Hybrid concepts are rapidly gaining in importance as an extended development of live communication. This is made possible by progressive digitalization – and COVID-19
Although digitalization has been a hot topic for most sectors of business and society since long before Corona, the events industry was largely unaffected. Until recently, there was simply no need to consider purely digital or hybrid event formats. The pandemic is now causing rapid change and a lot needs to be done to bring about an urgent industry-wide catch-up. The former barriers to participation in digital events have disappeared almost overnight. People and businesses alike are now forced to rely on digital solutions. And of course, this poses major challenges for companies and agencies.
But the time is ripe, and we already have the technology. This opens up a playground full of opportunities for agencies. Our Chief Digital Officer, Alexander Böttcher, outlines three theories as to why the future belongs to hybrid concepts, and provides examples of how this can be achieved.
The term “seamless customer journey” is old hat in the digital sector, and tech-driven business models such as Amazon are driving development and setting the standard for the industry. If you want to provide successful hybrid events, you need to adopt an unconditional customer-centric approach, rethink existing technologies and creatively deploy them.
In terms of live hybrid communication, the following applies: digital and analogue touchpoints should merge and create a bridge between the two worlds. The participants should always be the focus. This brings terrific opportunities for marketing, because hybrid formats offer entirely new consumer insights that align and continuously optimize the experience to best meet the needs of the respective users during the event, and provide deep insights into the needs of the target group. Furthermore, participants gain additional value by being able to decide for themselves which parts of the experience they wish to physically or digitally engage in, according to their individual preferences. A remaining challenge is to holistically integrate the consumers, regardless of whether they participate in person or electronically. Therefore, the brand experience should be truly hybrid, delivering a consistent experience across all channels.
Of course, extended engagement formats for purely digital target groups existed even before Corona. A prominent example is Formula E, which, in addition to offering physical participation at the event, called on spectators to give their favorite driver a Fanboost online. The driver with the most votes received a 5-second boost, which could be used in the second round. Thus, the live experience was directly influenced by viewers.
The pandemic has caused a shift in societal values, with safety becoming a more entrenched need. Hygiene concepts must be a consideration for all meetings from now on, and the larger the gathering, the harder it will be to meet the hygiene requirements. For this reason alone, hybrid events will become more and more popular, because digital extensions support compliance with hygiene rules without excluding participants or reducing their range. Consumers can make their own decisions about how to participate. This offers great added value in times of the pandemic, and hybrid events also have a lot of potential for the period after that. Due to the ongoing Corona crisis, the organizers of DMEXCO are going one step further and hosting this year’s fair in a purely digital format. Of course, it would have been nice for exhibitors and visitors to do business 1:1 again. However, under the circumstances this is a responsible approach, and companies who meet their potential customers‘ need for higher safety standards will receive positive recognition and will certainly not suffer any disadvantages in the future.
Hybrid events also offer new opportunities for addressing and engaging target groups. Here it is important to think differently about existing possibilities and to implement them in new ways, not only to make use of new technologies, but also to have a coherent communication concept on hand. Hybrid events combine the best of analogue and virtual events, leaving room for many new and creative approaches, projects and elements of experience. For example, the pandemic has prompted Munich company Feinkost Käfer to develop a new business concept under the motto „Party out of the Box.“ Customers can order house party kits including music, decorations and their desired foods – for themselves and their ‘guests’ at their homes. Käfer delivers the same package to each guest on time and sends a link to an individually created video conference to every participant. The celebration is then connected via a video tool provided by Käfer. It’s creative, it’s memorable and the idea will be spread by word of mouth.
Whatever the future brings, it will be exciting. Hybrid events will certainly contribute to this, as they offer the opportunity to design completely new ideas and develop new potentials using a range of technologies. The future belongs to great ideas and creative concepts, in which technology, experience and storytelling merge coherently, every time and all the time. The on-demand generation expects available content, high security standards, a product with a strong personal focus, and a compelling brand experience.
Let’s look forward to the refinement of hybrid events, as digitalization becomes ever more professionalized.