The digital ad space continues to deal with challenges like competition driving up prices, brand safety issues, fraud, questionable viewability measurement and ad blockers, leading more and more marketers to turn to live events.
Event management platform Bizzabo surveyed more than 1,000 brand marketers for its Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends Report, and it found that 41 percent of them considered event marketing to be their top marketing channel—up 32 percent year-over-year and ahead of content marketing (27 percent), email marketing (14 percent) and social media (6 percent).
However, the event industry is not without its challenges, as Bizzabo co-founder Alon Alroy said, “The event industry is growing, but the upshot is that it’s also becoming more crowded. To stand out, businesses need to be better organized, provide better attendee experiences and move the needle in ways that their competitors are not.”
So the company surveyed marketers at companies including Amazon, General Mills, KPMG, AppNexus, Digiday and Porsche to determine how they intend to approach live events in 2019 and beyond.
Alroy cautioned against focusing on huge conferences, saying in an interview that his company helps manage anything from VIP dinners for 50 people to confabs with 10,000 attendees.
The company found that 62 percent of respondents plan to increase their budget for live events in 2019, by an average of 22 percent, adding that it saw a 39 percent rise in the number of organizations that planned to spend at least 20 percent of their marketing budgets on live events next year.
Software and services companies that were part of the study spent a total of $182.4 million on live events in 2018, while commercial and professional services companies spent $89 million and media companies shelled out $73 million.
Alroy said advances in analytics and measurement technology have enabled brands to more accurately and seamlessly determine the value of live events to their businesses by integrating event management software with other tools used in their organizations.
As a result, Bizzabo found that 85 percent of respondents believe live events played a major role in their companies successfully meeting their business goals, and 77 percent believe events will be increasingly important to the success of their brands in the coming years.
Bizzabo also found that 89 percent of overperforming businesses put a high value on live events, with 84 percent of them saying that they have strong support from leadership when it comes to event marketing.
The company singled out three sectors: Software and services, where 92 percent of overperforming businesses believe live events are instrumental to their success and 82 percent have strong support from leadership; media, at 81 percent and 86 percent, respectively; and commercial and professional services, at 90 percent and 75 percent, respectively.
In the case of media, Alroy said publishers are investing more in events because algorithm changes and other moves by digital giants such as Facebook and Google have hurt their digital revenue.
Bizzabo also examined what brands in those sectors are looking to get out of live events, saying that most media companies are aiming for revenue generation from ticket sales, while companies in the software and services businesses are using events to help accelerate lead generation and sales.
“Relationships between brands and their consumers, mainly among millennials, are becoming critical,” Alroy said. “You have a captive audience and an opportunity to really get face time and create memorable moments that are very challenging to achieve these days over digital. The future lies in personalizing the digital experience, whether for people attending or watching remotely.”