Digital Playbook

Late last night I received George P. Johnson and partners’ Digital Playbook. At first glance, it seemed like it had missed a few key elements. This morning our exec team reviewed the playbook in depth at our weekly process meeting and it proved to be a more interesting document than I had initially thought. There are some good talking points in there, and a it’s a good barometer of where event/exhibit marketing currently is, and where it’s going. More importantly, it speaks to one of our key focuses, and keeps it front and center in the minds of our clients – using data and analytics to improve your event experiences.

Most of the data was collected from surveys and while I’m always iffy on the reliability of this sort of qualitative analysis it can still provide some good insight. I think the goals of the document are fairly dead-on. It begins by defining some key words that are thrown around a lot of providing a more concrete definition to: Digital, Communication, Participation, and Propagation. This wholistic approach of viewing attendance engagement before, during, and after events is a a good start to trying to solve one of the bigger pain points of Event Marketing: extending the experience beyond the event. These aren’t that dissimilar to our metrics we use here at Helios to gauge active participants.

Some Expected Figures


of correspondents see an increase in their digital spend. Which can be compared to a 56% of respondents moving from traditional marketing to digital tactics. Digital has more defined metrics and data collection capabilities, that’s part of why broadcast is in decline.


expect to be integrating more with social media. This makes sense as it’s often one of the easier and farthest reaching ways to extend the experience beyond an event.

An issue I have is categorizing “Other Exciting Tech” to include Augmented Reality, Near Field Communication, Second Screen, and RFID. This implies that you would use these system for the novelty of something “new and exciting” but some of these approaches can prove to be quite effective in the right environment. Really the question is about content, and whether the matching tech makes sense.  It’s fairly tough to categorize, and hits close to home with the work we’re doing at Helios.

Overall it’s great to see these sort of documents get published. I can’t say enough about how this needs to be embraced by brand marketers everywhere – the landscape is changing and you need to adapt or be left behind. Hopefully these sort of idea starters can lead to a more standard definition of: active users, participants, and what success of an event looks like. Right now event marketing is still producing lot of vanity metrics, but moving forward I see the actionable metrics taking a much better foothold. It’s our industry moving more towards product design and iterative improvements and farther away from the Dinosaur age of advertising.