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While the audience who turned out for EMS 2021 wasn’t as robust as in years past due to the restrictions and reticence around Covid-19, those who did make it to the high-profile event in Chicago were highly invested. They came with hopes for the future, lessons from the past and many, many questions. Especially around data analysis. Here, we chat with event attendee and Limelight Platform CEO Terry Foster about the insights discussed—and the implications for brands looking to make the most of experiential by collecting and leveraging the right data.
LL: You were in attendance for “Driving Actionable Insight through Context”, co-hosted by Garth Hill, Account Director of Meshh, a Limelight platform and leading provider of Spatial Analysis. What did you take away?
Terry: There was no massive sea change, but the number one thing that people were asking was, “How do you do it?” As an example, a brand manager stood up and asked, “I can see all the stuff you're doing here, and I like it, but how do we get these numbers?”
LL: The answer being?
Terry: Well, the answer is, you have to utilize a piece of tech, like Limelight or Meshh. There's no other effective way to measure ROI and derive actionable insights from events.
LL: Gone are the days of people clicking clickers and cobbling together disparate solutions.
Terry: Absolutely. It’s imperative to measure the full funnel. You can’t just obtusely measure the event as a whole, or what's happening in your general vicinity, you have to measure everything from attendees to attribution. Look, we've all been at trade shows. Let’s say your booth is at the entrance; you're the first booth people are going to walk by. But does that actually mean more footfall? Are you seeing your fair share of total attendees—or are you just looking at that total attendee number and guessing?
LL: That’s not relevant enough.
Terry: Exactly. Meshh enables you to measure the relationship between those who stop and engage versus those who just walk past. It provides context to interpret the data in a way that event operators and brands can action on at a deeper level.
LL: Context that they can use to modify their presence as needed. I’m thinking here of location, staff, activity, time and day, etc.
Terry: Yes, but also to make changes for next time. If you're spending $2 million dollars at CES and you're doing a number of these shows around the world, it's a considerable investment. You might have paid money to be on the podium or for premium placement etc. You need to know how to invest those dollars in a more intelligent way. You need that baseline, you need context, you need to see how it changes over time, and you need to be adapting to what the data reveals. What are these numbers actually telling you about your performance? How can and will you leverage that to your advantage?
LL: It provides experiential marketers with more control.
Terry: Yes, once you have your baselines, you can dig deeper and start to effectively measure and thus manage everything—leaving nothing to chance.
LL: So in terms of real-world applications, what’s their first step?
Terry: Experiential marketers can't just pitch up and see what happens. They have to be able to clearly articulate their strategy and more importantly the expected outcomes while also aligning their measurement strategy with those outcomes. It’s not a matter of the more data they have, the better, either. In order to have control over what they're doing, they have to measure what matters. Once they understand and relate the data points they are measuring, then they can take action and vastly improve ROI.
LL: When it comes to experiential strategies, what questions should marketers be asking themselves?
Terry: Are you doing XM to build relationships? To win hearts and minds? Or do you want to see immediate ROI? Does it lead to goodwill on the night, or goodwill overall? You need to lock that down first. And then you’ve got to use tech like Meshh to apply the right measurement strategy and glean those contextual insights. That’s how you’ll optimize experiences. That’s how you’ll better understand your conversion rates.That’s how you’ll drive more profitable outcomes from experiential.