How to use Digital to extend the Physical Experience

Insight | Published 30th March 2020


What is Digital Twinning?

A Digital twin is defined as a learning system of digital copies of assets that allows a user to experience these assets virtually and also provide the company with information on what to do with assets in the physical space to achieve a targeted outcome.

Digital twinning in the events world sees the creation of hybrid events where physical experience assets are replicated in the digital world through immersive content and creative technology. Partnered with an existing conference/expo, the aim for a digital twinned event is to broadcast a message to the world without sacrificing the interaction and engagement delegates need, and to keep that message perpetuated through the consumer psyche.

Hybrid events are a form of industry evolution. With 45% of the world online and businesses increasing their digital footprint in response to sustainability and end user demands, brands have been reviewing the potential of hybrid events for some years now. As with all evolutionary processes, it is only with extreme external pressures that big leaps forward occur and the recent buzz around virtual events in response to Covid-19 has companies wondering how they can combine them with their show programme to risk-proof 2021.

Why do they work?

Reach. Events and conferences can be repeated or extended to global audiences that are unable to attend the physical. Event networking is replicated with meeting notes capturing technology that repeats the sales process and provides teams with information they can analyse alongside their physical data.

Real time adaptation. A brand can create multiple versions of the same content – promo videos, white papers, webinars, holo- panel debates that are available on the physical.  Different people will consume information from varying types of media at multiple touchpoints and via different channels. What happens in the physical can be realigned in the virtual to repoint towards popular trends and areas of interest. Real-time positioning of content helps prospects minimize negative impacts, while maximizing opportunities.

Choice. By curating events with multiple options in the digital from data gathered in the physical, delegates can be motivated to get involved and stay connected. Specific broadcast content can be tailored for virtual attendees after assessing popularity in the physical. If the digital space stays relevant via viral messaging, there is an opportunity to create a community that shares content long after the event, much like the e-gaming evolution.

Visibility. Virtual events offer another acquisition channel for a company’s audience to discover their content and provides attendees with the option to consume the content over video, VR, AR and through digital spaces.

Longevity. Launching a new product at an event can create some serious buzz around a business. Product demonstrations and tutorials are also highly suited to the event space. However, once the physical event is over, the moment is too. By synchronising product launches across virtual events in different countries, the stimulation around a new product can be extended.

Data. A hybrid event can help businesses build their list of contacts as everyone online registers their interest. By recording the virtual event attendee experience, insights can be mapped and shared within the events team to help curate their next physical event, online post-event or offered as a gated asset on their website for other people to download.

Which events are suitable?

Conferences, employee engagement, product launches are the obvious first choices with conferencing tech and meeting applications already going through further stages of development to incorporate experiential elements. Online showrooms and experience centres will also be a natural fit with 3D content repurposed to create online digital spaces that can be experienced via AR and VR. Larger projects such as virtual events and interactive spaces that are overlaid over physical places and people will take more planning and investment - over the last two years we have built sixteen fully digitalised spaces for client Playtech - but once in situ can be used for multiple markets.

How can Digital Twinning help events for the future?

As a trend, we foresee digital twinning becoming first a priority for brands and then the norm for the world global show programme. With future developments in 5G and infrastructure, the development of internal brand event platforms will allow companies to roll-out a continuous flow of hybrid events with digital content extending the shelf life on a physical event. Once platforms are created, this allows a multitude of quick response events to be pulled together in reaction to tech advancements, end user desires and future world upheavals.

Brand commitment to sustainability policies will also be supported by digital twinning, where the event strategy is split between the physical and non-physical, realigning budgets to a greater % of output with zero carbon footprint.

Above the line marcom strategies have been struggling for some time with viral advertising via social media becoming increasing sought after. Digital experiences linked to social media outreach will be important in all advertising, and the ability to get two bites out of an event cherry will provide serious ROI in what could be a significant period of constrained marketing budgets

Content marketing as a primary lead generation tactic is going to increase in events, and as time and investment goes into engaging 3D content and CX, the medium by which it is delivered becomes less important as long as it reaches its target audience, leading to a blurring of output methods between the physical and virtual.

At 2Heads we believe human interaction will always be important and maybe after the pandemic more than ever as people buy people. However, with careful planning, the human rapport element of events can be recreated and prolonged through virtual scenarios that allow a 3-day show programme to continue in perpetuity. This is the power of digital twinning, a trend that has only just started to grow.

Sara Lilley | Head of Marketing