DoubleDutch shares its mobile event platform at GDC Europe 2015

GDC Europe 2015

For over 20 years, I’ve worked in live events, and most of that time was spent at UBM, one of the world’s leading event companies. At UBM, I led the deployment of mobile apps for high-tech events like Black Hat, Game Developers Conference, and Interop. These events are wildly successful and loved by attendees because UBM understands attending a conference or expo is a commitment of time and expense, and event teams go the extra mile to ensure fantastic ROI for attendees. This is one reason UBM has relied on DoubleDutch since 2011.

At UBM, we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of people in our target market. We knew their decision to attend an event was a big one. It’s a decision that involves the registration cost, travel cost, the opportunity cost of time away from work, and perhaps time away from friends and family. That’s a substantial investment.

So it’s crucial to plan and execute an event with painstaking precision. You can’t “fix it in post” or patch an event after the fact. There are no second chances. This means the stakes are high for the organizer. There’s one shot to give the attendee the ROI they expect.

As an events-led media company that produces hundreds of events every year and operates from 20 major offices around the globe, UBM understands this better than most. And the event app is an integral part of the equation in delivering ROI to attendees.

(True story: at Interop a few years ago, a couple connected in the app prior to the show. After exchanging in-app messages, they met in person at Interop, hit it off, began a long-distance relationship, and got married a while later. They reached out to us and thanked us for playing matchmaker. Now that’s attendee ROI!)

But it’s more than just attendee ROI that an event app brings.

The smartest event planners also recognize that there’s a cost associated with not providing an app. Apps prevent attendees from feeling lost, confused or unengaged at an event. When that happens, it usually has knock-on effects across an event.

“In my time at Marketo, our event app enabled us to see the attendee journey from start to finish. It created a community feel across all platforms. We could see how all attendees were interacting with sponsors, tracking hot-spots across the entire program and key engagement points. Over time you can apply that knowledge onsite and through your digital programs.”

Michael Powers,

Senior Marketing Manager, SnapApp

Rise of the Event Marketer

Unengaged attendees are less apt to reach out to other attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. They’re not as likely to attend sessions, or contribute to conversations that might help others. It probably means your event won’t get positive Tweets or Facebook posts from them. Overall, the energy of the show is diminished ever so slightly by every disengaged attendee.

So in addition to boosting attendee ROI, the event app helps maintain that essential energy and buzz.

What’s wonderful about event apps today is you can see that in the data. Meeting professionals can now observe a correlation between social engagement in the app, and the team’s perception that the event “had a good buzz”. Is that scientific? Hardly. The notion of event buzz is subjective, and today we can inch closer towards quantifying it. I look for those interesting nuggets in the data DoubleDutch collects from live events to share with event teams – it’s always been fun for me.

At UBM, the key data points I monitored to track attendee engagement were:

  • Percentage of highly engaged users  (the percentage of active users with 10+ sessions in the app)

  • “Likes” per active user

  • Comments per active user

  • Status Updates per active user

  • Photos uploaded per active user

After years of working with app data like this, it suddenly dawned on me – I love doing this. So my a long stint at UBM came to a close and I landed my dream job at DoubleDutch as product manager for data and analytics. Jackpot.

This is the next step in my journey as an #eventprof. With a month under my belt at the company, it’s sinking in that I’m now able to help thousands of other event professionals get better at what they do. I can’t wait to help customers unlock their app data so they can explore the cool stuff within.

Are there key data points in the app that you’re tracking for your events? Or, are there data points you want, but aren’t getting right now? I want to know. Drop me a note at adunne (at) and let’s talk!