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Lightweight but Powerful: O’Reilly Media’s Experience

Highlights of This Post

  • O’Reilly Media was looking for a solution to help their conference sponsors
  • They found Virtual Event Bags to be the solution, why?
  • O’Reilly was able to get great adoption by sponsors, how did they do it?
  • Did it work and what did they learn?

O’Reilly Media is a diversified company that “spreads the knowledge of innovators” through books, online services, magazines, research and conferences.

Basically, they deliver information about sophisticated technology for sophisticated people. But yet, until this year, they were still using the highly unsophisticated registration bag at their conferences to deliver sponsor messages to attendees.

This is the story of their journey to Virtual Event Bags.

Time for Change

Every year O’Reilly produces 12-15 technology conferences around the world. Beginning in 2015, O’Reilly made the decision to eliminate physical “registration bags” at its events. This decision was made for a variety of reasons, but it was apparent that the bags were generating a ton of work and waste but delivering no measurement of success to sponsors.

O’Reilly still needed, however, a viable alternative to deliver sponsor promotional messaging to attendees. Simply using email was not a viable option, as O’Reilly wanted to preserve the integrity of their email messaging for critical information regarding the conference versus flooding attendees with sponsor messaging.

The Virtual Event Bags Experience

While searching for digital solutions for sponsors, the team at O’Reilly discovered Virtual Event Bags. After a quick demonstration, they found the tool to be the perfect solution for their needs.

They were primarily drawn to three key features of the tool:

  1. Sponsor messaging in one place – The Virtual Event Bag brings together all of the sponsor’s promotional messaging into one place, making it easier to share with attendees before, during and after the event.
  2. Detailed engagement reports for each sponsor – Every sponsor received a detailed report of engagement, including information about the attendees that engage with their message within the bag. This was a big enhancement for the event sponsors.
  3. Sponsor create their own content – Sponsors create their own content with an easy-to-use Content Builder tool in a matter of minutes. This removed a lot of work from the team and provided more flexibility for the sponsor.

Positioning With Sponsors

O’Reilly decided to start with the Strata + Hadoop Conference in London. This event was only a few months away, so they chose to approach 15 of their 40 sponsors with the opportunity. They quickly had 10 sponsors excited to participate.

“I love the ability to eliminate redundant paper brochures and flyers, but still see results.”

One sponsor said, “I love the ability to eliminate redundant paper brochures and flyers, but still see results.” Every Sponsor receives access to a detailed performance report, which is available to them in real time.

Quick tangent … just what is “Hadoop?” We’re glad you asked. Now you can impress your friends with this valuable piece of trivia:

Hadoop defined


Delivering Results

For its inaugural use of the Virtual Event Bag, O’Reilly took a measured approach to distributing the bag to attendees, using only one pre-event email invitation from the platform. Despite this conservative path, they had over 60% of attendees visit the bag over the course of the conference.

strata+hadoop london 2015 report

For future events, O’Reilly’s team plans to expand distribution of the bag to include their mobile app, event-related emails, event website and other messaging channels in order to drive engagement even higher for sponsors.

Lightweight But Powerful

Every event team is lean, so adopting new technology tools can be a challenge. Virtual Event Bags is designed from the ground-up to be easy-to-use by both event organizer and their sponsors.

“The Virtual Event Bag program was extremely lightweight to manage, but delivered a powerful impact for our sponsors.” – Nate Coon, O’Reilly Media.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this behind-the-scenes customer success story. If you would like to learn more about Virtual Event Bags, please contact us for a personal tour or, if you prefer, watch a self-guided video tour.


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