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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - May 2021

What if virtual events were not an event?

From a trend perspective, the pandemic has been a huge learning opportunity. Trends have shifted, they have accelerated, but they have also exposed the flaws.

One of the areas where this is most pronounced is with the virtual event market. Before the pandemic, this wasn't really that big of a thing, but then, as the pandemic hit, it became the thing that everyone did and the market was swamped.

In comparison to not being able to do anything, virtual events have worked great, but for most publishers, virtual events have been a struggle. They don't work the way we think they do, and now that the pandemic is coming to an end, the longevity of this focus is not that clear.

I have already talked about this at length. Back in August 2020, I wrote the article: "2021 and forward: What is the future of events for publishers?" A few months later, in November 2020, Marcela Kunova from and event organizer of Newsrewired, and I wrote "Let's talk about publishers and (virtual) events in 2021 and forward".

Both of these articles are still highly relevant and outline some of the key problems we face.

However, the more I think about this, the more I see a need for something entirely different. Too many virtual events feel like we are trying to place a square peg into a round hole. It doesn't quite work, and the whole experience is a bit awkward. And we instantly run into big problems like very low attendance rates.

One example is from WSJ, where they have learned that they will only get a 50% attendance rate on average. So if 1,000 people signed up for the event, only 500 people would show up. But these are actually good numbers, I have seen many examples of numbers that were far worse, sometimes all the way down to a 10% attendance rate.

Another big problem is longevity. Almost all virtual events today have zero longevity, meaning that once an event is over, they are likely to get no more views from it (in any substantial way), even if they make the recordings available afterwards.

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What is Baekdal?

Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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