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January 18, 2018

Measuring the Live Experience: Developments in Analytics to Estimate Experiential Marketing’s ROI

MHT Partners  | Business & Information Services Investment Bank

Conventional marketing approaches are giving way to less conventional, interactive approaches such as experiential marketing, which includes events such as product launches, tradeshows, and press events as well as other face-to-face experiences, such as mobile tours and promotions. Live experiences between brands and their customers offer more engaging experiences and allow brands to differentiate themselves from competitors. According to EMI & Mosaic, almost 80% of brands will plan more experiential programs and events in the coming year compared to last year. Despite experiential marketing’s promise, marketers continue to struggle with ways to measure its return on investment (“ROI”).

Challenges with Data and Analytics in Experiential Marketing

Historically, data from live events has been inconsistent and fragmented, making it difficult for brands to demonstrate customer behavior changes before and after an event. As a result, the experiential marketing industry has been focused on qualitative analysis and insights. As brands continue to recognize the impact of successful, engaging experiential marketing events and projects, there continues to be an unmet need for data, analytics, and insights to guide better experiential marketing decision-making.

Advancements in Analytics

Recent advancements in event management software and other experiential marketing technologies have allowed technology companies and tech-enabled marketing services companies to offer tailored solutions to help brands better gauge ROI. Some players are enabling a shift to quantitative analysis via innovative solutions with comprehensive event data and insights. Others are offering industry-specific modules tailored to each step in a given event (e.g., registration, check-in, contest, survey, sampling, social share and photo opportunities).

Brands can leverage these new technologies to capture data from every interaction and ultimately to report that data in a uniform, transparent, and timely fashion. The resulting key performance indicators (“KPIs”) help brands better understand their customers and alter the value drivers available to achieve the desired customer behavior from live events.

Experiential Marketing Analytics Going Forward

Despite these recent tech-enabled advancements, brands are still early in their transition to quantitative solutions. According to a joint survey from Cvent and Event Marketer, only 38% of event professionals say that they understand what their attendees do on-site extremely/very well. In fact, 75% of event professionals believe they are missing opportunities to integrate a wider range of data and information to develop and leverage more comprehensive attendee profiles. This demonstrates a void for additional data and analytics to complete the picture around attendee behavior and experience. According to the same report, just under 30% of event professionals believe their organizations are extremely/very effective at collecting data, and less than 25% believe they are extremely/very effective at using their event data. Technology and software providers have proven the value of their solutions and will continue to benefit from pressures on brands to optimize experiential marketing spend.

The industry tailwind has generated increased investor interest in the space, resulting in deals such as Cvent’s 2015 acquisition of AllianceTech as well as Condé Nast’s 2017 acquisitions of experiential agency Pop2Life and event technology platform Ribyt. As the trend towards analytics continues, leaders in experiential marketing technology are likely to continue attracting customer and investor interest.

Cvent's "Power of Live Research Report" and Pop2life's "Experiential Marketing Stats for 2017"
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