Friday, July 16, 2010

New Study: Digital Dazzle Won't Last Without Results

Virtual media is being quickly adopted by event marketers, a new Center for Exhibition Research (CEIR) study indicates. But the measurement of investment results is lagging in virtual and other types of Digital media the study finds.
 The Digital + Exhibit Marketing study to be released next week was previewed by Kurt Miller, of George P. Johnson, at the recent TS2/IAEE show in Boston. The findings are based on an online survey, now in its second year, of show producers, corporate marketers and advertisers.

Over half, (61%) of respondents are now using virtual events (webinars, live webcasts, web conferencing, events in virtual worlds and virtual tradeshows) to compliment live events vs. 36% of what Miller described as a similar sample just one year ago. More broadly, a growing majority, (78%) have faith that digital marketing (especially email) increases the effectiveness of exhibition promotion. But large portions (69% in the case of online social media) have no means to measure the impact of their digital investments.

The talent hunt is on” for people who can create and execute digital strategy, says Miller, “Digital strategy has emerged as a valuable discipline among exhibit marketers.” 27% of respondents have digital marketing experts within their event marketing functions and 44% report the intention to build up their internal digital capacity within event marketing.

Digital media incorporates a long list of formats and actions in the study's digital taxonomy of which virtual media has to be relatively small part. In addition to virtual, the list includes:
  • Email,
  • Online banner and search advertising
  • Audio downloads
  • Webcasts
  • Online video
  • Online games
  • Websites and microsites
  • Social media sites
  • RSS
  • SMS/MMS mobility
  • Web based event management
  • Blogs
  • Google adwords
The drive to digital media is unsustainable without better measurement according to Miller. Event marketers are going to have to see and gage tangible results to keep up the pace of adoption.

Measurement isn’t much of a battle cry but we can all get behind a push for results. The incorporation of digital media into event operations reinforces event marketing’s focus on communication results. Event people, as Miller notes, tend to be production oriented. But now, new kinds of talent are required on event teams to get the communication jobs done.

The study is good news for those of us who don’t intrinsically love event details and deadlines anymore that we love the bits and bytes and endless complications of digital media. What we love is what the media can accomplish. We look at media choices as means to an end - getting good information to the right people.

As media utilitarians, we favor all forms of communication that work.

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