Monetizing Digital Events is More Complex than Selling Banner Ads

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The following is a guest post by Michelle Bruno of Bruno Group Signature Events. I’m an avid reader of Michelle’s Fork in the Road blog, which always manages to spur thoughts and ideas about the meetings and events industry. Follow Michelle on Twitter: @michellebruno.


Monetizing a.k.a. earning revenue (and hopefully a profit) from a digital event begins long before the event. Monetization is a goal — albeit a critical one — that requires a strategy. It isnot simply a utilization of inventory, such as banner ads, marquee messages and digital briefcases. As with any business model, monetization involves the assessment and fulfillment of the buyers’ needs.

The Types of Buyers

Essentially there are three types of buyers associated with a digital event:

  1. Attendees (even if they don’t pay to view the event, they are a critical component in the monetization formula)
  2. Sponsors
  3. Exhibitors (if there is a “trade show” feature).

In broad terms, each group has different objectives for the return on digital participation.

Attendees need content

Attendees are looking for:

  1. A frictionless way to remotely experience content
  2. Affirmation that their attendance is a worthwhile use of their time (certification in some cases)
  3. Connections with other participants
  4. Recognition for their contributions (acknowledgement in Q & A sessions, responses to questions to exhibitors)
  5. Some level of transformation (the impetus for doing something differently as the result of attending).
Sponsors need data

Sponsors seek:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. A reinforcement of messaging
  3. Business intelligence on attendee demographics, behaviors and preferences (a sweet spot for digital platforms)
  4. In some cases, actual engagement with attendees (banner click throughs or game play).
Exhibitors need leads

Exhibitors want:

  1. Qualified leads for the sales funnel
  2. One-to-one opportunities to engage attendees (live chat)
  3. Ways to deliver sales materials to prospects
  4. Data on attendees who visit their booths
  5. Tools for placing leads directly into their CRM systems.

If the needs of all three buyer groups are met, monetization can result. But, fulfillment of these needs requires a keen understanding of, for example, the type of content that attendees will respond to, the metrics that sponsors require and the profile of attendees that are ready to buy.

Whatever discussions, research, data mining, social media analysis, crystal ball consultations or Gypsy medium divinations event organizers use to arrive at this information should be completed long before any discussion of banner ad revenue.

Upcoming Webcast on Digital Event Monetization

On May 8, 2012, we’ll be hosting a Live Webcast on digital event monetization, featuring speakers from American Marketing Association (AMA) and BNP Media. Click the button below for more information.

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About the Author

Michelle Bruno is a writer, blogger, and meeting professional. She develops content and content strategies at Bruno Group Signature Events. She currently writes about social media, technology and face-to-face meetings at the “Fork in the Road” blog ( and for She is a writer for IAEE’s (International Association for Exhibitions and Events) publication Newslines and is the co-producer of the EastVirtual Event Workshop on virtual and hybrid events.