The Update: Shift to virtual event marketing

0:01 The playbook we’ve all been working off of for the past couple of years

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The playbook we’ve all been working off of for the past couple of years just needs to get thrown out.

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Things are really different.

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Needs have changed and as a consequence we need to change as an industry

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and we need to design for what people need right now

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In this episode of The Update,

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Marcelo Alba from Google’s Events and Experiences team

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the pitfalls and opportunities brands face as they take their events online.

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So as your team is figuring all this out,

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What have you learned? What approaches or techniques have been particularly helpful?

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When things change listen and ask.

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We’ve been doing a lot of listening tours both internally at Google

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as well as with many different audiences

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we’re trying to reach with all of our experiences and events.

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we’ve been asking questions

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like what is useful? What is helpful?

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What kinds of content do you do like right now and makes a lot of sense.

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And what are you watching.

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And understanding that is helping us design for the user

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as opposed to design for the user of three months ago.

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With everyone looking for so much content though,

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virtual events have become a really crowded space overnight.

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So what advice would you give to brands that are trying to stand out?

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I think it’s figuring out how you triangulate three key points.

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One is your audience.

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What is it they need during this time.

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It’s a strange time and people need all sorts of things.

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What is going to be most valuable to them during this time?

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Two is figuring out what your business needs?

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What is it we need to convey at this time?

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And how do we create something that sort of helps both of those at the same time?

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The third thing is going to be how you show up as a brand.

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How do you behave out in the world?

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Is it playful? Is it very sophisticated?

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How does it show up?

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And I think connecting those three points

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is going to make whatever you put out in the world just stand out and feel uniquely yours.

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Can you talk to me a little bit about the difference between hosting a live event and a pre-recorded event?

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How do I make that decision?

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I think the question we would ask ourselves is is there a very specific

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reason for it to be live?

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Unless there’s a very specific purpose for it,

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the ability for people to interact, something happening in a time and place that needs to be live,

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people being able to network before or after a very specific live moment,

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it doesn’t often make sense for something to be live.

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It makes far more sense to be able to script it,

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record it, record it again if it doesn’t go well, edit it and send it out to the world.

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It feels a bit more polished,

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a bit more relevant for the type of content people are consuming online at that moment.

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So if you’re struggling to answer the question,

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is there a specific purpose for why there should be live,

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the chances are it probably doesn’t need to be.

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So tell me about how you decide which platform to host your event on?

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The platform question is interesting

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because it’s essentially

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what media channel do you use to convey your message or host your event.

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And I think it’s similar to

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choosing media channels.

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You go back to your objective.

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If your objective is awareness for example you go for your high reach media channels like YouTube.

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If your objective is engagement, you look for higher touch,

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but lower reach vehicles, perhaps like Google Meet.

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And so by looking at what it is you’re trying to accomplish and what objectives you’re actually after,

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you can then start identifying which channels help you do that best

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and then figure out how you bring your event to that channel.

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So for brands trying to figure out how to measure these online events,

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do you have any practical advice?

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Think about measurement less like

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traditional event planning

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and think of it more like

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digital media planning.

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It’s not just about counting

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how many people and how many views.

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It’s now trying to figure out which content was most impactful.

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Which one had the highest engagement.

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Which one had the highest number amount of watch time.

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Which one led people to another piece of content or another experience.

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You can track all of this now that we’ve gone virtual and digital.

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And so I think being very clear about the journey

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and where we want people to go on that journey,

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mapping that out and figuring out how you can track it

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is going to really help us define the value of these things moving forward.

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So what’s the team working on right now that you’re super excited about?

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There’s several that I’m really excited by. There’s one we’re doing

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for the new fronts coming up,

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what is known as Brandcast.

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We’re doing something called Brandcast Delivered.

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Brandcast can’t happen

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in real life as we all know

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and so when we started thinking through what a virtual version of brandcast could be,

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we started asking ourselves

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what is the context people are going to be watching this in.

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Likely on their couch.

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At best in their home office. But it’s going to be from home.

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And so how do we bring something uniquely different to their home

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when they’re watching it in a browser with probably 13 or 15 different tabs open

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so that we actually stay focused,

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they stay focused on us and aren’t sort of just disappearing into the background.

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So what we came up with was this concept

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called Brandcast Delivered

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where their inputs in terms of what they like, what they want to hear about

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actually get fed back to them through a custom piece of content that’s designed specifically for them. So it’s

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personalized content

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and it’s talking about all the things new things coming out on YouTube which are really cool.

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But it’s done in a way that is going to be far more relevant to people because they’re the ones who chose the content.

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So what do you think is the future of the events industry?

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Where do you see this all going?

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I see the world where virtual events

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actually benefit physical events and physical events benefit virtual events.

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These two worlds that were historically very far apart

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now come together and exist in a way that help each other.

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People want to convene. They want to have coffees. They want a handshake.

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They want to learn stuff and there’s still going to be value to gathering physically.

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I think now all of that stuff can happen digitally

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and more people will have access to that

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and that’s really an exciting thing.

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I think there’s a number of digital interactions

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that we can start bringing to the physical world.

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And how does that then change the physical event industry and how people interact.

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So I think the merging of these two worlds

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unleash new opportunities for the entire industry and that’s super exciting.