Event Marketer’s Experiential Marketing Summit is one of the top conferences to attend when it comes to what the top players in the experiential world are doing, planning and thinking about. The Immersive Tech team, specifically Adrian Duke, Jeff Jang and Bruce Mackenzie attended as well as provided a thought leadership session that saw a high turnout and response from attendees. Taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada at Caesar’s Palace, the conference spanned 3 days with a wide variety of expertise coming together to share ideas, insights and visions.
There were plenty of fantastic conversations to be had, and now that we’ve settled back into the regular flow of things at our office we can summarize a few key themes we noticed during the conference:
PEOPLE, PRESENCE AND PERFORMANCE
Julie Hogan, Director of Global Face-to-Face Marketing kicked off her keynote just after breakfast with an honest and authentic story about her childhood and the special event every week her family crafted around Sunday dinners. It may have seen unrelated, but from it she showed how at the core of every experience her team put forward the focus was always around the people. From connecting to small business owners on leveraging Facebook to artistic installations, the core takeaway was to center all your decisions around the people experiencing it.
Like a carefully orchestrated performance, more than ever we need to factor in every step, touch-point and interaction the audience has in an experience including the emotions we want to suggest they feel when interacting with content, collateral or messaging.
2. EXPERIENCE STRATEGY WILL WIN
Patricia Houston, Founder and COO of MMR Live talked about how companies that focus on providing experiences that are seamless and intensely consider the whole experience will find success over companies that focus on traditional metrics that typically disregard or gloss over the audience experience.
This resonates quite a bit with what Immersive Tech does. Impressions, throughput and surveys can certainly be quantified easily but they don’t mean anything aside from the fact that someone did see, walk through and complete a survey. Focusing on and delivering an experience that creates authentic, human connections will be far more impactful and leave a lasting impression worth remembering.
3. PLAY IS UNDERUTILIZED AND UNDERVALUED
Part of our attendance of the Experiential Marketing Summit 2019 was to speak as one of the Thought Leadership speakers around a topic of our choosing. We chose to speak about play and how you can use it to drive engagement, and while we certainly believe strongly in it, our impressions up until that point that the experiential world at large was still slowly waking up to the potential behind the concept.
We were pleased to have an almost-full room with attendees taking notes, asking questions and intently listening for the full duration of our talk. It was clear then, and in our conversations afterwards that agencies, brands and government organizations (in multiple countries) are starting to realize that engagement is not as simple as a photobooth or art piece to take selfies with. Their questions showed us that there is a shift in thinking and that the experiences we create going forward need to encourage authentic reactions, emotions and actions by the audience and not just another impression to be counted.
4. TECHNOLOGY IS NOT THE PRIORITY
In walking the show floor and speaking to individuals and brands alike, it was apparent that while new technologies are worth knowing, the primary concern was not using more of it but to better understand how we engage our audiences and create more impactful experiences. That sounds a bit vague, but it’s accurate to what was being discussed at the conference. From American Express’ “Human-Centric Business Activations”, which took a look at activations that connected to the emotional needs of attendees, to fireside chats with AT&T on Esports and “Building Human Connections Through Non-Traditional Sports” it’s clear that the nature of the industry is consciously looking at the core of what makes experiences impactful.
GAME DESIGN FOR ENGAGEMENT: FROM POP-UPS TO ESCAPE ROOMS
On the second day we spoke about our experiences in using play as a tool for engagement:
Learn about the proven methodologies behind driving engagement through play and turn up the dial on interactivity. Presented by the team behind experiences for Intel, Capital One and the FDA, see how we've applied game design and innovative tech to facilitate play in everything from pop-ups and escape rooms, to team building on a global scale.
We are thrilled with the responses we’ve received and the resulting conversations. For those who couldn’t attend the Experiential Marketing Summit, or missed our talk, we captured it all on video and will be releasing it early June.
If you’re thinking of creating a narrative-driven experience for your activation, or turning training into an adventure, feel free to contact us.