Experiential Review of 2016 and Onward

15 Nov


According to the IPA Q3 Bellwether report, events marketing spend recorded a 9.9% increase, the second highest in four years behind Q2 2016. With this increase in spend comes bigger and better events sporting new and exciting trends. In this article we’re going to conduct an ‘experiential review’ of the trends that have come to prominence this year, as well as those to look out for in the future. It is important to acknowledge that many of these trends tie in with each other and it is therefore testament to their ingenuity that they deserve mention in their own right.



Experiential Trends 


We begin our experiential review by first looking at those trends which have risen to prominence in 2016:


Holistic engagement with the consumer

“the average customer journey before a decision is made is between 9 and 16 interactions with a brand on different channels”

1 Karla Straker Cara Wrigley Michael Rosemann , (2015),”Typologies and touchpoints: designing multichannel digital strategies”, Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 9 Iss 2 pp. 110 – 128

With this in mind, there has been a rise in the holistic approach to engaging attendees pre, during and post events, delivering engaging content through social media, direct emails, virtual reality, event apps and face-to-face interactions to name a few. Innovations in mobile technologies to give attendees second screen experiences to augment the physical content of the event have become popular, allowing mobile devices to improve the experiences rather than distract from it.

This compliments the overall shift from physical content, leaflets, brochures etc. to digital with the use of apps and smart badges, aiding sustainability, but also allowing brands to tightly focus their content delivery through data and demographic analysis.



Transfer of knowledge based experiences


2016 has also seen a rise in learning-based events. With the increase in available information attendees are always looking to extract the most value possible from events. Consumers want to learn how to make their favourite cocktails, recipes or in the B2B world, tips to improve their content marketing strategies, with many guest speakers opting for longer Q&A sessions over lengthy speeches.

Here’s ‘The Grand Journey’ by Bombay Sapphire, an experience which celebrated cocktails and their countries of origin:




Better “Event Tech” Has Led to Greater Intelligence


In our experiential review of the year, we found there has been an increase in the importance given to big data, this comes as a by-product of advancing event technologies. Event marketers are now able to collect specific data on attendees via technologies such as apps, beacons and smart badges, enabling them to see important trends like dwell times, stand preferences based on demographics and attendance figures for performances.

This ‘big data’ gives organisers greater insight into where they are successful, as well as where they are not in an unprecedented level of detail, making the real issue of WHY much easier to solve, therefore facilitating the production of data-driven content.

In B2B, feedback can now be registered with the push of a button, whilst beacons can be used to push content to consumers who meet specific criteria, on the other hand, in B2B organisers record mountains of data about their attendees which creates value in itself, as exhibitors will happily pay for these insights.

Here it is in action for Poken:




Proximity-Based Technology


All three of these technologies are gaining prominence, particularly in the fields of B2B conferences and roadshows. When integrated with a conference app, messages can be pushed to attendees based on their proximity to specific beacons, allowing marketers to deliver targeted content to complement their experience.

Couple this with smart badges, light-weight devices, often attached to lanyards, that allow attendees to passively exchange information with beacons during an event, and the rise in ‘big data’ and marketers now have the ability to deliver more accurate content based on demographic, industry and preferences, which leads to greater engagement. These technologies also allow seem-less networking capabilities when combined with social media & event-specific apps.

Here’s an example of beacons in action via Locly:






The use of live video at events has skyrocketed this year, with big players like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all buying in, along with new entrants like Periscope.

As a trend it is significant as it allows events to deliver at least a portion of the live experience to consumers who were unable to attend, which is popular, Twitter averaged 243,000 viewers on its first ever NFL live-stream (and it was between the Jets & Bills!):



Additionally, live-streams produce great content for marketing, as well as providing valuable consumer data on a much larger scale than events possibly could. However, with it, 2016  has brought an even higher focus of quality, with:

“60% of viewers saying a poor online video experience would dissuade them from engaging with a brand across all of its social media platforms.”


 It is therefore important to acknowledge, that just having a live-video experience is not sufficient to reap the rewards, incorporating touches like polls and competitions help keep consumers engaged and active.





In anticipation for 2016, Eventbrite wrote:

“There will be a lot of activity with food, tech, events and social media personalities and brands next year.”

Now 2016 has come to pass we can see that they were right, influencer marketing has become one of the hot topics, with big brands worldwide bringing in influencers in order to leverage access to their communities: Adidas’ Jump With D Rose,  Gap’s Styld.by and most recently Infinity Ward’s use of Michael Phelps and Danny McBride to advertise the latest Call Of Duty installment:



We can see in this trend graph that influencer marketing has progressively risen in popularity since 2014, influencer marketing is blue with orange and red being video and print advertising respectively. In addition to this, “92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.”



It is then apparent, that influencer marketing is living up to the hype and presents a legitimate opportunity to increase a brand’s reach. It is also worth noting that the terms influencer and celebrity are not synonymous, making this form of marketing accessible to brands which aren’t multinational corporations.

Here we see the Ideal Home Show using contestants from the Great British Bake-Off to leverage the show’s popularity in their favour:






This ties in with influencer marketing, for obvious reasons, however, in our experiential review of 2016, collaboration with attendees and consumers has also risen to prominence. This comes through the co-creation of content, for example the video and photo content produced by attendees at an event is valuable for the same reasons as it is for influencers. Whilst your attendees will have a smaller sphere of influence, there’s more of them, a lot more!

Creating these brand evangelists, who disperse your brand’s “positive propaganda”  through testimonials and interesting content, is vital for brands, as we live in an age of suspicion, where claims are easily verified or de-bunked with a simple Google search. So commonplace is this practice, that “Google” is now a verb as a result.

A study by the McCarthy Group found that 84% of millennials surveyed distrust traditional forms of advertising. The important take-away from this trend is that brands must strive to deliver the most valuable experiences in order to spark the consumer’s desire to co-create content for them.



Trends for the future


Now we have looked at the current state of play, we must turn our experiential review to the trends of 2017 and potentially beyond:



Shared VR


We’ve purposefully avoided including VR on this list, as we have an article which covers the subject in depth here. However, it is important to acknowledge shared VR as a forthcoming trend, not only at the events themselves, but also in the planning phase before the event.

Shared VR through tools like the Microsoft HoloLens and Google Cardboard allows event planners to collaborate throughout the entire planning process without the hassle of constant meetings, streamlining the process massively as seen here:



In addition to this shared VR has the ability to provide truly engaging experiences made more so by the fact that attendees can enjoy them with a friend, expect to hear a lot more on shared VR in the near future!




Green events/sustainability


In 2016 sustainability and care for the environment have been rife in the media, with the release of Leonardo Di Caprio’s “Before The Flood” and Portugal’s 4 day stint on solely renewable energy to name but a few examples. This care for the environment has become almost fashionable, and therefore companies which are seen to be “Green” are placed on a social pedestal, higher than those which are not.

Moving forward there will be an increasing number of events organisers seeking to become certified by environmental standards such as BS 8901  and ISO 20121 in order to stay relevant in the eyes of consumers.




Smarter referral tools on social media


Currently, much of what is posted to social media goes largely unseen, you can expect 2.6% organic reach from your posts on Facebook and whilst Twitter fluctuates, 5% is enviable. Factor in Facebook’s curated news feed and getting your promotional events content seen can be a serious task. It is this difficulty which sparks the next trend for the future, smarter referral tools on social media.

Currently, private messages seem robotic and invasive,  the same is true of wall posts and tweets, notifications are easily ignored (and ignored they are!) and organic posts are often missed. By creating smarter tools for referral, event organisers will be able to distribute highly targeted content to prospective and confirmed attendees and consumers through a dedicated channel which won’t get lost in the waves of cute dogs and bizarre music videos.






Snapchat as a marketing channel and a social network has risen in popularity in 2016, according to CIO Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said, “its users now view 8 billion videos a day, which is a five fold increase from a year ago”, whilst according to hubspot, “they’ve become an established media platform valued at over $16 billion and with over 100 million users.”

The takeaway for event marketers? It is important to recognise Snapchat’s strengths and exploit them, the private communication channel it provides allows brands to tailor content to each user’s preferences, for example a running list of activities at your upcoming event. The dedicated user base, plus the exclusively short window to view the message and the FOMO (fear of missing out) attached, means that your message will be seen, whilst returning data about who watched and who replayed your content. Finally, Snapchat’s geofilters provide the opportunity to brand attendees snaps at a relatively inexpensive cost.



Rounding off our experiential review

All in all, each year the boundaries of what is possible are pushed back by creative minds and innovative technologies, I for one am looking forward to conducting an experiential review of 2017 and I hope to see you there!


featured image source


If you’re looking to run an experiential campaign and need staff, contact us today, we’d love to help!