Home > Integration, New Models > ZDE Marries Virtual to Live

ZDE Marries Virtual to Live

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 proportions. Someday someone will have to capture the entire story in a business school thesis. ZDE continues to innovate. I spoke with someone there recently who surprised me with a long discussion about a business built on the development of widgets. And in February they announced a “new suite of Alinean-powered interactive, web-based, self-service calculators and sales tools.” That deserves a second look.

Extra Credit: Anyone who can point to other examples of live + virtual event media will receive a free subscription to B2B Presence. Do the math: that’s a savings of over infinity. Leave comments.

  1. March 29th, 2009 at 20:44 | #1


    I got a good chuckle from the ZD press release claiming that this product is “The first tool of its kind in the enterprise IT industry”. I wonder how much research was done before writing that. I am a 25 year veteran of IT events and I was augmenting my events with online components while at Intel way back in 96-98 and following that at Macromedia for several years and also at IDG later on. I can give you lots of examples really. The key strategy that I used in my mix of live and virtual events was to organize the virtual as a brand extension of the physical event with it’s own life on-line that was constantly renewed throughout the year with fresh content and activities, keeping attendees engaged with the brand and each other until the next physical event happened. It also served to boost my attendance because I grew eyeballs organically through blogs, SEM, and WOM. By the way my company, EventPlanet, has been creating this type of virtual event strategy for over four years now in IT, Financial, Consumer Products, and other

    Richard Feldman, CEO

  2. Emily Wilson
    March 31st, 2009 at 20:19 | #2


    While I agree that digital complements to in person events is by no means a revolutionary idea, companies like IDG and Ziff Davis have been doing those types of events for years, the Ziff Davis platform is actually quite different. I attended the online portion of this event launch, and also being a veteran of IT events, I can honestly say it is not at all like what is currently out there. The Ziff Davis platform or “simulcast” is a desktop interface that provides the virtual attendees with the opportunity to engage with the speakers and participate in the live discussion in real time. During the event, I was able to participate in live polling, community chats and a live Q&A. As a matter of fact, the speaker cited the difference in answers between the online audience and the in person audience while he was at the podium.

    I would also cite how only until recently has the technology been good enough to allow people located in low bandwidth areas to view a live flash presentation and participate in a real time dialogue at the same time. As I am sure you will agree, the combination of virtual events and live in person engagements has historically been a one way conversation. Presentations were recorded at the in person event and then rebroadcasted online as additional assets in order gain long term exposure for the conference.

    But please don’t take my word for it. Apparently they have several more planned already. So I would highly recommend that you attend the next live event and see for yourself how it works, before you pass judgment as you have above.

    On a lighter note, I get a bigger chuckle out of individuals that downplay the innovative nature of a product, knowing nothing about it, simply as a means to promote both their own expertise and their company’s products. I believe you neglected to include your 1-800 number and the phrase, “And if you act now, Event Planet will give you 2 events for the price of one.

  3. April 3rd, 2009 at 14:57 | #3

    Hello Emily,

    I will try to respond to your post as tactfully as possible.

    You said that I downplayed the innovative nature of the product. I did not. I stated that Ziff themselves are not the innovators. That technology platform exists for anyone that wants it. Ziff does not own the platform. In fact, I have sold Ziff Davis online event platforms so I know everything about what they are doing. And I sold the same application to other companies before them. Thank you for your reccomendation to attend thier next live event but I have already attended years worth of them and am exceedingly more qualified than you to pass judgements and run a company that produces virtual events.

  4. April 4th, 2009 at 19:47 | #4

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