Trade Show Strategy – E3 2011 Game Conference Study

If you are unfamiliar with the gaming industry, E3 is the largest game conference where companies like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony go head-to-head to release the latest games and hardware platforms. Millions of dollars are spent creating a user experience that includes custom video previews, interactive displays, and digital outreach strategies.

So what are we looking at?

Our team setup several tracking systems on different brand terms and search phrases for 15 days prior and 15 days after the E3 2011 game conference.

As event professionals and social media leaders our team was hoping that the E3 digital experience would leave us with some great examples that other conferences could use. In the real world the E3 game conference is a ‘perfect storm’ of cult enthusiasts, technology addicts, impulse shoppers, and big marketing budgets. As an event strategist I couldn’t hope for a better combination of ingredients to witness the perfect digital experience….

But unfortunately it was a big, sudden flash of noise
that vanished into cyberspace.

Lets look at some of the details Twitter style

As part of our study we tracked the primary hashtags and keywords surrounding the event. Most of this usage was centralized around Twitter (and a much smaller percentage on Facebook.) If you look at the chart on the left, you can see June 3rd through June 9th. Commentary shot up for a few days, people where interested… and they were gone.

X-box, Nintendo, and Sony all spent millions of dollars creating a perfect audience and then abandoned the conversation. For the fifteen days following the event there where less than 100 pieces of content being promoted. These died off almost entirely by the end of June.


Lets look at some of the details Google style

Instead of measuring people talking about the E3 game conference (above) we can also turn to search engines and look at how often people search for the conference. The chart below shows us how often people were looking for the E3 conference from May through July. By examining the level of demand that Google measures, we can begin to examine gaps in content supply.

The interesting fact here is that we can immediately see a disconnect in supply and demand. Google shows us that there is a demand that continues through all of June (and currently continues.) The flat line before and after the spike is not at ZERO, but at roughly 300 to 500 daily searches.

The Digital Audience

Google also reveals some interesting insight about the online audience. The chart below highlights global audience niches that a marketing manager could have utilized to map out specific call-to-actions or localized language variations (as of this article, we couldn’t find examples of any localized campaigns based on the E3 game conference)

Drilling down to the United States as a case example (sorry global readers!)

The following map gives us a pretty well defined idea of what states are driving online demand (West Virginia, Nevada, Idaho)
It highlights an interesting point of consideration for global conferences: some audiences in the U.S. cannot afford to attend in-person and they are forced to consume content virtually. There could be other driving forces behind high-demand in states like Nevada / Idaho that are not obvious at first.

The next Google chart provides a tactical map of specific high-volume cities: if you were considering a road show or city based promotional campaign this data could be invaluable for establishing where demand is located (Google presents this data down to the city level.)

Some Educated Concept and Value Points

If I was an event manager working with global sponsors and vendors, imagine how valuable a market map of your audience is. While this is a basic overview, clusters of enthusiasts, fan groups, industry leaders, and consumers can be identified based on search queries (demand) and social conversation (supply)

If I was looking to promote attendance or generate additional event buzz I could use a geographic demand map to locate city specific thought-leaders and niche communities via Facebook Pages, Linkedin Groups, Twitter Hashtags, and Meetup/Eventbrite/Upcoming topics to offer sign-up incentives.

An Opportunity Point

Google, Yahoo, and Bing statistics tell us there are an average of over 500 related “E3 2011” or “E3 game” searches every day.

If you look at the opportunity chart below, you can see that new content (in dark blue) was generated for roughly one week… then left stale. The Google trends line shows the other 348 days where will be 175,000 people looking for information about E3 2011 and then E3 2012.

  • As an E3 Event Strategist: I could implement a content plan that continues releasing new content to specific niche search groups. I could also reach out to sponsors & vendors to co-brand content campaigns during non-event time.
  • As an E3 Sponsor / Vendor: I could implement a content plan that extends beyond the strategy of E3 staff and allows me to monetize the E3 audience through-out the next 8 to 10 months. I could target specific cities and digital communities with tactical precision (and not waster budget trying to appeal to the general E3 audience that may not be in my target demographic.)

What type of opportunity gap exists in your industry?