether or not to affiliate with a brand. This is real engagement.

BtoB: What trends do you see continuing?

McGonnigal: The continuing growth of user-generated content will spill over from Web 2.0 to live experiences and will most certainly have an impact in the way a brand is manifested in a face-to-face environment.

Virtual events will play an increasingly important role in event portfolios moving forward. From webcasts, webinars and Web conferences to virtual trade shows and conferences in virtual worlds like Second Life, many marquee brands are experimenting and learning how to operate in this space. While a virtual event can never take the place of, or have the same impact as a face- to-face experience, smart companies will discover and deploy the right mix of virtual tactics in their overall marketing portfolio.

Also, there may be shifts in the overall mix of proprietary and third-party events as more companies measure their event marketing programs. There may also be fundamental changes in traditional "value-added" sponsorship components, with "share of voice" and "thought leadership" vehicles commanding greater value than traditional square footage, depending on the needs of each industry.

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