It looks like virtual events are here to stay, at least in a secondary role to in-person events when it’s safe to resume them. That said, the industry is currently feeling the pressure to improve their virtual events, especially in terms of technology. As the phrase “The future is hybrid” becomes the new industry mantra, one resounding concern is production quality. Right now, virtual events are still in the majority, and new research shows that the popularity of online events will outlive the pandemic.
Today we’re going to talk about how digital backdrops are improving online events. But first let’s take a brief look at why virtual events are here to stay:
15% of travelers plan to avoid large cities and public transport even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Hybrid events are probably here to stay; 9.86% of B2B organizations report that seeing a positive ROI from hybrid events 7 months after their event took place.
86% of participants in online events have reported higher engagement levels than in-person events.
We could spend the few days listing more statistics that support this conclusion, but you get the idea. Let’s focus on how event planners are using LED walls and other digital backdrops to improve their virtual and hybrid events.
You may be thinking, “Well, since I’m not a millionaire who owns my own stadium, I’ll just skip this one.” And not long ago you’d be right- LED walls are traditionally used at high profile sporting events, conferences, and the like. In fact, the Grammys used them this year to make their virtual red carpet glitter with as much glam as it did in the flesh. So what changed?
In a nutshell: The price of LED walls just went way down, probably based on advanced tech and the need for high quality virtual events. Worried about expenses? Yeah, you’re not alone. It may seem counterproductive to invest in technology during a time when this industry is making up for so much lost revenue, but here’s the thing: You don’t have to spend a fortune to use LED walls. Many softer walls are way more compatible with smaller budgets, and have worked their magic on successful events. For the first time ever, this technology is becoming much more accessible- and we’re loving it.
Why LED Walls?
What is the difference between LED video walls and a projector? In this case, it’s not necessarily about bigger and better: It’s about brighter (although LED walls can create much bigger lifelike backdrops than projector screens can). LED walls are assembled with thousands of tiny, light-emitting diodes. In English, that means they are made up of tiny lights instead of a single bulb source, as is the case with a projector. The results vary, but include bigger pictures, higher quality images, and better resolution. They can be used in direct sunlight and have a longer lifespan, too.
Perhaps most importantly, they don’t require a backlight- they produce colored light independently when a specific voltage is applied to them. So if you use them, you don’t have to worry about creating pitch perfect lighting from a single bulb source. And the images are more seamless than those you get from LCD lights, which have visual borders between a screen and its frame. (Those are called bezels). There are no bezels with LED lights, which adds to its seamless high quality.
LED Walls Make Virtual Events More Immersive
...And event creators have tapped into that trend. As virtual events became the main source of entertainment, they became more competitive, and event profs had to step up their technology. Now LED walls have much more practical applications for smaller scale events. For example, some events are using LED walls to enhance in-house or sponsored videos. Digital backdrops have the ability to briefly transport viewers into another world. That immersion is important- especially when you’re trying to take an experiential market into the virtual space. You’ve got to give consumers a chance to experience your brand- and LED walls do just that. They superimpose another world over the viewer’s screen. This is an especially impactful tool for video ads; these kinds of ads need to pack a powerful punch in a short amount of time. How better to accomplish that than with vivid, immersive visuals?
And did you know LED walls can be used to split content on the screen? Want to run an ad during the main event? Done. Want to give attendees visuals of more than one part of the same live event at the same time? You can literally give attendees a “window” into multiple scenes.
LED Walls: A Powerful Streaming Tool'
You may not have thought of them this way before, but LED walls are also powerful streaming tools. For this reason, they’re starting to create a big splash in the hybrid world. We can’t all be at live events, especially if we’re social distancing- which most of us still are. But what we can do is stream in-person events to make them accessible to all. LED walls help you deliver an experience that makes attendees feel as if they’re really at the main event.
Let’s say you’re streaming a sports game, and you use an LED wall depicting a large playing field. Attendees will be much more immersed in the game on a screen that matches the field. It gives the exciting impression that they’re actually in the stadium, up close to the action.
This same concept works for conferences. Because many of us are visual learners to a large extent, professional development or training conferences really need to find a way to be immersive. Attendees not only have to learn skills but remember them long after the event is over. Some in-person conferences use massive LED walls to create unique, memorable experiences for guests. Now we’re seeing it in the virtual world, on a much smaller scale. Companies who are training professionals to use a new technology can allow them to interact with the technology virtually against a complementary backdrop.
So yeah, LED walls are great for streaming audio content against an immersive backdrop. This makes attendees feel like part of the action, not just a viewer on the sidelines. As you already know, that’s majorly important in a competitive virtual culture. But you can also take it a step further and use LED video walls to magnify the image of an in-person event. For example, if you’re streaming a concert, you can actually magnify the image on screen so that your virtual audience gets a more intimate view.
Think about it. What do audiences want when attending an entertainment event, in person or virtual? For the most part, they want to be up close and personal with the performers. With LED video walls, they might get a closer view than they would have if they were sitting in the audience.
Make Social Media Stand Out
Showing social media walls is a great way to increase engagement at your virtual event. Need visuals to demonstrate how people are using your product or expressing themselves in your industry? You can literally show your attendees by displaying social media walls in real time. Searching a popular hashtag associated with your content can yield a host of visuals that enhance your event. Maybe you’re trying to demonstrate a need for the kind of product your company is selling. Or perhaps you’re showcasing the popularity of a sponsor’s products using social media. Whatever your cause, LED walls put social media walls in the spotlight!
Dinner and a Movie
One of the plusses of virtual culture? You can attend events- even professional conferences- from the comfort of your own home. You can do it while enjoying a meal, snack, or- what the hell- a nightcap. (Just putting this out there- we don’t recommend alcoholic beverages at professional conferences, virtual or otherwise!) Jokes aside, you can use this comfortable situation to your advantage by streaming a movie as part of your event. Whether you’re showing a film, giving a product demo, streaming a live event, or what have you, LED walls bring the action to life.
Virtual daters have been catching onto this trend like fire. Just last month, Glamour ran a popular article on virtual date ideas that won’t “drive you insane”. One suggestion put a new spin on an old cliche: Long, virtual walks on the beach. But what if you didn’t have to hire a company that creates virtual tours to transport your attendees somewhere new? With the right technology, which is becoming more accessible, you can create a resort-like atmosphere that guests enjoy from the comfort- and relative boredom- of their own home.
Making Practical Magic with LED Video Walls
Powerful imagery takes the mind beyond its own walls and into new worlds. It can also overcrowd the senses, so it’s never a good idea to flood them with too many images. It’s like information overload- the viewer tunes it all out, and as a result they have a negative memory of the assaulting content. That’s another reason we like authentic digital backdrops; they help events maintain consistency and enhance the immersive factor. This is a delicate balance, and continually showing one or a few great visuals doesn’t overload the senses. It fuels them just enough to immerse them in the experience and make the event memorable.
So what are some tangible uses of LED walls? Well, consider program scheduling. No one gets particularly excited about staring at a schedule through a screen, right? LED walls can brighten up and embolden your scheduling enough to make it a bit less boring- and more memorable. Which is important. You want attendees to actually understand your event programming and remember when future events are scheduled, right? Create a splashy (but not too loud or overly crowded) backdrop that gives your deets. Then show it continuously throughout your programming.
LED walls can add similar interest to live polling. There are few people who don’t derive some level of excitement from seeing their opinion on screen, albeit anonymously. Live polling also increases engagement big time- so do it with some flair.
Today we’ve discussed the many benefits of LED walls, but you’ll still need to decide whether they’re right for your event. In our next post, we’ll give pointers for making this decision- and we’ll also talk about the DO’s and DON’Ts of using them. We recognize that most event creators aren’t yet familiar with the ins and outs of this newly accessible technology. We’re all learning, so let’s do it together.