The future of in-person business has become uncertain since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the necessity of social distancing. In light of this, a recent report [download page] from The 614 Group outlines what marketers and advertisers think an alternative future, without various facets of in-person business, could look like.
The survey of just less than 350 executives reveals that half (50.7%) think that in the future all live events will have a virtual dimension. Although some uncertainty remains, with 18% of respondents claiming that it’s too soon to tell and one-fifth (21.5%) who aren’t sure, a clearer picture is beginning to form of how businesses will adapt to the new normal.
A Vision For the Future
Respondents’ thoughts on the nature of future events and the likelihood of certain elements of events help to build this picture. The majority of respondents (62%) think it is very likely that global virtual events will involve live video feeds from headliners speaking about big issues. In addition, 6 in 10 (59%) believe it’s very likely that virtual events will be designed to foster community and share thought leadership among defined groups of experts and specialists.
Meanwhile, half (51%) think it’s very likely that in the future there will be virtual events designed to foster global communities of experts, and only slightly fewer (47%) believe it very likely that virtual networking events connecting businesses and prospects will be a regular occurrence. Fewer respondents think that AR or VR will be built into virtual experiences to demonstrate products (24.4%) and that virtual cocktail hours (15.5%) or virtual client dinners (10.9%) will regularly occur.
What are Professionals Missing?
Each of these potential virtual developments will go some way toward replacing what professionals value most in face-to-face business. For the largest share of respondents (37.1%), the #1 primary function of event attendance is meeting new business prospects and generating leads, the loss of which could be eased to some extent by virtual networking.
Indeed, many of the primary functions of event attendance cited by respondents (multiple responses accepted) have the potential to be replaced by virtual interactions – such as learning the latest industry developments (67.9%), the opportunity to close deals (37.6%) and displaying products to large numbers of people (28.3%).
Granted, when it comes to the more social aspects of events such as quality time with clients (56.3%) and social time with peers (44%), it may be up to the individual to decide whether virtual interaction will suffice. In fact, simple human contact was the most commonly cited element of face-to-face contact that respondents miss. However, the recent rise in the use of video and conference call platforms among consumers suggests that virtual alternatives could be viable in this regard, at least to some degree.
Read the full report here.
About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 343 executives from ad agencies, marketing, publishers, ad tech, and other marketing and advertising disciplines.