If there is one constant we’ve all made use of in 2020 - in what proved to be an unpredictable year - it’s technology. We used it like never before: for school lessons, for company meetings, to buy our groceries, to stay in touch with friends and loved ones and for our everyday needs, such as banking or doctors’ appointments. Technology helped to underpin the events industry too, providing some exciting experiences and some innovative uses of tech. With the return to live events on the horizon, there is some light at the end of the tunnel and technology has a key part to play in taking experiences and content to the next level.
Focus on intimacy and emotion
Events are all about shared experiences, connecting people and prompting an emotion. So expect to see innovation on the emotional front. Take Mastercard, which recently trialled audio-connected LED face masks at the Brit Awards that respond to music and sound in real time, by lighting up. It’s one example of how technology can bring music to life at an event, making the experience more personal and human. It’s also a playful take on the face mask and with everyone now used to wearing one, it’s a fun way for people to express themselves at events that works on a practical level too. Tapping into emotions in your voice is also an interesting concept; Spotify has patented emotional speech recognition and in the near future it could suggest songs based on the emotion in your voice.
Break the mould
Technology is enabling brands to shake up various industries - Mazda did just that with a 4D/VR experience we devised, which placed consumers in the driver’s seat rather than following the sector’s focus on driverless cars. ‘Drivers’ set off on an exhilarating ride from Iceland to The Alps, with the experience mixing real life footage with a virtual cockpit, and making the fun of the ride come alive through the senses.
When IRL met VL
Social distancing may be in place for some time or some people may just wish to hold off attending events in person. So think about a micro-brand experience, where smaller numbers can experience the event in real-life, while the event is amplified, in real time, to a bigger, virtual audience. You can use pre-recorded content online, or make the in-person setting/content more engaging, by using 3D mapping or augmented reality.
Think like an entertainment business
With so many demands on our time (even when we’ve been working from home) content has to be engaging to be seen and listened to. So what can brand experiences learn from the world of entertainment? Bringing high-definition production-style credentials to your experiences will enhance the content and engagement, making it akin to a broadcast. Think razor-sharp images, enhanced lighting and powerful Dolby Stereo-type sound effects.
Hybrid is here to stay
In 2020 we had no choice but to go virtual, but there’s no going back now: the key is to use hybrid experiences to create content that delivers innovative and personal campaigns. With livestreaming technologies, real-time viewing has taken on a whole new meaning - consumers expect to be part of an experience even when they are not there. So think about interactive touchpoints - at a product launch for example, why not give attendees the chance to buy the product there and then, find out more about it or unlock exclusive content. Livestreaming can also help get your content out to a wider audience. Defected Records reached millions through live streaming and created a campaign with Heineken that smashed expectations - delivering engagement figures of 58.3 million. This would have been impossible to imagine and achieve with a live in-person event.
Hybrid is here to stay, and the brands that will stay ahead are those that understand how technology can create warmer, closer and stronger audience relationships.