Virtual events and interactions - GlobalWebIndex Trend report 2020
This GlobalWebIndex trend report gathered its data from online research that was carried out among internet users aged 16 to 64 across 46 markets, including 1,001 respondents in the UK in May 2020. It looked at the way the pandemic changed how different age groups interact with and perceive technology, audiences expectations about virtual events and the monetisation of digital. You can read the summary and main findings below or download the full report.
Has Covid-19 reduced the ongoing frustration with technology?
Previously described as harmful to mental health, technology is now seen in a more positive light. It has been our primary tool of communication through the pandemic. Data shows that statements such as “Technology makes life more complicated” and “I just don’t understand computers and new technology” were not rated as high as before lockdown and proved to be less popular since the first cases of coronavirus.
Since the outbreak began, 2 million people have joined more than 2,000 local COVID-19 community support groups, which shows how instrumental virtual spaces have been for combating feelings of fear and loneliness.
Are virtual interactions here to stay?
Tech literacy will be less of a barrier going forward. Older respondents who said they don’t understand computers and new technology are actually more likely than the average internet user to find online encounters just as valuable as in-person ones, and 55% of them expect to continue communicating online once restrictions are lifted.
It was also found that younger segments Gen Z and millennials are much more likely than their older counterparts to feel more confident expressing themselves and having intimate conversations online as opposed to face-to-face.
What do consumers expect from virtual events?
When we look at the data, 8 in 10 respondents said they had attended at least one virtual event during lockdown. In the UK, 38% of Internet users watch live streams or virtual events on Youtube and 25% on Facebook Live. So there is definitely a demand from audiences and an opportunity for event makers.
However, virtual events should not be treated simply as digital equivalents of physical shows. Data shows that virtual event attendees want interaction, shared experiences and video quality more than anything else. It also shows that they are willing to accept a trade-off between ads and quality of experience, which means that sponsorship as a monetisation strategy could be an income avenue although it would have to be kept at a minimum.
How can virtual events be monetised?
Although virtual events can’t be priced like traditional physical events, they have another advantage: their reach. Unlike physical events, they don’t have limits on capacity, age or location. However, ticket sales are not the only revenue stream possible online. This research shows that donations and merchandise selling have been keeping virtual events afloat, with younger consumers (Gen Z and millenials) being at the forefront of supporting performers.
How can the events industry adapt to a socially distanced future?
Echoing our own research with After the Interval, a majority of audiences are not quite ready yet to go back to indoor venues. In this research, 6 out of 10 said they won’t return to both large outdoor and indoor venues for some time or for a long time. On the plus side, there is a growing support from audiences of alternative endeavours involving social distancing measures and other creative solutions such as drive-in events. Unfortunately, we know reduced capacity means a profit will hardly be generated from such events. The solution to profitable socially distanced live events will be a combination of virtual and physical performances.