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Event orchestration | 12 December 2019

12 Imaginative Events from Adweek

Jacob Thomas

Learn how Adweek, creator of one of the most popular advertising trade publications in the world, uses events to supercharge its content strategy.

Adweek is the second-largest advertising trade publication in existence. The New York City-based publisher has been covering diverse topics such as creativity, ad campaigns, and client-agency relationships since 1979.

But magazines and blog posts aren’t the only kinds of content that Adweek produces. It also hosts a slew of live events each and every year.

In this article, we’ll look at 12 imaginative events from Adweek and tease out the key takeaways that make them so successful. You can apply these lessons to your own event marketing efforts. Let’s get started!

1. Brandweek

Brandweek - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

Brandweek isn’t a conference, it’s a movement that aims to address the future of brands. Its organizers invite senior executives and emerging talent to come together in Palm Springs, CA and explore topics such as emerging technologies, the future of media and commerce, and much more. The 2020 event will feature keynote speeches from actor and comedian Kevin Hart, inspirational speaker and acclaimed author Tony Robbins, and executives at some of the world’s top brands like IBM, Spotify, and Target.

Key Takeaway: If you only get one thing right at your next event, make sure it’s the speakers. A slate of amazing keynote addresses will entice your target audience to attend your conference, training seminar, or trade expo and ensure they leave with valuable knowledge.

2. Adweek NexTech

AdWeek NexTech - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

Want to learn about the future of digital advertising? Sounds like the Adweek NexTech would have been the perfect conference for you! Adweek organized this two-day event in 2019 to address new technologies and how they affect brands, publishers, and agencies in unique ways. Attendees learned technological best practices from leaders at Google, AT&T, Microsoft, and other well-known brands, while also getting numerous chances to network with other event-goers. All in all, the conference was a smashing success.

Key Takeaway: Technology is at the heart of just about everything we do. And your guests will favor and prioritize technology at the various conferences and trainings that you plan. Not only will this strategy encourage ticket sales — who doesn’t want to learn about the latest and greatest gadgets in their industry? — it will also ensure effective event branding as attendees begin to associate your company’s events with cutting-edge information.

3. Adweek Elevate

Source: Twitter

Adweek Elevate is an event series that has covered diverse topics such as creativity, artificial intelligence, and influencer marketing. Every Elevate event shares relevant information and actionable takeaways with attendees and gives them plenty of opportunities to meet and network with each other. The list of speakers is always exemplary as well and has included professionals from IBM, HBO, and IHOP in the past.

Key Takeaway: Why plan a single event when you can plan a whole event series or roadshow tour? While this strategy does require more effort and resources to pull off, it’s easier than planning multiple one-off gatherings every year. Why? Because the format and/or content remains the same for each event! Consider hosting an event series or roadshow and watch your event ROI rocket upwards.

4. Adweek Ignite

AdWeek Ignite - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

Adweek Ignite is “where deals get done.” The conference was all about bringing people together and allowing them to network with each other. In fact, many attendees praised the event for giving them opportunities to meet other folks they likely wouldn’t have been able to associate with previously. But relationship-building wasn’t the only focus of Adweek Ignite. Educational content from leaders at Zappos and Facebook was also shared.

Key Takeaway: Let’s be honest, hosting events is time-consuming and expensive — at least if you plan to host your event correctly. How can your company offset such enormous costs and ensure its yearly budget isn’t blown in one long weekend? The answer is event sponsors. Adweek did an amazing job of securing sponsorships for its Adweek Ignite event. Brands like Visa and Taboola chipped in financially to make the event a success. You should use the same strategy for your events! Find a few sponsors, offer them valuable brand awareness opportunities, and charge them a fair price to participate.

5. Adweek Editors Meet and Greet

AdWeek Editors Meet and Greet - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

Adweek periodically hosts Editors’ Meet and Greet events. The one we’ll be talking about today took place at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV on January 8th, 2019. Those who already planned to attend CES were also given the opportunity to mingle with Adweek editors in an intimate setting. In fact, Adweek only made so many tickets available, adding an air of exclusivity to the gathering.

Key Takeaway: Contrary to what you might think, exclusivity when it comes to events isn’t always a bad thing. By limiting the number of people who can attend your conferences, training seminars, and trade expos — or even making them invite-only affairs — you’ll increase anticipation and potential attendees will likely be willing to pay more for tickets. Consider making your next event exclusive and enjoy the excitement that follows.

6. Challenger Brands Summit

Source: Twitter

The Challenger Brands Summit is an annual event that takes place in New York City. Its purpose? To explore the future of brands through insightful speeches from professionals at leading companies on topics like eCommerce, live marketing, and user experience. There are 12 different conference tracks for event-goers to choose from, many interactive breakout sessions to participate in, and numerous networking sessions to attend.

Key Takeaway: Adweek works hard to ensure the information delivered at Challenger Brands Summit is actionable. Attendees don’t learn high-concept strategies at this event. Just solid, in-the-trenches kind of tactics that they can use immediately to improve their companies. This is exactly the kind of information you should strive to share at your events as well. If you can help your guests sooner rather than later, they’ll continue coming to your events.

7. Convergent TV Summit

Convergent TV Summit - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

On October 22nd, 2019, Adweek held the Convergent TV Summit, aimed at educating publishers and marketers on the quickly changing TV industry. In case you haven’t noticed, streaming services are all the rage right now. From industry veterans like Netflix to newcomers like Disney Plus, it seems like every business wants a piece of the pie. Convergent TV Summit cut through the noise and taught attendees how to navigate this new TV landscape.

Key Takeaway: One of the many highlights at the Convergent TV Summit was the numerous networking opportunities that Adweek facilitated. Yes, your guests want to hear keynote speeches and attend hands-on training sessions. But they also want the chance to meet other event-goers and to feel like they’re moving their careers forward in meaningful ways. If your events give attendees these kinds of vibes, they’ll consider the money they spent on tickets well-worth it.

8. Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Dentsu Inc.

Cannes Lions is one of the most recognizable event brands in the world of business conferences. Now in its 67th year, the gathering celebrates creativity in marketing and educates attendees on topics such as inclusivity, design, activism, art, and much more. While Adweek does NOT host this event, they do participate. Their events team was present at the 2019 gathering to connect with attendees, host educational workshops, and facilitate networking times.

Key Takeaway: Adweek’s presence at Cannes Lions is a great example of experiential marketing. By showing up to the event (even though they didn’t host it themselves) and creating educational and relaxation opportunities for guests, Adweek was able to connect with a new audience in a very real, tangible way. Look for ways that you can create fun and exciting experiences for your event attendees. This will keep them coming back to your conferences year after year.

9. Women Trailblazers

Women Trailblazers - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

The annual Women Trailblazers event is where “executive decision-makers gather to celebrate and learn from the influential women who are leading the charge of cultural change in the worlds of media, marketing, entertainment, technology, and sports.” Previous speakers at Women Trailblazers include Erin Andrews, a well-known broadcaster for Fox Sports; Alexa Bliss, a WWE superstar; and executives from companies like Pepsi, Twitter, and NASCAR.

Key Takeaway: Many companies, especially those just starting out with B2B event marketing, try to please as many people as possible with their conferences and seminars. They figure that the more inclusive their event is, the more people will attend, and the more successful it will be. But sometimes, this can lead to bland programming that doesn’t help anyone do anything because the information shared is too vague. Instead, take the opposite approach and consider hosting events for specific demographics like Adweek has done for women. It will allow you to cater your content to specific groups of people and connect with them on deeper levels.

10. TrueX Dinner and Conversation

TrueX Dinner and Conversation - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

From time to time Adweek hosts Dinner and Conversation events. The format is generally the same: attendees arrive, share a meal, mingle with Adweek staff members and other guests, and listen to an intimate fireside chat from an Adweek partner company. The latest Dinner and Conversation event was a collaboration with TrueX, a leading engagement advertising platform.

Key Takeaway: If you’re looking for new corporate event ideas, take a good long look at partnership events. What’s a partnership event? An event that’s planned and executed in conjunction with another brand. The benefits of these kinds of gatherings are numerous. But the two most important advantages are the fact that the event workload will be shared between two teams and the chance your company has to introduce itself to new audiences.

11. Adweek Winners’ Circle

AdWeek Winners' Circle - AdWeek Event MarketingSource: Adweek

Adweek loves its award shows. The company hosts multiple gatherings of this nature every year. But the highlight is always the Winners’ Circle event, which gathers the year’s top award winners for a festive evening of celebration.

Key Takeaway: The Adweek Winners’ Circle event reminds us that it’s always the right time to treat your customers right. Whether you do so by recognizing them in a very public way for their achievements or you simply offer your top customers a discount on next year’s conference tickets, honor your tribe and they’ll honor you by attending your events and telling their friends and colleagues to do the same.

12. Adweek Webinars

Source: Twitter

Finally, we have Adweek webinars, a collection of digital events that the publishing company hosts on a regular basis. At the time of this writing, Adweek was set to soon host webinars on social analytics, live experiences, and the art of marketing experimentation. Though these webinars are free to attend, they give viewers a lot of quality information.

Key Takeaway: In-person events are important, but digital gatherings like Adweek’s webinars are an increasingly valuable event option. They tend to be much cheaper to produce and allow companies to reach folks who are unable to attend their in-person gatherings.

Main Takeaways: Host an Adweek-Worthy Event

Adweek excels at live event planning, marketing, and execution. There’s so much that could be learned by studying the publisher’s event strategy. But here are a few main takeaways that you can use to improve your own corporate event management efforts:

  1. Get the Main Details Right: It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of event planning — there are so many details to keep track of! But really make sure that the main tentpoles of your events (the speakers, sponsors, content, and networking opportunities) are well-planned.
  2. Allow Your Inner Creative to Shine: One of the reasons why Adweek’s events are so revered is because the publisher goes out of its way to push boundaries. Do your best to host a variety of event types and always look for new and exciting event ideas.
  3. Invest in the Right Technology: Technology is essential to the Adweek events game plan. In fact, they even have an entire event, Adweek NexTech, dedicated to the topic. From event software to digital conferences, embrace technological advances whenever possible.

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