As COVID-19 lockdown restricts in-person events, organisers take the digital route

Experts say that the virtual event industry is a new emerging market with untapped potential

e4m by Sanstuti Nath
Published: Apr 7, 2020 8:52 AM  | 4 min read
Virtual Events

With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting in-person meetings, the event ecosystem is exposed to billions of dollars n losses. But, as life gets going, organisers are quickly adapting to the change and we see a new trend of virtual events emerging.

From Neilsen Holdings doing a virtual media conference to present a report on consumer behaviour during COVID-19 lockdown, to Bacardi bringing NH7 Weekender to your home with a series of online music festivals, digital events are becoming the new normal.

Experts say that there is a high demand for an online event ecosystem. They also believe that, by creating channels for monetization, the emerging industry has a potential for a wider audience base and larger profit margins.

Ticketing portal BookMyShow has launched virtual live properties such as ‘Live From HQ’ and ‘#LiveInYourLiving Room’ in partnership with Big Bad Wolf Entertainment, to connect artists across genres with consumers in the safety of their homes.

Talking about the new offerings, Albert Almeida, COO - Live Entertainment, BookMyShow said, “These are extremely challenging times, and we at BookMyShow are happy to be able to provide users, a pleasant respite and a spot of safe and uncompromised in-home entertainment in this time of lockdown.”

He added, “In less than a week of hosting these experiences, thousands of users across India have enjoyed the performances of several artists including Prateek Kuhad, Indian Ocean, Karan Singh Magic, Vir Das, Ankur Tewari amongst others.”

Almeida also told e4m that audience response shows that there a high demand for such offerings. “While it is too early to comment on monetisation and revenue potential for such experiences, early signs do tell us that there is a vast audience demand across the country for such content offerings during this challenging time. How this pans out over the long term is a function of how consumer behaviour evolves as the situation progresses. We are in talks with several content creators for similar safe and uncompromised entertainment experiences that we can offer consumers during this national lockdown”, he said.

Taking Almeida's point forward, Atul Todi, CEO & Co-founder, 10Times said, “Virtual has come to a point where video broadcasting has improved drastically. For the youth, which is growing up in a Snapchat generation, it's normal. For generations above them, it is becoming a new reality. Events are quickly adopting the idea that a virtual conference is not too far from physically meeting.” 10Times is one of the world’s largest aggregator of business events.

Todi further explained how the virtual events can be monetised and revenue can be generated through then. He said, “At any event, advertiser's main concern is the audience, from both strength and relevance purpose. And, there is no better way to track audience than online. During a digital event, you have complete data of the touchpoints, from the point of user registration to the post-event. If we are organizing a 1000 people when, and we put the sponsor in each touchpoint, right from e-mail, to every banner, notification and as a ticker on screen, we create nX1000 impressions for the advertiser.” He added that there are multiple ways of creating advertising opportunities for an online event.

Talking about the change in revenue model, Todi said, “There will surely be a drastic drop in the usual revenue model, but the profit margins will get better. Advertisers won’t pay as much as they pay for the physical event. But the cost of organising the event is also reduced.”

Adding to Todi's point, Prashant Puri, co-founder and CEO of Adlift said, “this is the new model of event organisation, which lots of people will start to adapt, post the normalcy returns. When without geographical constraints, organisers would want to add a virtual feature for their on-ground event.”

Explaining the new revenue model, Puri said, “Supposedly, earlier if the advertiser was putting 100 bucks in event, now he’ll reduce the sponsorship to 40 bucks. But, when an on-ground event is organised, 80 per cent of the sponsor fee went into the organisation, right from the venue to transportation, leaving around 20 per cent profit margin. Now in virtual space, only 10 bucks will go into organising and rest 30 will be saved. Therefore, the revenue margins will increase, but the overall revenue will be reduced.”

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