Blog Post

Experiential Trends to Watch in 2016

January 25, 2016

Keep a close eye on these experiential marketing trends that will continue to grow in 2016.

Increased budgets

It’s clear that CMOs are shifting larger amounts of their budgets toward experiential, just exactly how much is yet to be seen however. Over the last three years experiential budgets have increased over 6% on average (7.9% in 2013, 5% in 2014 and estimated 6.1% in 2015 per EMI’s EventTrack study), so another increase is expected. As marketers continue to integrate experiential into their overall strategy, you can expect more and more money to be directed that way.

Proving ROI

With increasing experiential budgets there’s also a growing importance on proving your event marketing ROI. CMO’s are demanding more accountability from their marketing activities and experiential is no different. Accurate ROI data is a critical factor that helps you make more informed decisions regarding your future activations. For example, in the past decisions on what events to participate in were largely anecdotal (attending because you have in the past, or organizers predicted a certain size/type of audience), but accurate event ROI can help you make more informed strategic decisions. Additionally, a truly holistic ROI attribution model needs to take into account all of your marketing efforts, including; experiential, digital, TV, direct, etc. It’s nearly impossible to accurately measure the impact of your experiential unless you are matching actual post-event sales to consumers that you connect with at events.

Experiential as a Content Driver and Marketing Core

Experiential is trending upward in a big way, and is becoming a central core and content driver for some of the world’s biggest brands. For example, think about Bud Light taking over Crested Butte, Colorado for Whatever, USA. That experience was the core theme of nearly all Bud Light marketing across all platforms (digital, TV, radio, OOH, print, etc.), earning it countless industry awards. This will be a continuing trend, using experiential to create content that is distributed via other marketing channels. Experiential is still about influencing the event attendees, but now it’s also about creating an entire brand image and core messaging for the brand’s multichannel media outreach.

Advanced Activation Tools

There’s now a seemingly endless stream of front-end activation tools. Many of these have been around on the fringes of experiential for several years but are now really gaining wide-spread acceptance. One of the more noteworthy technologies at the moment is Oculus (Virtual Reality). Oculus allows you to transform into a 3D world, living out experiences that consumers normally don’t have access to. This can include skydiving (which can be made “4D” if you implement a fan or other external sensations into the activation), calling balls and strikes in a baseball simulation or even driving your favorite sports car. Another fun activation tool is the Kinect from Microsoft. Developers have been able to take the Kinect sensor and build fun interactive games that allow consumers to physically control characters or movements in a video based game.  Generally speaking, brands that can engage their attendee’s senses are going to create the strongest bonds with consumers. For this reason, look for front-end tools that appeal to more than just consumers visually, adding touch, feel, smell etc. into the mix to build deeper connections.

Event Owners Putting in Their Own Systems

Brands have been embracing event technology more and more each year, but now more event and venue owners are starting to get into the action. The Chicago Auto Show (CAS) for example is now testing out a beacon platform to use show-wide, offering data to all of the participating brands. The CAS is using a compelling mobile app and free Wi-Fi to engage with consumers, giving them access to opt-in only information, which they can share with their exhibitor brands.

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