Study Finds Marketers Want to Experiment With Tech at Events but Don’t Seem to Know How

AgencyEA has some tips for doing it effectively

AgencyEA study found 38 percent of marketers want to increase their experiential spend.
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When it comes to experiential projects and emerging tech, most marketers are curious about their options and want to do more of both this year, but they’re not entirely sure how, according to a new study from brand experience shop AgencyEA.

“All they know is they want tech at their events, but they don’t necessarily know how to use it,” Fergus Rooney, co-founder and CEO of AgencyEA told Adweek. “They use tech for the sake of having tech, which might be the wrong use. … It’s like going to a restaurant with high expectations and the food is kind of flat.”

AgencyEA surveyed 1,000 professionals across Fortune 500 companies and agencies and found 94 percent of respondents think emerging tech has a “positive impact” on an event, but less than 50 percent actually saw success from using it. The survey shows one in three brand-side marketers struggle to prove return on investment or secure a sufficient budget for experiential but that 80 percent of respondents have been able to gain “valuable insights” from data collected at events.

The art of experiential does appear to work for those who’ve mastered it. The study further revealed that 38 percent of respondents touted experiential as “the most successful tactic” in their marketing strategies. Those respondents expect to increase their experiential budget by at least 10 percent within the next 18 months, according to the study.

For marketers still trying to navigate experiential, Rooney suggested, first, that they try putting themselves “in the mindset of the audience” before diving into an experiential project. He noted, “If the guests are getting something useful out of [an event], then they can have a great experience.”

Rooney explained that people don’t want to be bombarded with random experiences that aren’t relevant to the brand or event, no matter how cutting edge they are.

“Limit yourself in terms of what content you’re giving people,” he said.

Becca Lyon, AgencyEA marketing communications manager, told Adweek it’s easiest for marketers to collect data on site—they can conduct qualitative research at events including gauging how well people are reacting to the experiences and engaging with the brand.

“As ad marketers become more comfortable with emerging tech, they will be able to more naturally collect this data,” Lyon noted.

Over the past 20 years, AgencyEA has created and executed events worldwide for brands like Google, Intuit, Clif Bar, Hilton and Boeing.

According to its own internal findings, AgencyEA said, for example, the work it has done for Hilton’s Hampton General Manager’s Conference over the past several years generated a tenfold increase in sponsorship sales from 2014 to 2016 and a 90 percent satisfaction rate among attendees. One of the innovative experiences the shop created for the conference in 2017 was a vending machine that used facial recognition to distribute personalized Hilton merchandise to attendees, once they smiled at it.

Rooney said marketers shouldn’t be “afraid” to experiment. When done right, “experiential allows brands to have a deep connection with their consumers” in a way traditional advertising can’t, he said..

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