EventTech 2014 – Final Recap

Posted by Matt Brown / November 6

The EventTech 2014 festivities drew to a close today, capping a very fun week of new technology and knowledge sharing across the experiential industry. After attending about a dozen sessions over the past few days, our team noticed a few trends that are worth sharing.

First, there are several new technologies that are gaining ground and successfully drawing big crowd at events such as this. My two favorites include the Oculus Rift augmented reality headset and the Microsoft Kinnect environment mapping device. These technologies are enabling rich immersive experiences and full-body digital interactions. For example, Mike Phillips from Globacore showcased a tactic they called “Paperdude Virtual Reality.” Essentially, a user could jump on a stationary bike, strap on an Oculus headset, and start pedaling. And then in the virtual world, the user would be immersed in an experience simulating a bicycle newspaper route. In this game, users could receive points by successfully throwing a newspaper at the passing mailboxes (arm movements were tracked by the Kinnect).

Another major trend involves the growth and evolution of social media marketing. As this becomes a more and more critical component of every marketer’s toolkit, the investment levels are increasing but brand managers are demanding more meaningful ROI metrics. What’s the value of a tweet? What’s the quality of the Facebook Likes that we’re investing in? There was also several discussions about needing to better understand our target audiences before launching a social campaign. For example, Melissa Porter and Shantel Rasmussen from Microsoft described an interesting case study and learning related to their Worldwide Partner Conference in July. Essentially, they found that a video UGC social sweepstakes promotion failed because their target technology geeks weren’t interested in content creation or starring in a video that would be showcased prominently. However, when they adjusted their approach towards question prompts and polls, they found their target audience very opinionated and much more interested in participating. On another note, Jared Augustine spoke about the strong value of celebrity partnerships in social campaigns and recommended Thuzio, OpenDorse, and If Only as complementary tools for everyone’s editorial calendars.

Finally, there were multiple sessions on basic event logistics in the modern age. Alex Stevens from Blue Pixel gave a fantastic presentation on how to activate in low connectivity environments. This is an ongoing problem for brand marketers that want to attract consumers with fun new technology and engagements, but are challenged by lack of wifi or cellular networks that are overwhelmed by large crowds. He recommended hedging risks by pursuing multiple options simultaneously: hardline from venue, wifi from venue, cradle point from both Verizon and AT&T, et cetera. He also recommended pursuing connectivity-independence by delivering native apps (instead of web apps) in these environments, hosting data locally, caching remote data, and using job queues for API/server calls that can try connecting again at a later time. On another note about event logistics, EventTech did a great job on some of the basics: comfortable chairs, charging stations throughout, event application provided by DoubleDutch, and refreshments throughout.

On the whole, it was a super fun and enjoyable conference. We learned a lot and had a blast delivering our own presentations on Installing a LinkedIn Social Lounge and How to Build a Twitter Vending Machine. For more information on that latter topic, you can find a whitepaper here, and the full presentation video here.