In Blog Form

March 20, 2020
Event Technology
by
Ben Myers

How Virtual Events Create A Revolutionary Revenue Opportunity

The time has come for the events industry to change how conferences, summits and trade shows deliver value to audiences. 

The impact of travel restrictions and remote working will continue for months and years to come. While in-person events may resume a normal schedule after some time, audience expectations will have fundamentally changed during this time of uncertainty.

Virtual events and live streaming put the content of your event into an accessible and widely scalable format.

These solutions follow a pattern of location-agnostic online content delivery that has revolutionized the film and TV industries, video gaming, social networking and many more. 

The success of this format cannot be overstated: Netflix (2019 revenue ~$20-billion), YouTube ($15-billion) and Twitch (projected $300-million) dominate the live-streaming world with a combination of subscription-based and advertising-based models.

Audiences have become accustomed to consuming content through a variety of screens and paying for access.

While your event may not have a multi-million dollar production budget, it’s safe to say that audiences have become accustomed to consuming content through a variety of screens and paying for access to high-quality entertainment and information.

While how a virtual event is priced is ultimately up to event organizers, a new revenue model requires new thinking.

Pricing Your Virtual Event For Success

While some event organizers are concerned about the prospect of losing revenue from a shift to live video streaming or a virtual event format, a holistic view of ticket and sponsorship revenue can reveal several new opportunities.

It’s a whole new world when it comes to ticket revenue from live streaming. While some consumer events offer free streams as a means of product promotion, it’s important to remember that the value your audience receives whether online or in-person hasn’t changed.

The online learning sector was worth more than $100-million in 2015 and is expected to triple by 2025. There's no reason why your virtual event can't deliver the same kind of value.

Don't Discount Your Content

Don’t assume you need to drop the price of access to content dramatically. Your attendee is saving on travel, hotels and ancillary costs. What they ultimately want and are prepared to pay for is the educational content that your event is offering.

Maintain a profit margin that takes into account revenue goals and reflects any cost savings.

Maintain a profit margin that takes into account revenue goals and reflects any cost savings that your event may have by hosting fewer people in-person. For instance, food, drinks, swag and room rental costs can all be reduced. Passing on those cost savings will be seen as a fair benefit for virtual attendees.

The notion that an event stream should be free comes from a consumer (or B2C) and technology show perspective, where the purpose of the on-stage component is to promote products, not deliver educational or career-focused content.

Even in these cases, like TwitchCon or CES, sold-out paid audiences are only eclipsed by the number of people who fit a portion of the event into their schedule by streaming.

For instance, the 2016 TwitchCon had 35,000 people in attendance and more than 2.2 million people watching at some point via live stream.

Added Revenue Opportunities Of Capturing Live Streams

Your library of captured streams may not be so different from Netflix after a fullevent.

The fact that you’re now capturing the educational value being created at your event opens new revenue opportunities for both in-person attendees and your online audience.

Not unlike Netflix, your organization now has a library of content that’s accessible to anyone. Leveraging this content to generate revenue can increase margins for in-person attendees as an added subscription or this content can be part of a year-round revenue effort for your company.

Imagine new revenue arriving daily, outside the normal promotional cycle for your event, with little additional legwork outside of promotion.

The New Sponsorship Opportunity

Sponsored content can now be seen in your live feed as well as in captured streams.

Live streaming and virtual events offer event sponsors something that many of them have never had access to before: a branded content opportunity, with the humanity and spontaneity of live video, that could live on for many years.

The sponsor-package paradigm associated with in-person events is strong: lanyards, coffee breaks, sponsored speaking opportunities and drink tickets are all familiar territory for event sponsors. However, these opportunities only exist in a particular time and space.

In addition to the event live stream, sponsorship opportunities now extend to any time your content is viewed with your Netflix-like library of content and speaker sessions.

Sponsors should expect their logo and value proposition to be seen and heard throughout the year. Event organizers’ sponsorship packages and pricing can reflect a continuous promotional schedule and continuous interactions with your audience.

The Opportunity Ahead

The work and life disruptions of 2020 have put into stark focus the situation that is rapidly approaching the events industry.

While in-person events undoubtedly fill a need for people and businesses to develop relationship, live video streaming and video events offer a flexible way to reach a global audience and generate ongoing revenue.

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