Navigating the now:
As the pandemic takes hold and the lockdown extends, experiential marketing has had to go through a swift hard reboot. And that is no surprise, because human engagement itself has changed dramatically. The one on one and one to many in the real world has been replaced with the one on one and one to many in a virtual world.
We are no longer meeting in schools or colleges, offices or co-working spaces, malls, multiplexes or maidaans. Real venues have been replaced by virtual ones. Zoom, Teams, Blue Jeans, Skype, Hangout, Whatsapp and messenger, the list of digital venues seems endless, much like our world a few weeks ago.
Experiential marketing has had to adapt to this new reality, the playground is now exclusively digital, at least for now. And the more time one spends in this world, one is reminded that it is not very different from the real world. Digital allows us to engage directly with consumers and engage with them in a manner that encourages participation and co-creation. Some may even argue that the digital world makes collaboration and co-creation easier.
The most obvious and immediate shift for experiential marketing was changing real world interactions into digital engagements. Countless conferences and congregations went online. The webinar, an already popular tool in the teaching community for more than decade, became a favoured engagement tool and video enterprise chat got rediscovered.
Music performances on social platforms has become a daily occurrence. From solo music stars to collectives coming together to support causes and charities. Almost every social platform has its roster packed with music-based engagements, many of which have brand integrations. In fact, if you wanted to schedule a digital concert today, chances are you wouldnât find an open date till May 3!
A lot of what was happening around us had been hidden in plain sight for so long, one had chosen not to take notice. The digital conferences, the webinars and digital concerts have always been around. What we are seeing is the proliferation of these engagements because of the limitation forced upon us by the pandemic.Â Â
The past weeks have seen a surge in innovative ways of using these existing technologies. We have seen some extremely interesting examples of ingenuity in experiential engagements. Zoom has been used as a platform to stage live plays. A mobile phone company allowed digital attendees to unbox the product virtually and we have seen some very interesting use cases of augmented reality to aid awareness about health and hygiene.
The experiential solutions being deployed range from Google lens that allows static print ads, logos or any brand property to become interactive to the MyGov Whatsapp Bot, which is on the frontlines of communication promoting Covid19 awareness.
From a celebrity video telling us how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to a health care professional educating people about the importance of hygiene in a gamified manner.
Not every experiential engagement online is delivered through an app, Video bots can be triggered by a simple phone call creating opportunities for very targeted engagement.
Experiential innovations are not limited to urban settings alone. We have very interesting use cases of technology and innovation across rural India. It is little surprise that here the mobile device becomes the digital âvenueâ of choice for engagement.
In a country where more than 30% of all internet search is voice based, we have seen tremendous innovation in the space of voice enabled engagements, especially in rural settings. Trends in the upsurge of voice search, growth in vernacular searches and mobile internet usage clearly indicate that voice is here to stay and will only get more prominent as medium for experiential engagement.
From the evolved NLP-led smart IVRS that allows for speech recognition and two-way multilingual communication to audio conferencing bridges like mSamvaad that allow as many as 25000 people to connect at the same time! Â A number that is larger than most large format events hosted in the country.Â This moderator-controlled platform is extremely effective in rural settings and perfect for creating virtual games and engagements to drive learning and awareness. With 25,000 people engaging at a single time, this is a very powerful platform for community building.
To end, I will go back to my favourite âgo toâ phrase nowadays, we are all in a digital bootcamp. The tools and the tech have been around for a while now, our audiences are discovering them and embracing them at scale and speed that has never been seen before. For an industry that is built on the premise of engaging with people we need to be where people are.
On the other side of a screen.
At least for now.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of BestMediaInfo.com and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)