In The Event of Mass Cancellation, Please Brace For Impact.

Traditional event marketing as we know it is gone; a direct result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The on-going effects of this outbreak are disrupting nearly every industry. Fear of spreading the disease further has resulted in the cancellation or postponement of all public gatherings including major sporting events, concerts, college classes, music and film festivals, tech summits, and industry conferences. This week, it was announced that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, scheduled to open in Tokyo on July 24th, are being postponed and will now be held “beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021”, leaving NBCUniversal with an over $1.25 billion ad revenue hole for this year. These unprecedented decisions follow the trending Twitter hashtag #CancelEverything which supported the practice of avoiding any large in-person interactions altogether – but at what cost? From a health perspective, this was the most logical (and frankly, only) option, while to companies across nearly all sectors, this was an earthquake for business.

What’s Going On?

Let’s rewind. Over the last few years, Business-To-Consumer (B2C) and Business-To-Business (B2B) events were really gaining traction, with company leadership supporting event marketing more than ever. However, this was contingent on the ability to prove return on investment (ROI). Forty-eight percent of brands reported a ROI of between 3:1 to 5:1 with their events and experiences, and 29% indicated a return over 10:1.1 Events made up 24% of B2B marketing budgets.

By 2020, 3.2m global professional events were expected to be taking place on an annual basis.2 Most marketers reported that their primary reason for organizing events was to support lead generation and sales acceleration (30%), followed by brand awareness for their company or products (21%), and revenue generation from ticket sales or sponsorships (16%). Thirty-eight percent of marketers agreed that conferences were the most effective type of event for achieving business goals considering two-thirds of conference attendees represented a new prospect for a potential customer.3 In 2019, half of companies allocated over 21% of their marketing budgets towards events (+39% increase from the prior year). Most companies prioritize event hosting above sponsoring, exhibiting, and attending. The allocation of event budgets is largely dependent on the KPI’s each company is working towards. The majority of businesses (63%) intended to grow their total event budgets by 22% on average in the next year.4 No doubt, these responses will be very different by the end of this year.

Just Who Is Affected By This? In Short, Everyone.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly all industries participated in in-person events in some form, whether through sponsorship, hosting, or attendance. The ongoing repercussions are not only shaking things up among B2C companies, but B2B companies as well. As the situation develops, analysts and economic experts say changes in the long-term business picture will be just as critical as the immediate challenges that brands are currently facing. Marketers are now tasked with reimagining the consumer experience and developing a new approach to establishing a connection. The consumers and clients that would be attending these in-person events are still out there, it’s just a matter of how marketers will reach them.

 For example, pressure to diversify revenue streams have pushed media organizations to increase investments in physical events over the years, given the potential to put high-profile industry leaders, sponsors, and reporters all in the same room. This year, media companies like A+E, Roku, Discovery, YouTube, and NBCUniversal made the swift decision to move to digital-only upfront presentations. Any brands, not just media companies, that rely on physical activations for networking and lead generation to grow their business, are now having to rework marketing strategies and forgo the usual variables that make an event an event. Though numerous companies have begun embracing virtual event offerings, non-tech companies without the proper infrastructure for setting them up, will most likely struggle.

It’s worth noting that consumers, too, are going through a transformation, having to convert personal relationships to digital ones. As we all continue to move forward, growing pains are guaranteed while companies strive to keep business running as usual in the wake of this pandemic. Companies need a backup plan to continue to effectively engage with their core audience, without leaving a significant gap in their buyer journey. If companies drive adoption of these heavily utilized types of digital touchpoints (such as OTT/CTV) long-term, they could become key points in the buyer journey in the future.

 The real question remains, is a mass audience even concerned about engaging with a brand during a time of economic crisis? While there is not one definitive answer for how companies should handle this time, it is important to focus on instilling trust, remaining transparent, and nurturing relationships with clients.

The Value of Events In The Traditional Marketing Funnel

Event marketing serves as a complementary element for strengthening the funnel among brands, given the ability to bring together people of a similar mindset. It’s no secret that events have long been the go-to tactic for brands to boost awareness, generate leads, and feed the sales funnel – but what happens when you take events out of the equation? Yes, it does make things easier when you know that all attendees at a given tech conference are avid tech enthusiasts, for example, but there are also other ways to reach them, if not at a conference in-person. The good news is, live-events have become as popular as they are because of how well they can work in tandem with digital marketing strategies, so that leaves plenty of alternative digital targeting opportunities for reaching potential leads.

Similar to the evolving media landscape, the traditional marketing funnel is also transforming. There has been a debate in the marketing and sales worlds over who exactly owns the funnel. One side argues that as consumers have become more dependent on digital content to inform their purchasing decisions, marketers have taken on more responsibility for the funnel, as they continue to nurture prospects through the purchasing process. Each step of the funnel is equally important and, while brand objectives vary across industries, marketers should never try to skip stages.

An increasingly common practice among marketing, sales, and customer service and experience managers is to “flip the funnel” into a customer experience funnel. This funnel outlines the process of turning customers into advocates, which in turn refuels the top of the marketing funnel by driving awareness and lead generation.

Time To Be Innovative

The keyword during this trying time for businesses, is pivot. Marketers are being forced to rapidly adapt to the fast-changing environment because today’s marketing will not work tomorrow. Live experiences that require physical interaction won’t be an option for brands and marketers in the foreseeable future. Whether the goals are to provide entertainment or rewards, showcase new products and services, or establish or deepen business relationships, brands that once relied on face-to-face conversations, must now utilize other channels to interact with and engage prospects.

With all of the uncertainty and commercial disruption occurring right now, one thing is very certain: change is in store. It seems no one knows when things will get back to “normal”, whatever that even means now. The road ahead is not a dead end, but rather, a new path to be created, full of rebuilding. It’s an interesting opportunity for brands to reinvent themselves and their practices, potentially unlocking new audiences through new marketing tactics. It’s a reset button. As marketers, we pride ourselves on being creatively innovative and constantly thinking on our toes. Though in-person engagement has long been a key element in the marketing mix, this “new normal” will allow for a whole new form of brand storytelling.

Sources:

  1. Event Marketing Institute (EMI) & Mosaic, EventTrack 2015
  2. Forrester Research, The B2B Marketing Playbook For 2020
  3. Media Radar, November 20, 2019, “Event Marketing ROI for B2B – SIIA BIMS 2019” blog post
  4. Bizzabo, Event Marketing 2019 Benchmarks and Trends Report

Mike Seiman

Mike Seiman, CEO & Chairman, is the founder of Digital Remedy, a digital media solutions company leading the tech enabled marketing space he co-founded while still a college student at Hofstra University in the early 2000s. The company has grown quickly and is now a major player within the crowded digital advertising landscape. The rapid growth of Digital Remedy, formerly CPXi led to its inclusion on Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing privately held advertising/marketing companies in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014. Mike was selected as a semi-finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year initiative in 2010 and 2013 and as a finalist in 2009 and 2014. In his free time, Mike serves on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Hofstra University. He also focuses on numerous philanthropic initiatives including sitting on the boards of the H.E.S. (Hebrew Educational Society non-profit community center) and Children International, where he spearheaded the development of community centers in both Guayaquil, Ecuador in 2010 and Barranquilla, Colombia in 2014.

David Zapletal

Before graduating in 2005 with degrees in Retail and Consumer Science (with an emphasis in eCommerce) and a Minor in Public Business Administration at the University of Arizona, David Zapletal had already successfully grown a start up ad network from serving an initial 1 million impressions per day to over 10 million impressions per day. It was his deep understanding of internet advertising during the industry’s beginning stages that led him to another start up at the time, CPXi. More than 8 years that have passed and Zapletal currently serves as Chief Innovation & Media Officer for Digital Remedy. In that role he continues to help grow and implement optimization tactics across various ad serving platforms, oversee daily operations of the account management and trafficking groups and maximizes ROI for Direct Response advertisers as well as for Publishers. Outside of Digital Remedy, Zapletal commits his efforts to an organization called Camp Dream Street, a camping program for children with disabilities, where he serves on the Board of Directors.

Jeff Reitzen

Jeff has worked in multiple facets of the online industry, from sales to operations as well as consumer engagement, content analytics and most recently in data optimization. His career began as a wedding, bar mitzvah, and Sweet 16 DJ where he learned the delicate balance of crowd energy management. Quickly, this skill made him incredibly successful in managing online sales for Geico. He joined CPXi at its startup stage as employee number 4 and has been a key driver of continued growth. His unique knowledge of what converts in the digital ad space, the application of data, and how to optimize platforms for efficiency continues to be invaluable to Digital Remedy clients. Today, Jeff is responsible for innovating and optimizing all Digital Remedy offerings including platforms, systems, tools, and internal processes—ensuring the organization remains on the precipice of the marketplace.

Mike Juhas

Mike Juhas, has over 13+ years of experience in ad tech client services, working with brands, agencies, and publishers ranging from top 10 advertisers to small regional organizations, to rep firms, holding companies and independent shops. An integral member of the Digital Remedy team, Juhas leads all client relationships, including facilitating onboarding and integration, establishing relationship protocols, overseeing Quarterly Business Reviews and status meetings, navigating financial coordination, and overseeing 24/7 team support. His specialties include consultative services, planning strategy, and account management disciplines. Juhas lives in New Canaan, CT with his wife and two daughters, and their dog, Perry–the unofficial company mascot.

TJ Sullivan

TJ Sullivan has over 20 years of media sales and leadership experience. His knowledge of the digital media landscape, ability to develop strategic solutions that solve brand challenges, and talent for motivating sales teams, have made him a vital member of several media and ad tech organizations. Before joining Digital Remedy, Sullivan was VP, Connections at iHeart Media, a cross-divisional group that enabled national advertisers to seamlessly work with multiple iHeart business units; CRO of Reelcontent, a video distribution company for brands; SVP of sales at AdoTube, a video ad network; and was Co-Founder and SVP of video measurement company, OpenSlate—for which he is still an advisor.

Sullivan had served as the President of 212, New York’s Interactive Advertising Club, and currently advises many early stage start-ups in the programmatic and video space. Notably, RUN (sold to Publicis in 2014), Futures Media, Transmit.Live, and Kubient.

Outside of his work in the media industry, Sullivan sits on the Board of St. Elizabeth School in Wyckoff, New Jersey and the Advancement Committee of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey. He resides in New Jersey with his wife and four children.

IP Zone: Leverage the relationship between users and the location of their IP addresses in a cookie-free, safe and scalable way.

Behavioral: Combine first party with network analytics and enormous scale to define custom audience channels that are optimized to sites with high brand engagement.

Demographic: Reach the right audience based on demographic characteristics such as age, gender and income.

Mobile Device: Target users by mobile device type (Smartphone, tablet, etc.), carrier and operating system.

Geo-Location: Target your audience residential cluster, proximity to retail locations, campaign level DMAs and more.

Contextual: Place a relevant ad in front of a user who is reading content that contains specific terms.

Buying Power and Quality

Let’s be honest. Your ad ops are limited by your access to only a handful of channels and DSPs. You want more reach and better prices, but don’t want to sacrifice quality in order to achieve those goals. Digital Remedy has access to a vast multitude of channels based on relationships we’ve cultivated over nearly 20 years in business. That means we get the best prices, have personal relationships, and don’t get sent to voicemail when we call.

It also means that we can execute omni-channel ad ops for better prices than an internal team, while ensuring the quality is up to industry standards. On top of access to all sorts of specific audiences we’re able to to leverage first- and third-party data across all your campaigns and pivot across platforms based on results. Any campaign, any budget, any platform, any audience. Digital Remedy backed by AdReady is restriction free ad ops….and what could be better than that?

Resources, Time, and Overhead

When was the last time you enjoyed balancing budgets, reading resumes, dealing with aggressive sales teams, or wasting years of time for small gains in performance. By partnering with Digital Remedy you get the full support of $30m in OPEX including marketing teams, sales teams, and a dedicated 24/7 ad operations team. No hiring new employees for media optimization, business development, or account management. No months of training and on-boarding. No long meetings crafting sales materials. Just your team focused on making deals, and our teams and tech focused on supporting and executing those deals in a tech-enabled, digital ecosystem designed to get the most out of any KPI.

Reporting and Support

How nice would it be to have all of your data and insights in one location. We don’t mean an excel sheet sent out once a week with complicated charts, or an XML file with pages and pages and pages of tables (what is this, 2003?). We mean a fully customizable dashboard reporting in real time, or as real time as possible. You get to decide the how, what, and when of the reporting you’re seeing. And that’s ALL of the how, what, and when’s. If you want to see breakouts of all of the individual campaigns in your system, done. If you want broad scope comparisons of all of the campaigns in the last year, done. If you want to see CTR’s for specific audiences and compare them to CPM for your best performing advertiser but limit the scope to campaigns greater than 30k, done. All of this is at your fingertips with the AdReady Dashboard, all in one place.

Jessica Cortapasso

With more than a decade of experience in human capital management, Jessica Cortapasso serves as SVP, People at Digital Remedy. After graduating from Muhlenberg College, she quickly recognized her passion for people and entered the workforce in Human Resources where she gained expertise in employee relations, designing strategic benefit plans, and the development, implementation, and curation of corporate engagement initiatives for big-name brands and small companies alike. Becoming a member of the Digital Remedy family in 2013 while simultaneously acquiring her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management and Development from New York University, Jessica has steered company culture through significant events ranging from acquisitions and a rebranding, to the development and application of our Core Values that shape our daily business practices. Cortapasso resides in Brooklyn, plays competitive volleyball, and loves spending time with her nieces.

Erez Feld

Responsible for the financial and legal practices of Digital Remedy, Erez brings 22 years of experience in precision financial analysis, growth management practices, strategic acquisition, and investment leadership. A graduate of Hofstra University, Erez began his career modeling for corporate finance, and expanded his accounting prowess in the real estate sector. Erez joined Digital Remedy in 2008 as a senior accountant, and helped to create and build an accounting department that could support the rapid growth of the company and aligned with those needs. Over the past 12 years he has evolved through various positions at the company within the finance discipline, supervising and mentoring additional finance personnel, while growing under the tutelage of Michael Fleischman, former CFO of Digital Remedy. Today, he leads the Finance Department by supporting high-level projects such as acquisitions and restructuring, and is responsible for overseeing all financial assets, establishing financial procedures, controls, and reporting systems.

Michael Fleischman

After a successful career as an accomplished Fortune 500 financial professional leading Corporate Finance and Strategic Planning at Cablevision Systems Corporation and its programming subsidiary Rainbow Media Holdings, Michael currently plays a role in the overall management of Digital Remedy including direct responsibility for all financial-related activities including accounting, financial planning, M&A, legal, insurance, real estate and banking relationships. Michael brings more than 25 years of media experience at Cablevision and Rainbow Media and during his career was instrumental in the launching and managing of a number of cable television networks including 10 Regional Sports Networks across the US, American Movie Classics, Bravo, and the Independent film channel as well as the structuring of corporate partnerships with companies including Liberty Media, NBC, Fox/NewsCorp and MGM. Additionally, he was the finance lead on a number of professional sports team acquisitions including Madison Square Garden, the successful IPO of Cablevision and a tracking stock at Rainbow Media.Michael was involved in the creation and launch of Rainbow Advertising Sales which was one of the Cable Industry’s first Local Advertising Sales Divisions.

Tony Pascal

With over two decades of experience in the design, product, and technology space, Tony joined Digital Remedy as a graphic designer in 2007. His responsibilities quickly expanded, landing him in leadership roles across multiple disciplines including creative direction, analytics, monetization optimization, and management of platform development. He continued to grow with the organization over the last fourteen years, overseeing all design, development, and execution of Digital Remedy products and platforms. In his current role as SVP, Product & Technology, Tony leads product and technology development for the company and acts as the go-to liaison across teams, ensuring alignment on all aspects of internal and client-facing technology initiatives.

Prior to Digital Remedy, Tony built and ran his own direct response company from 2002-2007 after graduating from New York Institute of Technology, where he learned the fundamentals of digital advertising and optimization strategies that still remain relevant today.

In a previous life, Tony was a ski instructor and still remains an avid skier today. When he is not leading product development, he can be found working on old cars, rock climbing and hitting the slopes.

Gayle Meyers

Gayle Meyers is an entrepreneur, venture partner, investor, and operating resource in the digital media and marketing industry, with over two decades of executive leadership experience. After launching a management consulting firm, Growthing which is focused on optimizing growth strategies for executive leaders and their organizations, Meyers has frequently been tapped for high-profile consulting and advisory positions to help marketing technology companies enhance their in-market presence.

“Gayle is widely recognized as a leading strategist with years of expertise in the ad tech space,” said Mike Seiman, Chairman and CEO of Digital Remedy. “Her career in discovering and integrating game-changing technologies in the marketing industry will serve as an invaluable resource as we continue to enhance our product suite in the months ahead.”

With expertise spanning multiple disciplines, Meyers frequently serves as a keynote speaker at industry conferences for companies such as Google, Verizon, Omnicom, LiveRamp, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Oracle. A list of her notable past clients who have benefitted from her unique insights to increase shareholder value includes Tinuiti (acquired by New Mountain Capital), Adometry (acquired by Google), MediaForge (acquired by Rakuten), Integral Ad Science (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), and Tapad (acquired by Telenor).

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