- The portion of executives who said they planned to attend events in Q3 or Q4 2021 rose to 45% in April from 37% in February, per survey results that business intelligence firm Advertiser Perceptions shared with Marketing Dive.
- Only 13% of April survey respondents expressed a willingness to start attending live events in Q1 2022, a negligible change from the February survey. A smaller portion of executives also claimed they would only start attending live events later than that period, another sign of growing optimism about in-person gatherings.
- The percentage of executives who said the time to start sponsoring in-person events would come in Q3 or Q4 2021 rose to 31% in April from 27% in February, while the percentage of those who said the time to resume creating events during that same period rose to 30% from 23%, the survey found. The findings suggest U.S. advertising executives in the past few months have grown more positive about idea of attending, sponsoring or creating in-person events.
Advertising executives at brands and their agencies have grown more willing to attend, sponsor or create live events sooner than they had in the recent past, especially during the second half of this year, according to Advertiser Perceptions' survey. Though the report doesn't mention the ongoing vaccination effort in the U.S., the falling rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations and the lifting of lockdowns in more regions are likely affecting perceptions about personal safety at public gatherings.
Pre-pandemic, sponsoring live events like concerts and esports tournaments was one way for brands to get in front on younger consumers who tend to be more averse to traditional ads. Many of those events moved online during the health crisis, and brands like Bud Light were quick to respond with sponsorships to reach digital viewers. The survey's findings that interest in live event sponsorship is ticking up could be an indication that both virtual and in-person events will find themselves competing for brand sponsorships as the pandemic wanes.
The improved sentiment about in-person events in the second half of the year comes a little too late to help revive interest in attending the 2021 Festival of Creativity hosted in France by Ascential's Cannes Lions organization. The festival is the signature yearly event for the advertising industry, bringing together thousands of marketing, media, technology and creative professionals to honor the most groundbreaking campaigns. Cannes Lions in January had said the yearly festival would be an in-person event, but last month changed those plans to be fully digital on June 21-25. The European Commission had set a target to vaccinate 70% of adults by the end of summer, but the percentage of people who have been fully inoculated varies by country and is lower than in the U.S. Meanwhile, many European countries still limit air travel from the U.S.
After a dramatic spike in infections as people gathered indoors during the holiday season, the mood was quite dark a few months ago. About a third (35%) of marketers said they were uncertain about when their companies would permit travel to resume, according to a survey from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). A key concern was vaccine distribution, with 75% of marketers saying they would only feel comfortable traveling after being immunized. The concern was understandable, considering that vaccine distribution was still in the early stages of ramping up. The Advertiser Perceptions survey is a sign that advertising professionals are more optimistic about live events than they were two months earlier.