Events are being reshaped to meet changes in audience behaviour.
The past 18 months has exposed opportunities in the ways brands communicate with their audiences. Evolving technology and digital formats offered an immediate solution to connect, and in doing so, generated value in new ways for brands, audiences, and event planners alike.
Overnight, brands had unrivalled access to audiences through digital experiences, including tangible insights and a broader understanding of what they like and how they engage. Planners had proof points around ROI and impact through new data opportunities online. Audiences themselves adopted new priorities and new ways to engage.
As interest in live formats resurfaces, it’s clear that expectations around brand experiences have changed. Brands can’t ignore digital and audiences want more, reflecting a need for authenticity, accessibility and community from their events.
Enter the era of the ‘elevated experience’, where audience-first, blended-format communications journeys support a hero moment: event or experience.
For brands that historically look to tentpole live events – like DMEXCO, Cannes Lions or CES – to generate engagement, this shift in audience needs means designing for a longer communications program and intentional digital integration. It opens new avenues into subscriber activations, exclusive access and reactive communications models that generate value for audiences year-round.
Opportunity 1: Community Building
People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Brands are designing for the return of live, but interweaving virtual elements to generate ongoing value and reward for their event communities. Global events like Cannes Lions have used digital as a platform to curate and galvanise an ‘always-on’ network, ahead of their live programme returning in the next twelve months. What we are seeing is more frequent, targeted communications from brands through a centralised digital hub, and active audience engagement much earlier on.
Opportunity 2: Authenticity & Understanding
The new era of brand experiences will see a much more curated audience journey, with a nuanced understanding of their needs, and events that address those needs directly. Experiences will be driven by audience-first thinking and embrace change, challenge and collaboration.
Businesses that are vocal and true in their approach to community and CSR are engaging audiences on a more human level, as people move to align themselves with brands that reflect their personal values.
Opportunity 3: Accessibility
Brand experiences can and should be accessible to all.
A blended format means designing for wider access and more inclusivity. Digital has opened doors for existing audiences and entirely new ones, with much lower barriers of entry and engagement. Consider younger generations who naturally adopt a digital-first approach, new work/life balances, or people with different abilities or learning styles that can engage with a curated experience online, parallel to what’s happening in a live environment.
As an agency that can deliver multiple communications streams under one roof, the future of brand experiences is incredibly exciting, working alongside our clients to craft an approach that understands new audience behaviour, and puts it at the center of the experience.
—Jules Staveley, Brand Experience Director