Earlier this year, 2Fish managing director Adam Mortimer attended the 2011 Event Marketing Summit in Chicago. He identified five top trends in experiential marketing that will deliver the most effective consumer brand experiences.
1. Digital is integral to experiential
While experiential marketing takes place at a certain time and place, truly successful experiential marketing generates ongoing interest and conversation – which is why integrating digital channels, is essential. They allow audiences to re-tell your brand story to their networks with conviction. Make sure your agency has carefully considered how assets created during the program may be captured and shared. Mountain Dew did it well – driving fans to first collaborate online to develop the name, colour, packaging and even TVCs. Three teams then criss-crossed the US to tap into the passion and enthusiasm of Mountain Dew fans. Teams were present at large scale events, skate parks, festivals and even turned their own homes into voting headquarters! Photos and videos were shared real-time across the web creating a campaign buzz that reached national news broadcasts and press.
2. Handheld mobile devices on the ground
The combination of personal location data and the constant presence of mobile phones means marketers have entirely new ways to engage limited only by battery life. As marketing evolves from creating impressions to immersion, engagement and amplification, increasingly the mobile phone is proving to have the greatest reach. Mobile smartphones enable the closest relationship to audiences via content consumption, interactivity and sharing via social platforms. The ideal brand experience is that in which brands relate to audiences via a physical connection to generate immersive, unforgettable experiences to be actively shared with text to win voting, contests and experiences leading the way. And, of course, capturing participant data and providing a valuable brand-in-the-hand measurement tool.
3. Measurement: the data behind the experience
The emergence of sophisticated measurement methodologies and customised evaluation practices reflect how the future of experiential marketing is linked to outcomes analysis and performance. Delivering brand engagement measures has typically been more difficult than counting impressions or readership numbers alone. The best measurement models apply the same rigor as traditional media evaluation, with emerging trends indicating the brand experience is doing the heavy lifting in creating brand value along with brand engagement behaviour metrics . Immersive media technologies that collect real-time data along with mobile phone surveys and live data capture are proving highly effective in measuring brand sponsorship and event experience data. Measurement criteria can include dwell time, awareness, perceptions, engagement, intent/advocacy, brand fit, message delivery and feedback.
4. The hybrid agency model
The shift from creating impressions to encouraging deeper levels of engagement sees the traditional agency model in transition. The hybrid agency model operates best when there is a sense of partnership and a sustained focus on the quality of the brand experience as a creator of value. Agencies need to visualise the client brand experience at the heart of the exercise with all channels focusing efforts on how they are supporting and ‘living the brand’ – PR, online, sponsorship, retail, events and advertising working to support the brand experience. The proliferation of communication channels and subsequent reliance on numerous agencies requires a true two-way investment and sharing of knowledge - ideally with the client actively sharing plans, vision, issues, desired outcomes and challenges with agency groups. The agency group needs to then pro-actively take the initiative to present concepts that create engagement in new and exciting ways. It takes energy, depth of thinking, passion and consistent communication matched to defined objectives and tangible outcomes.
5. Scalable thinking and sustainability
It’s no longer enough for the consumer to love your product. Audiences have to love your process as well! Audiences will openly share their feelings around particular brand-poor practices, with the consequences and impact potentially far reaching. The benchmark experiential programs have a sustained emphasis on quality control processes, sustainable design methodologies, material origins, transportation, product specification, resource consumption, waste planning and life-cycle planning. There is now a global Sustainable Event Alliance to ensure knowledge is shared openly and best practices are maintained under a structured membership charter.