Customer Experience

Podcast: Delivering impactful virtual events in the ‘new normal’

Steve Gustavson, Chief Creative Director from Adobe shares insights from how Adobe transformed their 20,000 in-person marketing summit in Las Vegas to a 100% virtual event and how brands can prepare for virtual events while maintaining a great customer experience in the “new normal.”

Steve was joined by Clay Warren, Head of Digital CX at Qualtrics.

Hear the full interview:

Read full transcript

What process did you go through when you had to cancel Adobe Summit in Las Vegas?

We realized people needed this moment. We felt very strongly about that — the world is changing around us rapidly, but our customers still wanted to connect.

So we thought, well, we've got to do something. We didn't want to postpone it... we realized we've got to go purely digital, self-recording, videos at home.

One of our values is being genuine and authentic, and so we didn’t want to put people over goofy green screens… it was very raw and very genuine.

How did you ensure digital best practice when everyone was presenting remotely?

“We sent people the camera equipment, audio equipment etc. but they had to set it up themselves — we couldn’t go into homes or offices to film. And so some of that was very scrappy, but it came across as very genuine.”

What kind of data and feedback were you able to get from the event this year?

“Because it was a fully digital experience, we had all the Adobe Analytics data on what people actually were doing and that revealed some very particular trends.

So as we’re looking at future events we’re able to look at that data and ask ourselves questions like how did those breakout sessions perform?”

How do you see physical events evolving for companies in the next 9 months?

“We will recover from this and want to physically be together again at some point in the future but for the time being, digital events are going to be table stakes.

We need to think about what we want that experience to look like - we are definitely looking at how we use personalization and AI and using some of the session data to refine the experience.

As restrictions are lifted, I think we’ll start to experiment a bit… you don’t want to saturate the market with every person holding their own events. We need to be thoughtful about how we do it… we're trying to think through what's the right cadence to be building an experience to engage our customers and our partners.”

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Clay Warren (00:03):
Hi, this is Clay Warren, head of digital CX at Qualtrics, and I want to welcome you to our webcast series. We're calling the digital playbook. In this series we'll discuss all things digital, digital marketing, digital analytics, digital strategy, and digital customer experience. Throughout the series, we'll invite industry experts and digital practitioners to discuss and debate these topics. Today we've invited Adobe chief creative director, Steve Gustavson to join us. We've invited Steve on today's webcast as he is just finished, what was an incredible transition of moving the Adobe summit from a 20,000 in-person event in Las Vegas to a virtual conference. And most importantly, Adobe did this very successfully. I might add, if you're not familiar with the Adobe summit, it is one of the biggest digital marketing summits in the world. Welcome, Steve. Good to have you on. Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me. If you don't mind, tell us a little bit more about your background, your role at Adobe and, and your responsibilities.
Steve Gustavson (01:06):
Yeah, so I'm a chief creative director. There's two of us, well Adobe has two businesses and I basically lead the internal creative team for our digital experience business. That means that I manage the teams of creative directors and art directors, copywriters, user experience designers, account managers, traffic people, video production, basically anyone that you would think of at an agency that does creative work. We basically have that sort of function internally. And then of course, I also oversee a lot of our agency relationships and the expression of every brand, you know, we work with dozens if not hundreds of agencies sort of around the globe on everything from advertising to the experience we built on to, you know, digital demand content and live events, which is what we're going to talk. And I've been at Adobe for about 15 years.Steve Gustavson (01:53):
Next, next month if you can believe it. I can't. I joined through a company called Omniture, which is a web analytics company that was based out of Orem, Utah at the time. I joined there pretty soon out of college as a graphic designer of all things. And I've just sort of slowly, you know, chipped away and, and you know, have lots of great experiences, credible experience for, you know, armature, a small Utah based company be acquired by Adobe. And I've just been really fortunate to be part of a really great company and work on a great brand and be surrounded by really incredible people that I've had the chance to learn from. So, that's sort of a little bit about me in a nutshell. And now I sort of lead the creative team from one of these businesses.Clay Warren (02:33):
That's awesome. Thanks for the intro. So, you have a pretty significant role in Adobe summit, and having worked at Adobe before, I know you have, you're all about creating awesome experiences for customers. So generally this happens in person and so I'd love to just better understand kind of what your mindset as all of a sudden we go into this global pandemic and Adobe summit is canceled from Las Vegas and having attended Adobe summit,Steve Gustavson (03:00):
it's an incredible event. Probably more than 20,000 people in Vegas. So how did you guys start thinking about this transition to moving from this in person engaging event to a more digital format? Yeah, so it was, you know, we all say we're living in unprecedented times. I'm getting very sick of hearing that phrase, but it still remains to be very true. You know, we're, we're learning new things about how we need to operate on a daily basis. We're, you know, challenging ourselves and we're learning new things a lot. And as, as it relates to a summit, you know, it was particularly pointed for me. I've worked on that event for 15 years. Like there are a few people in tech who have worked on a single, you know, conference brand for that long. So this would've been my 15th physical events. So we had it all planned, of course, just like everyone else did.Steve Gustavson (03:47):
I know you guys also had an incredible event plans, as did SAP and a bunch of our peers in the industry, there's, there's a lot of us who sort of went through this at the same time. But it happened really rapidly, right? We had a complete event that was planned, the identity, the experience, the keynotes. And I'll speak sort of broadly on behalf of a number of people. As I personally did all of this. It takes a village, but we had our keynote team that was planning to have incredible lineup of speakers, right? We had all sorts of, celebrities and, and, you know, artists and entertainment plus of course, hundreds and hundreds of tracks that people, so a few as sort of the pandemic hit. And of course things were changing almost on like a daily basis. We were trying to process new information and it, it, they frankly pivoted very quickly from we're going to do this event.Steve Gustavson (04:36):
Oh, shoot. Like this is real and we need to be very sensitive about it. And Adobe has a very, I think a very, you know, pure and ethical sort of a culture to it. And so as our leadership, again, I didn't make the decision to cancel the physical event, but I certainly was in the room and I've heard this stuff firsthand and you know, our leaders realize Adobe is not the company that wants to be hosting an event that puts people at risk, both employees or of course our customers that we care. And so, it became, you know, there was a, there was a very sort of poignant moment where some of our leaders came in and said, and by the way, it was a meeting where we were actually like talking about the keynote actually going through real stuff that we were doing.

Steve Gustavson (05:17):
Wow! And, and the, the sediment was, they walked in the room and said, we, you know, we've made some decisions and we need to do the right things by our customers and by all of you. And so we're going to have to postpone or cancel the physical events. I know you guys postponed it. Who knows what's happening, right? This, this continues to evolve. But for us it was very clear we were four weeks out. We weren't going to put ourselves in harms way. We needed to make decisions to be very sort of, intentional about what we did because it was a massive physical thing requiring traveling for gold global people. We wanted to make sure we were ahead of it. So we, we made the call and then very quickly we realized, well, we've got to still do something that has great value.

Steve Gustavson (05:54):
And so what does that look like? And so we actually went through a couple of phases of it where it went from the incredible physical thing that everyone's experienced. And I've been by the way to X4 in the past too. So like, there's a lot of us who've done this really well, so we can't do that. So then, well, let's still record it and stream it live, but not to, you know, a physical audience. And of course moments or days or hours later, we realized even that's not realistic, the shelter in place hit in the Bay area, the best of intentions. And we had this incredible production plan with our keynote team, you know, using all the creative from my team. They have this insane setup that they would have were actually recorded one of our offices and it would have been amazing and we would have streamed it live and would have felt, I think an incredibly strong proxy for what a normal viewer of summit would have seen.

Steve Gustavson (06:40):
So if you weren't physically attending but you watched someone online, this would have basically been that. So we're like, well we can do this. It'll be great. That keynote team is is of course we think they're quite great. I think the one of the best in the business, but same keynote productions. But then very quick we realized we can't do that. So if you're sheltered in place, and of course I'm in Utah, Lon white counterparts are in San Francisco or San Jose, right? We're dealing with this patchwork of guidance from different States and local, you know, governing bodies so that we couldn't even like have a shared point of view at that point. But what needed to happen? So we realized, well shoot, like our customers are planning on it. People need this moment. That was another thing. We felt very strongly about that our customers now, like the world is changing around us rapidly, but we still want to connect.

Steve Gustavson (07:27):
Mmm. I'm an introvert. Maybe I'd like to connect specifically less than others. Yeah. But people still wanted that moment where they could like, you know, maybe it was their morning coffee, they wanted to sit down and experience something. They still right. We're all still in the business of building great customer experiences. And so we realized, well, we've got to do something. We don't want to postpone it. We don't want it like it's too late at this point to do, to do it effectively. Um, so we realized we've got to go purely digital, self recording, video home. You know, my, my video crew did a lot of post production on it, but, we're like, we're going to do it and we're going to lean into it. And one of our values is being genuine and authentic. And so we're like, look, let's not try to make it what it is and put people over goofy green screens.

Steve Gustavson (08:08):
You could probably do that really well, but we chose not to. And we said, well, we're just going to pivot. And we realized looking back that we, we made that decision literally two weeks before we launched the experience that we did. Well, that's of course this is tons of teams, right? We're working with our web product management, team, engineers, content creators, the people actually doing all the content. Of course we have hundreds of people lined up to do sessions, product marketers and other partners and customers next with an expert, right? So we realized we really pivoted within two weeks. We said, okay, this is going to be a purely digital experience with purely prerecorded content and let's just build and design the best experience. So of course, my, my team ended up playing probably an oversized role in this because working with our, our sort of web product management team, we had design whole thing.

Steve Gustavson (08:53):
Yeah. It's just videos on a site. So how do you build an experience that felt somewhat personal but that we can also give some hierarchy to like what were those main stage moments? Right? We even shot a film with Tom Brady, by the way, and his home was the very last thing we shot in, right? Becca in New York, right? So it's high if you look at the experience with like that's high production because we had an actual film, but a lot of them became physically impossible to do that. And so, you know, it was, it was interesting moment, right? We, we built best practice guides and we sent, you know, recording equipment that was becoming harder and harder to find to people's homes so that they actually filmed themselves in the best sort of set up with, you know, passable audio.

Steve Gustavson (09:34):
So we actually hear them, but it was very raw and very genuine. And the good news was we actually got some really tremendous feedback from the community around the, of course we're Adobe, right? So our, our quality bar is like the most obscene thing ever. But, in this moment it's the CEO in his living room, right? And it's the head of the business unit, you know, sitting in the computer in his home office. And we had just overwhelmingly positive feedback from people saying, Oh my gosh, you guys actually like pulled it off. Like who cares? It looks like.

Clay Warren (10:02):
Yeah, I agree. I mean I haven't watched a lot of it. I thought you guys did an incredible job and hence why we're speaking today. But you created, you recreated a lot of that summit experience that I've had in the past, which was incredible. I watched one session and I was thinking how did they pull this off? I mean you mentioned best practice guides and you don't have to dive into that, but were you kind of, did you send those out to speakers beforehand and say, here's best practices to make sure how to present to an audience digitally. You mentioned sending recording equipment. Talk about that a little bit. You know, we're, I can imagine, cause I saw on Twitter a lot of your speakers, you know who, who I know personally were like, yeah, I get to go and sit at home and present in my pajamas. And actually it came across so professional and well done. So talk a little bit about some of the best practices and such.

Steve Gustavson (10:53):
Yeah, and by the way, after that I'll share a sort of a summary of this. We're also producing some content, a couple of blogs that have gone live and then we're actually about to launch it and like a full blown like in depth like digital event, best practice guide they'll we'll be making available. So some of that material is coming. We certainly, maybe you can link to that how it's promoted, but there's some really great stuff where we documented it. But the first thing we, we mostly did is say, look, we've got to send you some basic stuff, right? Well of course in Utah we had the moment we had the benefit I think of sort of observing what was happening on the coasts. So as we saw things getting tighter and tighter, of course New York was particularly, you know, hit by this.

Steve Gustavson (11:33):
But the minute California shut down, I think a lot of sudden you are like, this is coming. Right. And we have a couple of days to prepare. And so I remember the moment when we said we're gonna close our California offices. I'm like, I know where this is going. Right. Stuff starts on the coast, it works its way inward. Utah's always, you know, health wise or even fashion wise for any fashion nerds like things started the coast and work their way towards the center of the company or the country. And I realized like, I'm gonna take my stuff off, I'm going to grab my monitor and my, I got like a fairly nice home office set up because I just packed up everything that I had and went home. But as we realized, there was a lot of people who don't do what I do for a living where they live and breathe on these big monitors with sound systems.

Steve Gustavson (12:16):
They didn't have like cameras, right. There's some fundamental things like a lot of people just went home with their laptops and then these orders came down. They weren't allowed back in to grab their stuff. And so we realized like, well shoot, like there's a fundamental amount of stuff that people have to have just to make sure that like the audio and video can be recorded in some cases. And so I think, you know, our video production team and our keynote team sort of collaborated on this and they just figured out like, what is the basic set of, of assets that you need? You did a webcam, you need to make sure you've got semi decent audio. A lot of them weren't Mike's. You'll notice one of these recordings is just people like sitting up up in your grill on their laptops doing what they can.

Steve Gustavson (12:57):
But like I think like a self-reported camera was tablespace. We wanted to be able to capture the person. I think that's part of how we made it feel more real. They had slides and of course some people have elaborate decks and other people have very sort of functional PowerPoint slides recently. The template, which is totally fine, you know, we don't expect a data scientist to be an incredible designer. So I think being a little genuine there was fine, but we wanted to make sure that we could see as many of them as possible. And so I think you, you see this maybe not all the breakouts. I think a lot of those were recorded and sort of a very scrappy and authentic way. If you're, you know, we know some of these guys, right? Like a Ben Gaines who's a very prolific, you know, Twitter, talking about analytics, product management for example.

Steve Gustavson (13:38):
Right? you know, he had his deck but he, he made it, it wasn't on camera, but we did produce quite a few of what we tried to make feel like our keynote. So we had, you know, our CEO Shantanu shot in his living room, right? We, there was a crew, you know, give him a little love, but he sh he set it up himself. Right. We didn't put people in people's homes, right. We did not violate the law in any of these cases. So these people set it up. But then we also had innovation keynotes and from everyone from like a Steve Hammond who's pretty well known and those are Adobe sneaks, which is sort of a, you know, the labs people showing sort of cool innovations. He's a bit of a, you know, a photography officiant auto himself. And so he shot himself with a multiple multi-camera setup in his basement with like proper lighting.

Steve Gustavson (14:20):
Wow. There was sort of a gamut of people like Steve who have some scale and love to do the stuff to others where we're like, look, you're going to be one of what we would have called an innovation keynote. Like we want to see you gotta be on screen. We want our, you know, our executives and sort of these big stories to be told. So we ended up sending them cameras in the case of a lot of, a lot of those people, and it's the basic audio stuff, but it was still pretty scrappy as you saw. Yeah. It's interesting because I felt more connected from an experience perspective of those who were on camera. I can see them face to face versus we always think talking slides never quite connects. Did you guys, did you guys see any of those trends on like a, I don't know if you guys measured any of the experiences.

Steve Gustavson (15:03):
I mean generally I know summit sessions are, are, are measured in some way, shape or form based on customer feedback. Did you guys get any customer feedback on any of that? I mostly, it was anecdotal just to say that, Hey, we're super impressed you guys pulled this thing off because a lot of people just flat out cancel things cause they're like, we don't know how to pull it off in a matter of weeks that we had. So I mean the experience was, was pretty bare bones. I would say. We didn't, we didn't look at it from a, you know, did we get better engagement with or with camera speakers? I think it was more anecdotal. Like what did people respond to? But we did look at it from a, so that's almost more of like, you know, some subjective data, which frankly we didn't, we didn't have time to do a lot of that, but we did have an analytics team that did an incredible assessment, sort of like daily recaps to the leadership team to say, these are the trends that we're seeing.

Steve Gustavson (15:48):
Of course, as you can imagine, there's a massive spike on the day of, because we hold people like show up for these couple of hours and block it out. And then of course there's certain it drops off quickly and then there's a long tail of engagement where, you know, we've got to actively market it to give people, so that was sort of obvious, but what I really asked that analytics team to look into and share back with my team responsible for the user experience was what did people click through? Like, because it was a fully digital experience, we should have complete, you know, the Adobe analytics data on what people actually were doing. Right. And so, you know, revealed some, some very particular trends. If you spend any time in the UX world, you know that carousels, it's not rocket science. The thing in the first position gets the most engagement in Alaska.

Steve Gustavson (16:32):
It's the least. And even with Tom Brady in that fifth spot, you know even he couldn't quite crack into what is just human behavior and how people use some of those things. So you know, we were very intentional at first to try to make the design of the experience feel like the same hierarchy that you would experience at the events, right? Executive keynotes up top, you know, vice president level, sort of innovation keynotes below there, news and announcements in a pod below that. And then of course we have sort of teaser to breakouts and then we had a, I think we produced 177 total pages by the way, with an accompanying video, which that's a whole other thing. We had a our engineering team who did a script that allowed us to basically populate an Excel spreadsheet with all of the data metadata session descriptions, speaker titles, all about wow.

Steve Gustavson (17:20):
We have a sort of a proprietary video player where we uploaded the videos but then they use basically an Excel spreadsheet and a script to basically produce all those pages. Right. Otherwise the publisher would have had to physically clone and copy, you know, inexperienced manager. Of course we use our own tech, but they would have had to make those all one by one. So they just extrapolated that entire process and automated the ton of it. And then we were able to go back through and sort of, you know, refine and make sure the video playback work to make sure that the copy was, you know, succinct. So there are sort of a pretty big hierarchy and some of the trends we saw afterwards was what I was mentioning. If it's the first thing on the top of the page and the first position, it gets a tremendous amount of engagement or yep, it was Sean's new, our CEO, a lot of people watch the video.

Steve Gustavson (18:03):
So that's great data to share with your CEO that Hey, by the way, people loved your content the best. We also designed it that way. And so as we think about future events, we're looking at the data to say, well how are the breakout sessions behave? Because we know that while we love the keynotes, the way that a practitioner who's an analyst or a developer or you know, a content strategy would it be, might be the way that they justify to their management actually going to these events is because of that, that breakout content, probably not as much as we would have, but I think we still ended up launching a hundred a hundred to 120 sessions that were all recorded again within two weeks and people's home. We had some vendors who support us in some of the recording, but that stuff was done really, really rapidly and very authentically.

Steve Gustavson (18:48):
And so what we're looking at now is, how did those breakouts actually get viewed? And as we think about our own marketing and segmentation and what are our own sort of campaigns look like, how do we make sure that the breakouts are getting the long tail value? Cause again, some topics are more niche than others. We've got a deep history with analytics. And so our data insights, we, we still call it attract. So we had an innovation keynote led by some people that you used to work closely with and then there that had the most breakout sessions. But there were some others like advertising that are more niche, right? And so we had to be very thoughtful looking at the data to say, look, just because one breakout session got more views than the other doesn't mean it's necessarily inherently more valuable. Right? And so we then went back and said, well, let's look at the raw data and understand like what sessions got engaged, you know, people engage with and then let's go back.

Steve Gustavson (19:37):
And this thing I was pushing on people data in a silo. Like don't just show me a chart if I can't look at the experience, you're only telling me how the story. So we started then to go back and map it and say, well, let's look at that. That breakout session and where did it sit? Was it on a breakout, you know, keynotes page with 73 other pieces of content? Or is it one of the three things on the page, right? Where did the promotion of that page sit on the overview page if it was in the carousel was in the first place or the fourth of the seventh. And you know, a lot of this was just very obvious. We, we tried to predict, you know, the best as we could with our audiences of what content they want to look at. But we're also being very thoughtful to say just because the thing only got 50 views doesn't mean it wasn't a valuable piece of content.

Steve Gustavson (20:19):
We're trying to balance those things. Again, this is, this is why we care deeply about experience. It's not just what the data is telling us, right? You have to look at the experience and the data creatively and context matters. I have to remind people, context matters. So in our analysts who were their brilliant analysts, use your own tools. Unless you can show me the picture that is associated with the data. I don't think I'm getting the full story. It's not going to help me make a smarter decision. I love that we, we often talk about context to any piece of feedback that we get

Clay Warren (20:48):
from customers. Data we look at context is so critical because without context it really leaves meaning out of data. So I love that. So, that's great insight. I would love to just get your thoughts on, okay, so we're going to move forward. Let's, let's assume in three months, maybe longer, this pandemic ends and all of a sudden we're back in a, when is NRF? I think NRF is the beginning of next year, something like that. Usually January, right? January we have Salesforce, Dreamforce. We have all these conferences that are going to come up again in 2020. What is your point of view on, are we going to see more of these events transition to a digital format? I mean, you guys were incredibly successful doing this. I can't imagine, well, maybe you will, but a NRF transitions to a digital event, but I would love your perspective on what you see moving forward.

Steve Gustavson (21:39):
Yeah. I mean, I don't have a crystal ball and I'm only, I can only, and I can't speak to Adobe, you know? Right. I would strategy, I'm not even totally privy to all of those details, but I think even if you just observe what's happening in the marketplace, and especially in sort of the tech realm, Dreamforce canceled, right? That was supposed to be in, in November, that was a massive, that's arguably the biggest tech conference there is. They bring in boats to house humans. Like that's, that's not going to happen. Right. Cruise ships are not a place people want to actively dock for an event. I don't see that happening anytime soon. I think you've got, you've got brands like Facebook and Microsoft and others, incredible brands, of course, partners of Adobe. So we love them. And they're basically saying, we're not touching a live event until middle of next year.

Steve Gustavson (22:22):
No, we have an Adobe. We haven't made any statement about that, but some of these brands are, Microsoft said we're not doing a physical event until June of 2021 at least. Wow. So, you know, and Facebook's developer conference, I actually just downloaded their app. I'm not a developer, but I just, sorry. Apple's just the other day, I'm just an Apple fan boy. And so I just, I love watching their stuff and you know, Adobe's branded voice is very different than that than Apple's, but I like to watch what, you know, what's happening in the industry. And so they're, you know, WWDC was canceled as a physical event, but they're doing it through an app. And so I downloaded the app because of course I love to have these apps and know what other brands are doing. So they're just, we sort of evolve our own app strategy, which we're, we're toying with right now.

Steve Gustavson (23:03):
We know what people are doing, but they're saying it's going to be all in the app and all of the marketing, all the content will be updated through this single application. Wow. For developers. Makes a ton of sense. But we work with developers and marketers and so we should be doing something sort of equally interesting. So I can tell you that summit was a moment in time and I think we were six very successful almost from the human side of it. The fact that we could pivot an entire organization at home and Adobe had been very much like an in the office culture before we, I went to the office every day from nine to six, you know, for 15 years. That's I'm old school. That's how I operated. These kids these days want it to be a little more remote. I didn't get it before and now I certainly get it and I think, you know, people much more senior than me or certainly, you know, have their eyes open.

Steve Gustavson (23:47):
So we did a very impressive feat from that standpoint. But we have other events coming up. We're doing a digital government event on May 21st, we're soon to announce another sort of combined, you know, Midsummer event that we're gonna do that's going cross a couple of our segments and we're innovating each time we do an event and of course that we have Adobe max down the road. We're figuring out like what's that experience going to look like? And so we're innovating from what was the foundation from summit, from a personalization and AI recommended. I didn't even talk about that, but we have some of our own sensor technology, you know, driving recommendations around sessions across and the robots are telling us a lot of interesting things about how people, you know, consumer content. But, we, if we'd had time again, literally two weeks, we would have done more actual live streaming or some sort of interactivity and Q and a and chat.

Steve Gustavson (24:35):
And so we've got this digital gov event where we're working with third party, we're going to do more of that and sort of test some of these features by the summer. And again, the sell for our digital experience business, we're going to be adding more and more sort of interactivity and functionality. And I think what at the end of year, Adobe, you know, if anyone could do it, I hope it's us. I think we're going to be doing some really incredible, stuff that looks like summit but has live interactive stuff. I think we heard any feedback. It was, what are you guys, it was incredible. The only thing we missed is if there had been a truly live stream thing from someone's home, it was a very minor nit. We said, that sounds lovely. We would have loved to have done that too.

Steve Gustavson (25:10):
So I think we're going to get really, really good at this ourselves and given what we've been able to accomplish here, I can't imagine that, even, you know, think about Adobe summit next year or Adobe max 2021 or I'm sure a lot of our industry peers, Microsoft has multiple conferences, right? Ignite, inflame, whatever all these conference names are. I would have to imagine that even if when we get back to doing physical things, and I think again, knowing face masks and social distancing or thing, I can't imagine a lot of people are jumping and chomping at the bit to get back into a room 16. Whether that's for work or a conference or church, I just can't imagine people are going to want to do that. You know, in the next three months at least. So I suspect that even when we do do that and we will write, we will recover from this and want to physically be together again at some point in the future.

Steve Gustavson (26:02):
So regardless of what that looks like, I can imagine that every single company is going to have an incredible physical event that may be smaller or constructed differently. Again, we haven't restated what that looked like for us, but we'll do that. But I'm guessing that the digital online portion is going to be table stakes going forward. Sure. And not what we just did. That was what we did, right. Humans could actually pull off in two weeks, but I think where we land by the end of the year with, I can only imagine, you know, if you're in the conferencing tech biz and the live streaming biz, that those, those are going to be hot companies that are probably mostly startups and fledgling in, they haven't had to have the know, the heavy integration conversations with an Adobe or a Qualtrics or an SAP companies that have CMS technologies and analytics technologies.

Steve Gustavson (26:52):
Like there's going to be a golden age of those conference technology saying, see, we, we've been telling you like, live streaming is going to be a thing. We're going to care about it. And so I can imagine that, you know, having an incredible digital first online interactive live video, you know, multiple people coming together. Whatever the chat technology sort of rise to the top. And again, there's, there's hundreds of these vendors. Well, I'll be interested to see, you know, the MarTech next sort of stack of the next 8,000, you know, video. I'm sure there's going to be hundreds and hundreds of, yeah, there's a new virtual events category now that, and you mentioned it like the interaction that we can have digitally, we can still create that. You guys, I mean Adobe is one of the, one of the leaders in doing that.

Steve Gustavson (27:40):
So, super impressive. Super impressive. Steve. I, I agree. I think there's a whole new category that's going to be created out of this. I think this idea of one, you can extend your reach as well simply through digital channels. And you said something that was really keen for me to repeat for, for our audiences, having a digital first mindset of how do you create this event as I almost digitizing your in person event while still even perhaps having an in person event to compliment. I think you could do both. I think I had to do both. And you know we were Adobe, right? So we've been talking about changing the world to digital experiences as long as I've been at Adobe, which is right. So it's clearly in our DNA to do that. I think we, we of course make great tools and we've got great partners, you know, in the, in the space that we don't make, you know, particular software.

Steve Gustavson (28:29):
But that's, we're so good at it when we just continued to do it. And I think that that's the balance people are gonna have to strike is you've got to go digital first. It is literally everyone's reality now. Even as we settled back into something new, it's going to be a new normal. You got more and more people at home. I think people and travel budgets are going to change. And in certain industries are being up, you know, there's complete upheaval in the travel hospitality space right now. We feel for our customers who were, who were in that space. And of course we're trying to help them, but there's others that are gonna flourish as part of this. And I think we've got to get really comfortable with the idea that travel budgets might be thin and people might be like, well, wait a minute.

Steve Gustavson (29:06):
I attended summit last year and I got great value out of it. Right. You know, we had, I don't have the latest stat, but we looked at the amount of hours of video consumption that people had done and it was in like the years. Wow. We got to the point where the only way to tally it was to say four and a half years of content has been consumed. And the first like two weeks at this thing, that's crazy. Don't call me on the number, but it was literally every day it's sort of, you know, it sort of crept, crept up. So clearly there's an appetite. The thing I think that, I want to be cautious about is, is sort of the saturation. Sure. This is anything like we moved away from direct mail because people were sick of getting mail in their inboxes.

Steve Gustavson (29:44):
Then we overwhelm people with emails and now you know, we're sort of embracing sort of multi touch things. So I think that's, that's how we're all going to have to calibrate is right. Digital is table stakes. You know, there's, you're gonna log into X forum. I don't know what you guys knew this year, but by 2021 you'll log into X four for an incredible experience with Michelle Obama or whoever you guys had that you had an insane lineup. Right? And that's going to be a thing that everyone's going to do. So how do you compliment it with, in person, what is the promotional strategy around it? How much of it is like a purely digital thing? How and where are people comfortable? Like receiving packages in the mail. Like these are all things that I think we're having to consider right now. We thought about let's give someone a virtual party, watch it in, in Las Vegas and we want you to have an awesome thing to know that you're an account or a customer that we deeply value.

Steve Gustavson (30:34):
But we ended up, you know, exploring and pausing, wanting to be considered to say when are people comfortable getting a package in the mail? And I think things are stabilizing a little bit now. Yeah, I'm not an Epic DZ whatever that is. I'm not that. I think, you know, as, as sort of the restrictions are loosened. I think we will start to experiment a little bit. When we did summit, that was like right at the heart of this, so we weren't going to do that, that type of a thing. But I think that's the balance is how do you, it's still gathered together in the appropriate ways and then the appropriate amounts and how much is together with brands versus you know, a company doing it on their own but in a virtual thing. Right. I think this is it. Like, even this connection you and I are having right now.

Steve Gustavson (31:16):
This is what I do all day while I was doing this because I'm in detail working for Bayer tech company. I did this for six or seven hours a day anyways, but it's the new normal. And so it isn't, it's that mix, right? How do you not saturate the market with every single person hosting, you know, their own events. And so we need to be thoughtful about it as do as it does everyone else. But you can't do this every month because you'll, you'll burn people out. Once a year is not enough. You know, we have businesses we need to drive, we need to be connecting with one another. So we're trying to think through what's the right cadence to be building an experience to engage our customers and our partners. Right. And it probably feels quarterly today, but again, this thing is the world's changing so much. I think we're still sort of in a trial and error sort of mindset.

Clay Warren (32:00):
Yeah, it is the new normal. I don't see this ending anytime soon. I feel like digital events is, is going to be the new normal for a lot of brands. And Steve, what I appreciate most is you've, you've definitely laid out the playbook, you know, at the highest level or and even into some of the details. So I really appreciate your time today. Of course you had all the insight you've provided. We love Adobe over here at Qualtrics, good partners of ours. And so, and for our viewers, if you want to talk about anything that you heard on the, on the webcast today or about how Qualtrics can help your business or Adobe, please feel free to email me at or otherwise, you can check out our website at Steve, thanks so much again and, be well. Yeah, my pleasure. Thanks.

Clay Warren

As Head of Digital CX, Clay Warren leads the product and marketing strategy for the Qualtrics CustomerXM for Digital solution. In his career, he has enjoyed both a depth and diversity of experience spanning disciplines including digital marketing strategy, media, analytics, and product marketing. Prior to Qualtrics, Clay led the go-to-market strategy for Adobe Analytics. Prior to Adobe, he built digital marketing strategies for Microsoft and for global brands at digital agency, Razorfish.

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