Marketers Love Virtual Events, But Engagement is Still A Challenge, Finds Kaltura Study

74% of marketers now view virtual events as the top priority for overall events strategy

Kaltura , the Video Experience Cloud, released a new report “The State of Events 2023”, a global survey on the state of events. This is the second annual report issued by Kaltura that assesses and analyzes the ever-changing events industry, following “The State of Events 2022” published last year.

Marketers are continuing to plan in-person, hybrid, and virtual events, but in terms of business priorities, virtual events take the top spot, with 74% of marketers stating that virtual events are most important for overall strategy, both this year and for the future. In-person events, however, are still driving clear value with 63% of marketers planning on hosting in-person events in the next 12-24 months. Despite the high number of marketers planning to do so, 59% clarified that if they had to, they would cancel the in-person event and focus on producing a virtual one.

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Despite the clear prioritization of virtual and hybrid events, organizers are still figuring out the best practices to keep participants engaged, with 42% of respondents ranking engagement as the top challenge for virtual events. Marketers are aware that virtual events lack the personal touch of in-person events. Their future goal is to find more ways to help attendees network during virtual events and experience an immersive virtual experience. When considering a virtual events platform, it’s not surprising that 43% of marketers say that robust engagement tools are their number one priority.

For attendees, the winning elements of virtual vs. in-person events are also clear. The report found that 44% of attendees find that educational sessions are most valuable in virtual or hybrid events. It remains clear that networking opportunities are the most significant advantage of in-person events, with 44% of respondents selecting networking as the top reason for attending.

“It has become abundantly clear that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay even with the full return of in-person events, so we now must look at how we can best optimize these experiences for attendees and organizers alike,” said Lisa Bennett, EVP Marketing at Kaltura. “For events to continue to generate attendee engagement, organizers will need to take a look at the strategic goals of each and every event, and find the ideal mix on the event spectrum.”

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Additional key findings from the report include:

  • Both in-person and virtual events share a second top challenge: production quality (43% for in-person and 44% for virtual events). This is closely followed by event content (42% of marketers across all formats).
  • The need for quality content and experience is similar no matter the event type, and at its core – content remains king
  • Marketers are optimistic about virtual event growth rates across the board, expecting significant growth in all areas of virtual events in 2023. ROI, budget, and networking are expected to grow by 12%, engagement by 13%, registrations by 14%, and attendance and lead generation by 15%. These estimates indicate a moderate but optimistic market outlook for virtual events, with marketers recognizing the market’s continuous growth and demand.
  • Attendance at in-person events still has not recovered, with 46% of marketers identifying attendance as the greatest challenge for in-person events.
  • 93% of marketers have, if necessary, plans in place to shift in-person events to virtual events.
  • Engagement tools are key in selecting an events technology platform. All-in-one solutions (42%) and integration capabilities (38%) are ranked highly as well.
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