Digital Monetization – An Untapped Goldmine for Eventprofs

This is a sponsored post written by Aidan Augustin, President of Feathr. More information about Event Manager Blog’s sponsored posts.

Now imagine how you feel. Proud. Happy. Relieved.

It’s the most stress-free moment you’ve had in months – and you’re taking it all in.

All of a sudden you get an urge of screen compulsion and check your email. You see an email from a sponsor with a subject line that reads “ASAP” from 6 hours ago.

As soon as you read the first couple of lines, your gut clenches up.

“Jackie, I really hope this isn’t too late – I need to get in front of your audience another time before the event wraps up. Are there any sponsorships left over? I have $30K to spend. Let me know, thanks.”

You shed a silent tear because you just missed out on $30,000 :’(

Now, reading this I know you’re thinking to yourself, “I would never do that. I’m way tighter with my sponsors and more responsive with my communication.” But what if I told you that nearly every event organizer is missing out on massive revenue?

It’s the truth. And even though the truth sometimes hurts, you have to accept it to improve.

Let me explain.

You have a huge asset you may simply be ignoring

Think about it like this. What is the one indispensable asset you have as an event organizer?

Your audience. And for the most part you’re pretty good at leveraging that asset – during the few days of your event.

You sell square footage to exhibitors, and various on-site sponsorships to sponsors.

But after all of the hard work to promote your event, acquire attendees, and plan and execute the event, why only monetize it for just a few days?

“Well we only have access to them at the event venue. So, how else can we monetize our audience?”

Glad you asked. The answer is: digitally.

Your Digital Audience – The Hidden Goldmine

Would you be surprised to learn that digital efforts account for nearly 50% of B2B marketing budgets today? Pretty significant.

Now listen to this. Less than 2% of exhibition industry revenue comes from digital sources.

That’s a huge gap.

Even the most sophisticated organizers treat their digital assets as an afterthought. Maybe they try to get a sponsor for their mobile app or bundle website banners and sponsored email blasts into higher-tier packages.

The industry is trying, we just haven’t gotten very far yet.

But The Time Has Come!

Independent data sets from Statista, ITSMA and Regalix estimate that half of all marketing dollars (not just B2B) will be spent on digital channels in 2016.

Your exhibitors and sponsors are also on that uptrend, with rapidly growing digital marketing budgets and mandates to spend it.

The good news is that you have existing relationships, respected brands, and the exact audience they are trying to reach. Why not also monetize that audience digitally?

How To Get Started

When it comes to digital monetization, there are nearly endless options. Where should you start? The good news for you is that we’ve already done the legwork of figuring out which digital efforts tend to work the best for event organizers.

In our time powering 150+ events from customers like Reed, Clarion, and UBM, we’ve landed on a couple of core digital efforts that, in most cases, work like a charm.

Audience Segmentation and Retargeting

Picture this situation. You’re looking to buy a pair of shoes. So you go online, search around, and land on a site with a pair that you’re pretty sure are what you want.

You decide you need a little time to think about it so you leave the site. Then you go to Facebook and what do you see in your timeline? Those same shoes! What’s going on?

You’ve just been retargeted 🙂

Retargeting reaches a particular website’s visitors with ads on other websites. It’s a super-effective form of advertising because only people who have previously shown affinity for your brand (because of visiting your site) are being shown ads.

Retargeting has been around for quite some time but we’ve seen that few event organizers use it. And the ones that do are just doing basic retargeting – blanketing everyone that visits their site with ads until the end of time.

There’s a better way, and it involves segmentation.

Wouldn’t it be great to have your digital audience split up into buckets? Buckets like:

  • Registered attendees
  • Registered exhibitors
  • Non-registered attendee prospects
  • Non-registered exhibitor prospects
  • Publication audience (if applicable)
  • and many, many more depending on your needs

That’s exactly what you should do. Retargeting platforms usually give you some visitor segmentation tools that allow you to do this based on URL. Then you can target those segments with different ad campaigns to optimize performance.

Pro Tip: Make a segment for Registration Abandonment. When a visitor begins the registration process for your event but doesn’t complete it, they’ve “abandoned registration”.

People who do this are super-high value prospects. Not only have they visited your site but they’ve begun to register for your event. They can and should be targeted with particular campaigns that are designed to bring them back and complete registration.

Set this up by:

  • Including visitors who visit the URL of the first page of your registration flow.
  • Excluding visitors who visit the URL of the registration confirmation page.

Digital Sponsorships

Your sponsors are paying you big money to get in front of your audience during your event. With digital sponsorships, you can get your sponsors in front of your audience digitally – and make some nice new sponsor revenue along the way.

This is also starting to happen in our space. Events are selling ads on their websites, mobile app placements, etc.

But there’s a problem. Attendees stop visiting those properties after the event is over. So at best sponsors are getting incremental exposure during the few days of the event.

Your sponsors are not getting the pre, post, and year-round exposure that they’re after and you aren’t getting the pre, post, and year-round revenue that you’re after.

So what’s a way to give your sponsors digital exposure to your audience throughout the year? How about via retargeting? What if your sponsors could show ads to your audience on websites they do continue to visit year-round, like Facebook, the New York Times, etc.

In the same way that you capture and retarget your audience on your behalf – you can do the same thing on behalf of your sponsors. The basic process looks like this:

  • Use the same tool that you use run your own retargeting campaigns to run campaigns on behalf of your sponsors.
  • After you close a sale for this kind of sponsorship, request the creatives (ads) from your sponsors so that you can upload them to use within your retargeting tool.
  • Track the impression count of the sponsored campaign (if you’ve sold a package of impressions) and disable the campaign after you’ve hit the target.

Customers of ours like Reed Exhibitions are having massive success with this particular strategy, creating sales materials and training their sales teams to sell this particular kind of digital sponsorship at as much as a 15x markup on the cost to fulfill the campaign.

As mentioned above, we suggest selling pre and post event exposure packages by impression count.

In Conclusion

Our message is simple. Don’t let digital revenues be an afterthought anymore. You have the most valuable asset of all, a captive and engaged audience.

Now it’s on you to capture, engage, and monetize that audience digitally.