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New technology, tools boost virtual experience

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Kate Spellman was promoted to president of UBM Studios, the digital and virtual events division of UBM, in March 2011. Media Business: Where are you seeing new developments boost engagement in virtual environments? Kate Spellman: We're seeing it in gamification. What has been interesting is the level of executives who use the gaming. We had an internal meeting in Shanghai, and we shared that (meeting) through all of the divisions. The activity at a senior level was amazing. It gets people engaged, and it is being used as a learning tool. We are also seeing it in “badging” and social media. Last year, you were able to tweet without leaving the platform. Now we are taking social media to the next step, using tools that show the activities that people in the industry are doing—things that you may feel that you should be doing. It's that transparency, seeing where your boss went. Mobile applications in the event space are really exceeding expectations. We rolled out a couple of mobile apps in June, and we jumped to a handful across UBM; and we have 20-plus now and more in the pipeline. Mobile is something to really watch. You can be walking around the show and looking at a keynote, or finding the booths you want to go to or watching content that you missed. MB: Have you had success with a paid-attendance model? Spellman: We've done a few (environments) that are paid for via the attendees, but that is less than what you would normally see. It's hard to get the attendee to pay. They are not used to paying for online or for events. Now if they pay for (in-person) events, it's easier to tie it into (an online) conference fee. (UBM TechWeb's) Blackhat is a good example of that. I've got good content. People will pay a lot of money to go see that content (in-person), and they will pay to see it online. But it's the behavior that you're already used to that is driving so much of that.
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