Webinars and live streaming were important for B2B marketers before the pandemic. But when COVID-19 forced events and trade shows to cancel, they became even more necessary.
During COVID, we’ve seen:
- LinkedIn release ‘Virtual Events’
- Virtual event solutions see their business go up by 1000%
- Projections of online video change: By 2021 80% of all internet traffic will be video (including web conferencing)
Of the virtual events publishers run, webinars aren’t the most advanced. But they are still a favorite.
As restrictions lift and events come back, will we see the growth of webinars go back to normal levels? We haven’t seen any drop in webinar ads yet.
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Events will come back, but webinars aren’t slowing down
In 2019, our data shows that over 70k companies sponsored and exhibited at an event. Most of those events were cancelled or postponed this year, but many will be coming back in the third quarter.
“I’m very excited to be getting groups back,” said Mark Tester, executive director of the Orange County Convention Center, the second-largest convention site in North America. Its first event, a volleyball tournament with 10,000 people, will take place in July. By the fall, the convention center hopes to have its full schedule back.
Global DMC Partners, the largest global network of independent destination management companies, conducted a meetings and events survey that found that 64 percent of respondents predicted that they will host live events sometime between August 2020 and January 2021.
But even with in-person events possible, professionals will want to reap the benefits of online meetings, webinars and events. The advantages, such as lower costs, no travel and a more targeted focus in webinars, have already been made obvious.
Since the beginning of the year, the number of brands running webinar ads has more than doubled.
We do not see any hint of webinars slowing down.
“It will prove to be more affordable in terms of money and time to (virtually) attend conferences and seminars, and webinars will become a much more consistent part of the mainstream,” explains GO1 Co-founder Vu Tran. Webinars are here to stay — but people do miss the human connection of in-person events.
Is there a middle ground?
Events will take on a hybrid format
It’s likely that COVID-19’s mark on events will be that it makes hybrid events more commonplace.
“Between now and two years from now, we think there will be some bridge strategies,” John Capano, senior vice president of client development at Impact XM. Big events are supposed to come back in the third and fourth quarters, but many will be a fusion between physical and virtual.
This could look like a mix of prerecorded content and live content, plus the ability to direct message speakers, participate in chat rooms and virtual lounges. The main event could be in one location, plus satellite locations to keep attendance lower.
Informa plc, the world’s largest exhibitions firm saw their webinar production triple. Despite the uptick of online events, Rick McConnel, president of North America Informa Markets, believes the future trade show will be a mix of live and online. Combining the two will bring the social element people crave and the programmatic matchmaking elements that make online events highly effective.
While the cancellation of events was a blow to the $1.5 trillion global business, it has made room for creativity. Over the next few years, online and in-person events will be evolving in ways that we wouldn’t have expected just a few months ago.
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