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Thanks to the imperfect storm of new technology and COVID-19 leading to our forced introduction to virtual events in 2020, pivoting to a hybrid event isn’t the mountain it used to be.
Analogically speaking, you have a map and the right equipment but you still need to plan your route to the top.
Recent events have given organisers a much better understanding of what it takes to reach and entertain an online audience. Through this, it’s become easier to introduce a virtual element to increase your audience, international profile and revenue.
The only slight concern is that many of us are yet to see a real-life example of the hybrid format in action. To guide your own experience, our team has picked five examples that struck a chord with their audience.
1. Apple Special Events
When we think of outliers and trailblazers, we tend to think of Apple. For years it’s been possible to live stream announcements and unveilings for products like the iPad and iPhone, giving us the chance to enjoy the same news delivered to journalists and VIPs at the venue.
Why we liked it: Global brands and events now have the technology to overhaul their PR strategies for good. Even social media – a relatively new phenomenon – can barely touch the speed at which news can be delivered through an online stream. Apple has shown the power of hybrid when it comes to making those big announcements. We should also reserve a mention for Apple’s sky-high production quality, which was certainly evident in its September Event from 2019.
2. Moz Con
One of our favourite hybrid examples from the B2B world is Moz Con: a digital marketing conference that records all of the sessions taking place at its physical venue.
Given the range of topics and disciplines that Moz needs to cover, it’s important that its audience can access the latest trends across SEO, digital marketing, content and more. Having all of the sessions available post-event helps these delegates absorb the key learnings at their own pace.
What we liked: Moz Con’s digital passes are much cheaper than tickets for its in-person event. It’s a content-based experience and one that doesn’t offer too much aside from the viewing of sessions. However, this very much works in the favour of the organisers, who can treat the audiences as separate, and the attendees, who can enjoy Moz Con at a discounted rate. That’s a win-win!
TwitchCon is marketed as “an IRL party” for the Twitch community. For those that don’t know, Twitch is an online streaming service for gamers and content producers. Every year, it hosts a special conference – usually in San Diego – that brings in thousands of fans from across the world.
Due to its core business and audience, it would be pretty strange if TwitchCon didn’t have a live streaming element. Thankfully, it does. In 2019, online viewers could soak up the action from the event floor as online performances from Blink-182 and Madeon capped off hours of panel sessions, tournaments and plenty more.
What we liked: We can’t ignore that Twitch is bringing a live stream out to an audience of live streamers on its very own streaming platform. (There are head starts and there are head starts.) That said, we love the idea of attendees spreading the word by being invited to capture and co-stream anything featured on its event portal. Some organisers need to ringfence their content due to the value associated with it – we understand that. For TwitchCon, it’s about giving attendees the freedom to share and commentate on the action. What a way to expand your audience!
4. Riot Games League of Legends Tournaments
The next time someone doubts the scale that hybrid events can achieve, try pointing them in the direction of Riot Games and its annual League of Legends World Championship.
In 2019, the final round took place in front of 15,000 fans at the AccroHotels Arena in Paris, France. More impressive still is the fact it brought in more than 100 million viewers with a peak of 44 million watching concurrently.
What we liked: Broadcasting is no easy feat for Riot Games, which has spoken openly about the issues attached to beaming its content out to millions of viewers. It’s why the event can only happen at venues with the required standards of connectivity and infrastructure. Nevertheless, the coverage is always on point. We’re also impressed by how Riot Games monetises its events through the backing of sponsors like Bose, Cisco and Spotify – ideal for paying for all of those cables.
5. UEG Week
Think hybrid events are a new thing? Think again. In 2016, UEG Week, one of the world’s most prestigious gastroenterology meetings, merged digital with physical to expand its audience.
All of the sessions were streamed live from the Austria Center Vienna, including a real-life endoscopic procedure, but some of the more innovative aspects came with the interactive features available to on-site and online attendees. These included special access to independent research, presented through an e-poster lounge at the venue and via the online platform.
What we liked: When it came to the experience, UEG showed genuine care for online attendees by putting them on a level playing field with the in-person audience. All 13,000 participants had access to the same content and learning materials at a point when virtual was only just getting started. If they could do it then, you can certainly do it now.
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