Canadian Magazine Industry News
3 June 2009,     TORONTO
Mags U Review, part three: Getting a piece of the virtual action
The number of magaziners attending conferences this week shows that demand for face-to-face events still exists (for example, registration for MagNet is up 60% over last year, according to Magazines Canada). That said, the virtual events market has grown exponentially; over the last few years, California-based Unisfair has partnered with publishing companies such as Taunton Media, Haymarket Media Group and Rogers Publishing Ltd. on profitable virtual events and on Tuesday at Mags U, Stu Schmidt, vice president of global sales and services for Unisfair, offered information and advice to publishers looking to get a piece of the virtual action.

Stu Schmidt
Running a virtual event with Unisfair requires a minimum investment of US$25,000. Unless you're offering a measurable diploma or certificate of some kind, no one is going to pay to attend, so the revenue has to come from sponsors.

The plus side is that the data and leads sponsors can gather from virtual events is typically much richer than what they can get from live events.

According to a study on virtual events conducted by FactPoint Group and cited by Schmidt, the average virtual event gets about 3,000 registrants and about 1,587 of those people actually "attend." On average they stick around for two hous and 31 minutes. Sponsors, meanwhile, get an average of 348 leads per event.

Sponsors set up virtual tables where attendees can look at information about the company or chat with a staff person. The sponsors get access to the full profile of everyone who vists their booth.

On the content side, virtual events, like live events, are filled with seminars and presentations, as well as organized networking opportunities. The presentations can include a video, or they can be audio-only, and they can be archived for up to 90 days (or longer if you pay more). Attendees can connect with one another through chat rooms and forums and they can also search out people in similar jobs or with similar interests.

Schmidt says there's also a new trend emerging in virtual events: permanent virtual spaces.
— M.U.
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