Some interesting discussion around this topic, below. Of course virtual components of live events have been around for over a decade. The biz model has been elusive. I remember sitting through a disastrous demo of an audio simulcast tool in 98. The product had horrible latency (audio delay) problems. Me and my colleagues sat there yelling at a PC for ten minutes. It kept echoing back at us, until the guy doing the demo disappeared into a fog of echos. That company disappeared in the dot com bust.
I did some checking around on the ZDE platform. It’s apparently based on tools developed by Stream57. I spoke with them and they seem to have a lot experience with live webcasting. I also spoke with someone who has worked with them and they said they do a good Read more…
At B2B Presence we pontificate in a self-serving way on the benefits of face-to-face media, and take pains to point out the shortcomings of webcasting and other “virtual” events (would you be happy with a “virtual” vacation?). However, we’re not blind to the glorious digital sunrise and we’re frequently scanning the horizon for signs of the inevitable convergence of live and virtual media.
Now comes Ziff Davis Enterprise, a company that frequently “gets it” before many others. This recent press release on their new tool to bridge virtual and live events is extremely promising. They appear to be leveraging this in their custom event business, so I would expect this to start small. The proof will be in streaming—we’ll keep an eye on this.
The rise and fall of ZDE’s custom events business is a story that deserves its own mini-series. This group, under Martha Schwartz and then Kirk Laughlin grew to mammoth Read more…
I have been working in the events and media space for close to 15 years and would consider myself a “hard-core” face-to-face events supporter but over the past two years I have had to acknowledge that virtual events are a platform that I need to embrace and learn about. So I get asked question all the time by experts in the events industry: “Do you think virtual events are the answer? Are they going to replace face-to-face events?” (no way–never), “Are they going to add excitement back to the events space?” (maybe), “Are they going to a major part of advertisers budgets? (maybe).
Obviously, no one knows the answer to those questions except for the first one. It is evident that in-person events will never go away. Yes, they will go through cycles and events that don’t remain relevant will struggle or go away but nothing can replace the handshake and the in-person relationship building–not the online communication and interaction of a virtual event, not the virtual business card exchange (who made that up?), not the online chat Read more…
It was during the post-dot-com bust at Chemical Week and we were, literally, working under the shadow of 9/11. No one wanted to travel and everything was on hold. We were heading into the fiscal year with a shortfall of several hundred thousand dollars. It was not a time to plan a big new launch. We needed quick money.
Luckily, Mario Di Ubaldi, my VP at the time, brought experience from his previous position that gave us a crutch to hobble on. We got three major sponsors to go in on a CEO Roundtable. It was, essentially, 10 industry CEO’s sitting around a table participating in directed discussion followed by a dinner. Conversation was recorded and transcribed for an editorial piece. Sponsors got a seat at the table. A couple of other neat tricks made it successful.
It was hard work, but cheap to produce and it netted a quick $50k. Then we did Read more…
Here’s a great example of user-driven content coming from inside the dynamic world of business media: Zucchini Dinners provides an intimate setting for media executives to sit directly with 10 key executives. They create their own content, and drive their own discussions. This is an invitation-only event–I just stumbled on this site, so I don’t think you’re even supposed to know about this.
Another great concept is Lunch 2.0 which started in Silicon Valley and has recently come to New York. Nerds gather for lunch, and nerd-seeking organizations play host–what could be more perfect?
What do these events have in common? Purposely weak central-organizing structure (disintermediation) and food (integration). Why does food count as integration? Because you have to eat, and these events leverage that unavoidable fact.
Ignore the snarky tone of this post from Valleywag and consider 1. What tech conferences (and eventually all conferences) are becoming in spite of the efforts of conference organizers, and 2. what’s going on at the New York Times.
1. Face-to-face events have the potential to be the locus of an information broadcast driven by the participants. This is happening without encouragement from conference organizers. How does this get harnessed?
2. The New York Times gets it–hopefully not too late for their survival. Read this New York Magazine article on the renegade cybergeeks behind nytimes.com. I’ve seen a dozen things recently on the web site that made me stop and think. Some of them will work. Now they’re opening their API to outside developers. There’s a B2B event opportunity in there somewhere.
E3 is the game industry trade show that grew immense shortly after its establishment, and then suddenly decided that it wanted to be be a smaller, more business focused event. I assumed that they had absorbed the lesson of Comdex and wished to avoid becoming another monster trade show meltdown. This is a decision that only an association event could take. No for-profit producer could walk away from revenue of this scale.
I assumed that we were going to see an exciting New Model–that they had a great idea for being a smaller event. There are a lot of cool potential here–if you were going to launch a hybrid, networked, technology-enabled event, this would be the place. Apparently not. They’re going back to being a trade show again. I hope they’ve noticed that it’s 2009.
I did a little work on Game Developer when it was being acquired by Miller Freeman. Game Developer is more business focused than E3. This is a weird industry sector. They have to put a lot of effort into keeping teenage gamers off the show floor, while making sure that teenage game development professionals (some very successful) still have access to the event.
Meetup is a great web service that allows average folks like you me to schedule a meeting, invite friends, and share comments. It’s essentially an enhanced e-vite, but the company has put some effort into develop communities of like-minded enthusiasts. They’ve got thousands of groups listed.
I belong to, and attend, the New York High Tech Meetup. This group was organized by the founder of Meetup, Scott Heiferman. It’s one of the larger, more dynamic groups on Meetup. I went to their monthly meeting which was held last night at the new IAC Building, a fantastic building designed by Frank Gehry. Each meeting includes 6-8 entrepreneurs making presentations about their startups. There are 6000 people in the New York High Tech Meetup group and about 400 were there last night. More would have been there if there was more space. This meetup always fills up quickly (online registration limits attendance). Used to be free, now they charge $10 to cut down on no-shows.
Anyway, Meetup has been successful in creating a tight business community that any B2B media company would be happy to have, but because they are a web services company they apparently don’t know how to leverage or monetize it. I don’t know how they make money, other than traffic on their site. The people I talk to at these meeting always discuss potential value added options for these events–things they would be willing to pay for. These ideas go nowhere because the event is essentially a voluntary effort. Business marketers should take a look at Meetup and see how this model can be adapted to a serious B2B effort.