Megan Gell
Nov 9, 2018

The science of content

Putting in place great content is one thing, but how do you know if it’s worked?

TEDxSydney monitored flow to different “tribes” during break-outs.
TEDxSydney monitored flow to different “tribes” during break-outs.

Measuring the impact of content is a crucial part of any event, whether you’re looking to boost purchase intent, change perceptions, or train new recruits. Gathering feedback will help assess whether the event has met its objectives, as well as informing future editions. 

“Collection methods include traditional pre- and post-event surveys, social media, observations, feedback forms, live intercept interviews, app and website data, smart phone recordings—even wristbands to record electro-dermal activity,” says Jessie States, head of meetings innovation, Meeting Professionals International (MPI).  

For conferences and corporate events, surveys remain a popular method for collecting data on the “success” of content.  

“We often advise our client to do a short, three-to-five question survey upon arrival and one right after the business session or conference with the same questions,” says Marine Debatte, head of events solutions—Asia Pacific, BI Worldwide. 

“Whether it’s on brand perception, business confidence, product knowledge or something else, this is a simple and efficient trick to measure the impact of what we just shared. For this, either tablets upon hotel check-in or directly on the event app—both have their advantages.”

Real-time data

Laura Roberts, managing director—Asia-Pacific, at global brand communications agency INVNT, says it’s also important to measure content in real time, even tweaking the programme as you go based on the results.

“Live polling tech allows us to gauge audience engagement and interaction with different event features such as panels and seminars, meanwhile social media traction is a great indicator of event success,” she says. 

“For example, if your dedicated event hashtag is trending, chances are it’s won the hearts and minds of your ‘live’ and ‘virtual’ audiences around the world.”

Roberts finds platforms that collate information about attendees’ personas and behaviour at events in real time to be highly effective. “At the recent TEDxSydney event we delivered, our team created a series of experiences referred to as ‘tribes’,” she says. 

“Attendees were encouraged to join the ‘tribes’ that they affiliated with. Data about which areas the individual attendee visited was compiled, enabling TEDx to use it to enhance the event for next time, as well as continue the conversation with visitors once the event had ended, by digitally sharing information about similar experiences in a highly targeted and personalised way.”  

While technology developed over the last decade has enabled real-time data collection, the next frontier is biometrics. 

“We also love biometrics, which provides real-time data on audience engagement,” says Roberts. “The use of biometrics is at a relatively infant stage, but soon it will become commonplace at events. 

“The integration of biometric readers, in the form of a wristwatch or badge, will allow organisers to track and measure real-time attendee engagement, allowing them to adjust and tweak content, mix up the music that is being played or use the data post-event to improve engagement. This could be through measuring people’s heart rate, body temperature, pupil dilation and so forth.” 

The next frontier

US-based facial recognition provider Kairos, offers these services to a range of clients, particularly those in the entertainment industry. 

“We help our customers uncover, through emotion and demographic analysis, the relationship their audiences have with the content they interact with, primarily video,” says Ben Virdee-Chapman, chief design officer and head of product and marketing, Kairos.

At Zenus, co-founder and president Panos Moutafis says planners can use the technology to “measure the effectiveness of a speaker/session, conduct more effective lead retrieval and scoring, and assess overall attendee happiness”, but warns there are challenges such as distances of attendees from the camera, variations in lighting and needing multiple frames per second in to monitor real-time emotional changes. 

“Zenus is currently piloting a specialised camera that scans peoples’ faces and instantly extracts their level of happiness,” he says.

Though facial and emotional recognition is in its early stages, providers are working to overcome the initial hurdles. “We’re mindful of the impact on the individual if they are being watched-as-they-watch,” says Virdee-Chapman. “Battling face recognition-enabled surveillance, culturally inaccurate algorithms, and an industry [historically] unable to keep itself accountable—are top of mind for Kairos right now.”

No matter how you choose to measure the impact of content, Selene Chin, managing director at Pico Pixel, encourages event organisers to consider any results as part of a more comprehensive analysis. 

“The effectiveness of a piece of content should ideally be measured in conjunction with many other facets of an event,” she says. “We need to consider the entire experience and content journey within the context of the event. We should go out of our way to collect a variety of feedback and data— behavioural data especially.

“Remember: content is an integral part of the whole. To try to separate it out and attribute a specific value to it is counter-productive, not to mention impossible.”


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