‘Virtual events can be more valuable’: How the Media & Publishing Industries’ Online Events Are Adding Value

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The Takeaways

  • For tech publishing companies like VentureBeat, who rely on events for 50% of their revenue, virtual events are still a significant part of the business strategy
  • The online GameBeat Summit 2020 generated more revenue than its in-person version in 2019. This was not only due to a higher profit margin due to lower overhead costs. Sponsorships prices remained consistent with the summit’s original in-person format.
  • Europe’s biggest advertising and marketing show, Dmexco, is going ahead entirely digital on September 23 and 24. Organisers said: “Dmexco @home will provide the digital economy an opportunity to hit the restart button together.”

What Happened:

According to Gina Joseph of GameBeat, while the financial cost of hosting virtual events is lower, the time and labor investment required to make them happen is “actually a lot more work.”

But virtual events seem to be adding value. Going virtual means more diverse attendees and speakers – 40% of GamesBear was international.  Not only did the event generate more revenue than previous in-person iterations, but sponsors also saw a higher return on investment. The summit’s success “proved that virtual events can be more effective and valuable than in-person events,” Joseph said. 

In addition, a virtual format enables tracking of impressions that sponsors made on the audience. In-person events have less tangible ways to estimate the number of people who saw a sponsor’s banner, or the number of conversations that were held at a booth. The virtual format also facilitates sponsors holding one-to-one meetings, and access to Slack channels allows more direct and followed-through communication.

A New Revenue Stream?

“The more a publisher is equipped with insight into their audience and sponsors, the more equipped and able they will be to be responsive and creative in substituting a revenue stream like a live event and turning it into a digital opportunity,” says John Cheney, CEO and Founder of Workbooks, a customer relationship management (CRM) vendor specialising in the media and publishing industry.

If online events continue to add value and generate new revenue streams for businesses in ways that in-person events cannot, they may be here to stay even after the lockdown measures have been lifted.



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