When it comes to online, virtual and hybrid experiences, we’ve seen years of innovation compressed into just six months. With Coronavirus putting a pause on in-person events, event planners have been bringing the future forward to engage customers online with interactive experiences.

In a world where pre-recorded content abounds on sites like YouTube, event attendees and consumers are seeking out live, interactive and sometimes personalized experiences. These experiences include multiple formats be it live stream, webinar, virtual conference, hybrid events or just plan old video conferencing.

Event organizers at brands of all sizes are adapting in real time to the changing environment to take advantage of this and reaching new audiences and virtual attendees in new segments and geographies.  

180 virtual event ideas and counting

The AnyRoad team has been compiling and analyzing online experiences since the start of the pandemic. We’ve tracked over 180 online events and experiences and this number is growing.

We’ve been able to examine general trends and surface insights for our customers. If you would like to discuss in more detail, just reach out and we’d be happy to dive deeper into the content.

To access the data, click here or on the image below.

Above: Click on the image above to access the full list of experiences in a public Google Sheet.

What’s the most popular virtual event platform?

In regards to online platforms, Instagram and Zoom are neck and neck when it comes to popularity. ahead of Facebook and YouTube as well as a long tail of other platforms including Twitch.

Our research has seen some brands have opted for custom platforms for unique experiences like online auctions but the majority have been drawn to the platforms listed below.

It’s interesting to note that platform use varies by industry. For example, Retailers prefer Zoom while Food & Beverage prefer Instagram Live. 

And if you change the type of event to more private or intimate events, such as a birthday party or private distillery tour, Zoom leads. 

Zoom and Instagram are the most popular online event platforms

Above: Zoom and Instagram are the most popular platform for digital events and experiences.

What online event format is most popular?

We’re seeing classes are starting to ease out activations as the most popular format for marketers. 

The reason for this is that classes work at many different stages of the funnel and production values can be lower. It’s an easy way to get started with online experiences and in a COVID world customers are craving the interactivity and gamification that classes provide. 

For example, Michaels has attracted over 200 thousand attendees to its online classes on subjects such as Cricut, Crochet and Painting. 

Classes are the most popular type of online event.

What industries are adopting online events?

Most industries have experimented with online events but at the top of the leaderboard with the most consistent adoption are CPG brands specifically Food and Beverage.

We suspect that this is because cooking classes and guided tastings have lower production values for live streaming and that there is surging demand from people who are cooking and drinking more at home. Guided tastings and classes can also include interactive components and gamification such as breakout sessions which give an opportunity for attendees to interact in a quasi face-to-face way.

One fun virtual event example of this was for Cinco de Mayo where Mario Lopez teamed up with Uber Eats and Chipotle for a happy hour to showcase how to make some of his favorite Cinco de Mayo recipes. This live event offered people the chance to enjoy a holiday tradition in the comfort of their home while learning some new tips and tricks from a celebrity.

Food and Beverage Brands are running the most online events

Free or paid?

Finally, the vast majority of online events are free but we’ve seen an increasing number of providers charge for premium experiences. 

Saying that, the charge for these experiences is often linked to a purchase of a sensory item such as wine for a wine tasting or sometimes to charitable donations in the case of political events.

An example of this would be a restaurant who would include a meal kit in the price of a ticket to a cooking class, engaging the guest by having them prepare food along with the chef presenting the class. 

Most virtual events are free

About Research

To review the data, visit here.

Methodology

  • Primary research – Social media listening, Hashtag search, Google Search, Trade publications (e.g. Adweek).
  • Proprietary research – Aggregated insights across all AnyRoad customers running online experiences.
  • Research conducted from February to August 2020

Assumptions & Biases

  • AnyRoad has a large customer footprint in Food & Beverage & Retail.
  • B2B examples such as trade shows were omitted for later analysis.
  • Emphasis placed on post-COVID experiences.

Contact moc @ anyroad.com if you have any questions or if you want to discuss ideas for your next virtual event.