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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - August 2020

2021 and forward: What is the future of events for publishers?

Back in 2019, everyone in the media industry was talking about events as one of the next big focus areas for publishers. Then 2020 happened. We got a worldwide pandemic, which completely shut down the event industry and suddenly, we all had to come up with new ways of doing this.

The result has been astonishing. In just three months, many publishers have managed to redefine events, and many have even reported improved success over what they had before.

Don't get me wrong. Physical events will return as well, but we are now seeing so many new ways of doing this that the future looks amazing.

What has happened is that publishers have jumped five years into the future. The way publishers are talking about events today is more like what we would expect in the year 2025. But we are doing it now, and even during a pandemic.

There are still a lot of things that don't work, but this is very exciting.

So, in this 25-page article, I'm going to talk about this trend from a future perspective. I'm not going to focus on what is happening right now in 2020 or talk about COVID-19, I'm going to jump ahead into 2021 and talk about what all this means for the future.

Physical events are great, but for a limited audience

Let's start by talking about physical events. As I said in the beginning, physical events will return, and they will be an important part of publishers' revenue portfolio, so it is relevant to talk about what makes them so great, but also what limits them.

So what makes physical events so good?

Well, like anything else, it's not just one thing but a number of key factors. On the top of this list is that it's an event.

This might seem obvious, but think about how important this part really is. An article can never be an event, a podcast is not an event, even a more specific publishing product, like when a fitness site creates training plans that people can follow live ... that too is not really an event.

A physical event is a higher form of media. It needs much higher value than anything else you do, it has to have enough 'content' for people to invest their time and money in it, and it's condensed into an extremely focused time, like an afternoon, a full day, or even several days or a week where people do nothing but spend time with your event.

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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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