In September alone we now have Ad Week Europe and ATS London clashing in the middle of the month, preceding Dmexco by just a week. There's going to be a lot of prioritising required as ad and marketing execs balance the day job with important industry events. It's going to be feel a little like what footballers are bound to soon experience. A month or two of treading water and then a frantic rush of activity to get the season finished.
I've been chatting to some of the adtech and martech firms who would normally be running partner days and rushing off to conferences at this time of year and there is a common picture. Nearly everyone has been on their way, or about to travel, to an event when either it was called off, flights were cancelled to the host city or their own company played it safe by banning foreign travel.
The other linking factor is webinars. Trust me, the period from April to May or June is going to be packed with these as vendors realise they cannot sit still and let their sales pipeline grind to a halt. The guiding philosophy is that there are going to be a lot of industry executives with freed up diaries over the next few weeks who may be asked to work from home. Put this availability together with a need for them to stay in touch and add that to tech vendors looking to throw some new names in the sales funnel, and the result is a season of webinars.
We're already seeing some major shows going online only or even launch as virtual conferences to take advantage of this move online. "The Drum" is a good example with the launch of its Digital Transformation Festival as a virtual conference today.
A couple of points arise from these calendar alterations. Not only are we going to see more webinars pop up, we're likely to see sponsors offered something that events have been struggling with recently -- sales leads. GDPR has had a massive impact on conferences. Email lists of attendees have been a major reason for why sponsors to sign up to shows and send people to give a speech detailing all their insider knowledge, in return for a route to the 100 or more people in front of them.
From what I understand, and it's not something the conference organisers in London are going to shout from the roof tops, this has been badly hit by GDPR. Whether it is shows not risking asking for the information or attendees opting out, email leads from sponsoring events have shrunk. However, sign up to a webinar and it is pretty well universally accepted that sales emails will follow up your virtual attendance. It could legally be put down to as a soft opt-in, or legitimate interests. Signing up to a webinar is effectively akin to handing over your email address to the organiser and sponsor.
The other impact is going to be a renewed interest in research and creating compelling content so there is a new story to tell in a webinar. People get fed up with familiar decks and so the people I've been speaking to realise they need to seriously up their research and content game over the next couple of weeks to be ready for, what is now surely going to be, webinar season.
So, expect the next couple of three months to be bristling with webinars from which, it can be assumed, there will be a flurry of content marketing to sweat those assets and get the resulting 'thought leadership' out there to a wider audience.
Digital advertising, one can assume, is going to take a massive hit as travel dials back activity and, presumably, automotive will soon follow. However, content marketing, and again this is an assumption, is almost certainly going to be see a massive uptick in the run up to summer.