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How to Plan Your Conference Advertising Strategy

July 10, 2023

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many B2B advertisers have shifted their strategies. Less of their target audience visit the office regularly. Many companies engage less with business travel in favor of remote meetings.

But there is still a great way to reach your business prospects through Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising. Many people still attend conferences. In January 2023, a record-breaking 115,000 people attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Over 50,000 attendees plan to be at the AWS conference this December. In this article, you will learn best practices for conference advertising campaigns. You'll learn what outdoor advertising formats to consider. We'll show you how to follow your audience throughout their conference journey.

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Types of Conference Advertising Formats

There are a variety of OOH formats that support conference advertising. The event organizers handle booths, sponsorships, and advertising within the venue. But Advertisers can leverage several outdoor formats to reach conference attendees, including:

  • Large Formats: Bulletins, Digital Spectaculars, and Wallscapes on major highways that lead to the convention excite viewers while en route. Likewise, large formats can surround the conference.
  • Street Furniture: Street furniture near the conference center or hotels can reach audiences while riding or walking to their destination.
  • Ride Share and Taxi: Ride Share and Taxi Top digitals move throughout the city and can raise brand awareness. Interior taxi media, such as digital screens, allow audiences to interact with your brand while traveling to the hotel.
  • Sponsored Rides: Depending on the location, advertisers can wrap charter buses, double-deckers, pedicabs, or other branded vehicles. These vehicles can circle the convention and transport passengers. If you choose a transport vehicle with a dedicated route, ensure the conference is along that route. Depending on your chosen format, you can create custom routes that take your clients to a conference-related event or activity.
  • Mobile Billboards: Mobile Billboards run on custom routes to build a buzz around your brand.
  • Hotel Packages: While advertising is usually not allowed within the hotel itself, especially for larger hotel brands, sometimes hotels will allow advertisers to provide packages to conference attendees in their hotel rooms.
  • Airport Advertising: Digital screens in airports can reach your audience as soon as they arrive for the conference.
  • Transit Advertising: In densely populated cities where subway or light rail is the primary mode of transportation, advertising on subway cars and within the station can be very effective.
  • Experiential: Non-traditional OOH is very popular during events. Consider using street teams, food trucks, digital trucks, and unusual activations. You may be able to rent a footprint near the venue to create your own customized experiential space. It could include interactive games, a place to pick up swag, performers, or a pop-up lounge.
  • Mobile Retargeting: You can specify the target audience or event radius and serve ads during and a week after the event.

Creating an overall presence is essential if you want to be associated with an event. Because conference advertisers often only want a week of advertising, most opt for digital formats. This provides the flexibility to buy for one week without associated production costs. Depending upon your goals and budget, you may opt for big, bold formats or need to be more creative and specific.

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Building a Conference Advertising Strategy

Many advertisers are involved with conferences, and it can be hard to stand out. Using OOH as part of your strategy makes your brand unavoidable. People are out and about, walking to their hotel, the conference, dinners, and happy hours.

The most crucial part of building a stand-out conference advertising strategy is to follow the customer's journey. You'll want to target the areas they are going to.

Imagine this. Conference travelers arrive at the airport and see your ads on digital screens in the baggage claim area and along their path to exit the airport. Baggage claim ads can be less popular for conference advertising. Many short-term business travelers may prefer to avoid the hassle of checked bags. But many airports route all passengers through baggage claims even if they have no checked bags.

From the airport, they need to get to their hotel room. Depending upon the market, they will likely take a taxi, rideshare, or some form of transit. Imagine them seeing your wrapped taxi or taxi top ad. They view and interact with your content while riding to their destination. Then they see Digital Billboards with your brand as they move along the route to the hotel. When they arrive at the hotel, they notice Street Furniture. They see Urban Panels, News Racks, and Digital Shelters that communicate your message. After they have checked in at the hotel, they go to the conference.

While walking or taking transit to the conference, they see more signs advertising your brand. Maybe a form of way-finding associated with it says, "This way to the conference," or "Visit us at Booth 154." Stay within a tight half-mile radius from the conference. This creates a strong association with the conference and ensures you hit your target audience. You can also pick transit stations where people are likely to disembark for the event. Create a station domination or wrapped Subway cars and other advertisements.

You can also consider other Points of Interest(POI) near the event. When people travel for conferences, they often will take time to explore the city. They will likely dine out, or go to conference-sponsored events in the area. Research what conference-sponsored events may be happening and target areas near those events. Sometimes advertisers will place their OOH near popular tourist attractions, but they shouldn't rely heavily on that unless the attraction is really close to the venue. Popular eateries and bars near the venue are other common places for Conference OOH advertising.

After the conference ends, if you do a mobile retargeting campaign, they will continue to be exposed to your message and reminded of your brand.

Following an intelligent OOH strategy that fits your goals and budget enhances brand recall and recognition. If you are a competitor with a conference or their sponsored brands, having OOH present at the event can help you play a part. Surround the event to turn attention away from your competitors towards your brand.

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Conference Advertising Best Practices

Here are six best practices for planning Conference advertising:

  1.  Plan Ahead: Inventory is usually bought up to a year in advance. If you wait until right before the conference, premium inventory will be taken already. One best practice is buying six months to a year in advance for large conferences and three months for smaller ones.
  2.  Budget Appropriately: More advertisers will compete for space, and prices will likely be higher. Also, consider that some formats are typically bought in 4-week buys. If you only want your ad to run for one week, you will likely see high premiums for shorter flights.
  3.  Be Careful with Programmatic: Programmatic is often remnant space left over after certain advertisers have paid for the units. Specific units are not guaranteed. For significant events, the best programmatic buys will likely be sold out.
  4.  Make sure your ads stand out: You will be facing competition for gaining space and attention. Other advertisers, even some competitors, will be vying for your audience's attention. Use creative, messaging, and placements your audience will surely see and resonate with.
  5.  Follow the attendees' path: You have a specific demographic you are trying to reach for conference attendees. Run your placements a bit before the conference starts to a bit after it ends. Follow the consumer's natural path from the airport to the hotel to the conference. Consider any additional events, happy hours, or dinners that may occur throughout the event.
  6.  Be aware of rules and regulations: Some markets may not allow advertising too close to the event venue or may have different OOH opportunities. Make sure you research and plan your market to understand available opportunities.

Work with Billups to Reach Conference Attendees

At Billups, we are solely dedicated to outdoor advertising. Our OOH media specialists have in-depth knowledge of markets. We work with you to understand your objectives and budget. We help you strategize the most effective campaign. We want to help you plan and execute your next conference advertising campaign. Reach out to learn more!

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