On January 26, 2016 Dark Reading had its first editorial Virtual Event since 2013, and I'm here to tell you this one was awesome.
From 2008-2013, UBM produced many virtual events that had excellent presentations, thoughtfully developed by our editorial teams. But the truth was we had far too many virtual events on our calendar – at one point, we had two per month for our technology brands alone.
Virtual Events are large-scale productions and just not meant to be churned out over and over again, built anew each time. The model and platform we used then wasn't agile or scalable, our calendar was overloaded, our audience was exhausted, and sponsors weren't happy with engagement levels. So we stopped doing them.
Then, in 2014-2015 our technology brands’ marketing team made some significant changes to their lead generation model and product mix to create a healthier business. In the wake of that, the business leaders brought back the idea of a virtual event product, largely due to client interest and our renewed experience with custom virtual events for individual clients. We worked on the product and process to reinvent the model and better align this what we know makes a successful virtual event - the editorial content, client experience, a top notch platform, and a more efficient workflow.
In addition to the change in lead generation model, here’s why this virtual event is different:
- Editorial Content:The main goal is to bring value to the customers and audience, by strongly aligning editorial content to best serve the audience. The keynotes and panels are editorially driven and the virtual booths (now known as zones) are organized by editorial topic, not by sponsor. We know that great content attracts, which is why this element was put at the forefront of re-inventing the product.
- Fully-supported customer experience: We also want to provide our customers with an excellent experience sponsoring this event – while they don’t have a dedicated “virtual booth” like they did in the past, they do have the chance to contribute content to one of our four editorial zones or through the engagement of a webinar or video presentation. We also have multi-levels of project management support to create a better experience all around and more direct support for our customers.
- First impressions are everything: We leveraged the 6Connex platform that we feel stepped up experience and graphics compared to the competition – the visuals are updated, the look and feel of the environment is smooth, and we think this helps bring the experience into 2016. We plan to re-use the same environment again later this year with updates to banners and branding – saving significant hours in production and making it easier and more turnkey to support, and leveraging past content again so the virtual event environment becomes more of a destination vs. a one-time use online event portal.
While this is all new, awesome, and different from past virtual events, we expect to keep refining the new model to make sure it’s working for our audience and sponsors.
Come see for yourself why virtual events are a powerful platform to engage with IT professionals. And be sure to contact us to learn more about our upcoming schedule of events and opportunities to be a part of the program!
Heather Haslinger is Director of Product, Process & Implementation for Client, Services & Delivery Operations in UBM Americas. Currently in her role at UBM Americas she leads a team focused on complex custom programs, such as online events, content syndication and digital issues, and she manages the systems and processes related to program management. Heather has produced interactive media throughout her career and is an industry expert in online events and webinars.