Promote and Profit Off Your Virtual Events with Retargeting Ads


March 12, 2021

Kate Dodd

Kate Dodd EVP, Marketing

As the novelty of virtual and hybrid events wears off, one thing that will also mature is the monetization models that will keep them effective over the long term. Some revenue generators translate fairly well to the digital space, while others will need to develop.

One element of promoting and profiting from events that does translate well to into the virtual environment is retargeting. If you’ve been using retargeting for in-person events, the concepts are essentially the same. If you haven’t been using retargeting, now is the time to consider employing it for your virtual events, as well as your future live events as the exhibition industry comes back online.

For the uninitiated, retargeting is using internet data to target your advertising at people who have demonstrated interest in your product or service (or, in this case, event). You’re no doubt familiar with it from a consumer perspective. If you shop for a new pair of shoes, but don’t complete the purchase, you’ll likely notice those shoes start to follow you around the internet, popping up on your favorite sites reminding you of your interest.

A majority of the people who visit your event page won’t convert (purchase registration) immediately. Perhaps a handful of your loyal, repeat customers will, but generally people will look for details and then check schedules and contemplate the investment, putting off purchase until later.

With retargeting, you ensure those people don’t forget about your event. As they continue to use the internet, both personally and professionally, they’ll see advertising that reminds them of the event and that they need to register.

There are also variations of retargeting not necessarily based on a visit to the event page. List-based retargeting, for example, can put ads in front of past participants or certain groups of members you think might be interested in your event. (i.e. a list of targets you have.)

Search retargeting takes advantage of contextual behavior. It recognizes when people use search terms related to your event and provides them advertising promoting the event in hopes that interest turns into participation.

Retargeting is great for stoking registrations, but it also has a role to play in sponsorship and non-dues revenue. That’s because your audience isn’t just valuable to you, but to vendors and suppliers. The same programmatic technology that promotes your event can put your sponsors in front of their targeted prospects.

In a process sometimes referred to as audience extension, paid sponsors of your event can gain access to the participants following the event to provide relevant follow up advertising or offers. Audience extension can be offered as a valuable (and lucrative) add-on for sponsorship packages.

Taking advantage of retargeting technology sounds like a great idea, and it is – if you can effectively execute it. In an Associations Now blog post, partner for association and advertiser relations at Association Media Group Jim Blakey advised associations to ask two important questions when considering use of retargeting: “Do they have a sales staff that can sell digital advertising? If they do, then the next question would be, do they have the expertise to share best practices with advertisers and guide them?”

If there’s any doubt in answering these questions, it might be best to incorporate a partner, such as MultiView, with capabilities already in place to successfully implement retargeting technology.

Virtual events will likely play a greater role in association learning and networking going forward, and one exciting aspect of this is that many organizations have already witnessed growth in new audiences and participation that wasn’t involved in live, in-person events. That new audience is important and valuable to you and your sponsor partners, so don’t allow it to go untapped.


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