Events have always been a melting pot of disciplines, faith, knowledge and entertainment — and we have been attending them from time immemorial. Audiences love events. Brands love events as they bring together a very carefully segmented audience who is adaptive to its messaging. The challenge for brands is to be able to garner audience attention and not appear as a hindrance between the audience and the content.
Events have fast adapted technology. Some of the major thrust areas now include being mobile-first, which is an integral part of human engagement; the mobile phone plays a very important role in a user’s experience within events.
‘Niche’ is the new black for events. From events focussed on smaller, niche audiences to sub-events or tracks focussed on select attendees to smaller sessions and audience sizes, micro-focussed events will start gaining more momentum. Emotional intelligence too will play a key role, allowing event organisers to cater to emotional and psychological needs of each attendee.
Creating a tangible, RoI-driven brand integration is the key. Innovations in brand engagement are the core of an event as 40-50% of the total event revenue is driven by sponsors. While last year saw some sub-optimal use of sponsor branding — Jio at the Justin Bieber concert, Venky’s and UPL at the Coldplay concert, etc — a lot of interesting engagements have been created such as the Vodafone SuperFan campaign around IPL, etc.
Globally, this is a great space that has witnessed some fantastic associations.
For example, Rolex was one of the first TED partners to create original branded content specific to the platform — a three-minute video that highlighted its history of design and innovation and the brand has now launched an app to help a user figure out the best TED talk to view. Although Super Bowl faces the same challenge as the IPL (league sponsors versus airtime sponsors) and there is always an arm twisting battle which happens where guerrilla marketing comes to its peak on cross-category promotions — a dedicated half time show sponsorship by Pepsi garners significant traction for the cola brand as a part of overall event flow; something that bigger events in India have not been able to give sponsors.
A new big area which will emerge is in-event engagement, which is missing right now, through mobile apps. For sponsors, it is an effective way to reach audiences directly — inside a live event — and engage with them. It could make the audience extremely engaged with the brand without it spending thousands of dollars plastering its name within the event premises.
Hitesh Gossain is CEO at Onspon.com