The use of professional webcasts or event platforms has skyrocketed in the past year and a half, thanks to the still ongoing growth of digital events. Increased demand has pressured software manufacturers to continue adding features that contribute to a great user experience that matches or exceeds live events.

Nowadays, webcast tools and event platforms cater to virtually all types of digital events, from trade shows to virtual conferences, whether high-quality live streams in real-time or pre-recorded meetings. Moreover, the amount and degree of sophistication of the features offered in these platforms are also on the rise, going beyond plain video conferencing.

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When choosing a virtual event platform, event organisers have two options: they either use webcast event platforms or go for video conferencing solutions like Zoom. These have been making vast improvements to their capabilities and features, so the question is, do we still need webcast tools and event platforms? This article offers an overview of both options and the type of digital events they suit best.

Hosting Digital Events With Zoom And Similar Platforms

According to a survey, approximately 40% of event professionals use Zoom for virtual events. Microsoft Teams is the second tool of choice for small events. As for large virtual meetings, platforms like 6Connex, Accelevents or Adobe Connect are among the most popular tools.

We will focus on Zoom for this article since it has the largest market share and is the platform most event organisers know. As an event planner, you are no longer limited to Zoom meetings and webinar formats. With the development of Zoom Events, the event experience remains interactive. It is enriched with sophisticated networking features (even in multi-session digital events), customised registration, and the ability to host a virtual event, whether private, public, free, or paid.

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This makes Zoom Events a suitable option for small digital or hybrid meetings that don’t require a sophisticated event platform. And thanks to the Apps feature, Zoom offers additional functionalities that can help get more out of hybrid and digital events.

Zoom Apps: valuable integrations for more accessible hybrid and digital events

One of the main challenges for event planners is the smooth transfer of valuable data from one tool to another. Tasks that should be simple (like importing participant data from a registration tool into an event mobile app or transferring leads from the webcast platform into a CRM) end up being chaotic and frustrating.

The solution is integration, whether in the form of custom interfaces or platforms that can be integrated with your favourite tools. Zoom Apps is one of those platforms. It offers seamless integration with more than 80 event management solutions covering anything from virtual applauses to event registration, live voting, feedback, marketing automation, email marketing, and whiteboard functions.

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With Zoom Apps, event organisers can build extended functionality, boost collaboration, and make it easier for the organising team to complete tasks and achieve goals. This feature gives event planners the freedom to implement modern and efficient event management strategies that make their job easier.

To sum up, using Zoom Apps for integration purposes can help cover several crucial aspects of event management: turning webinars and meetings into online experiences, creating a monetisation strategy that works for you, and use participant data in follow-up marketing campaigns.

Professional event platforms and webcasting solutions

If, for whatever reason, you choose not to use Zoom or similar tools to manage your digital event, you may want to consider webcasting or event platform solutions. These have their place in modern event planning, and they offer many valuable functions.

As a general rule of thumb, the more complex and demanding your digital event becomes, the more worthwhile it is to use these professional event platforms. Next, we will look into their extensive features to compare them against your event requirements.

Enhanced networking

Almost every event platform is constantly developing additional networking functions for participants at the hybrid or digital events. Some enhanced networking features include:

  • 1:1 text chats, whose benefits are described here.
  • Group chats.
  • 1:1 video sessions, whether scheduled or spontaneous.
  • Carousel-style networking via video meetings.
  • Speed networking, also via video meetings.
  • Virtual tables for video meetings in small groups.
  • Breakout sessions for discussions in small groups.

Smart matchmaking

Sophisticated matchmaking solutions had been gaining popularity at events even before the pandemic. These intelligent solutions focus on connecting the right people, and in doing so, they take the benefits of networking to a new level.

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This feature is becoming increasingly important in both hybrid and digital events. As a result, smart matchmaking features are finding their way into more and more event platforms. On the other hand, regular video conferencing providers usually lag in deploying such features. So if this type of enhanced networking is crucial to your event, you may be better off with a professional platform.

Effective lead generation

Lead generation is one of the reasons why exhibitors and sponsors participate in digital events and virtual trade fairs. Before the pandemic, video conferencing solutions such as GoToMeeting already offered the possibility of viewing analytics linked to participant behaviour, but professional event platforms often do more than this.

Event platforms can bring a different angle to lead generation thanks to built-in features such as gamification, ranking of the most active participants on the platform, engagement scoring, and sophisticated analytics. What’s more, with these tools, you don’t just get access to quality data, but you can efficiently transfer it into the CRM or marketing automation tool of your choice.

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Moreover, many of these platforms are built with data protection compliance in mind, so you don’t have to treat this vital aspect of event planning as an entirely separate issue. In summary, professional event platforms deepen your understanding of participant behaviour, allow you to customise event offerings, and let you track business outcomes while preserving privacy and collecting robust data.

Higher broadcast quality

Webcasting platforms are often configured and managed by audiovisual service providers or agencies. Thanks to their expertise, they can usually be controlled at a more granular level regarding broadcast quality, especially traditional video conferencing solutions with a more “quick and easy” focus. Bear in mind that Zoom often automatically reduces picture quality, depending on the number of participants or the speed of their Internet connection. The compromise may not be very dramatic, but it’s always a risk that may not be worth assuming.

So what if you need more than a quick and easy set-up? There are some events where quality live streaming takes precedence, even if the tech solution that can deliver it is slightly more complex to use. This could be the case of virtual medical conferences or exhibitions, where image quality is a must to depict specific procedures or product details.

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This is where professional webcasting platforms have an advantage. Thanks to their extensive features and individually controlled broadcast settings, organisers have access to more options, higher image quality, professional branding, and more.

And since the video quality is key to engagement and the overall event experience, considering these platforms is one more step towards event success.

Conclusion

So do we still need professional webcasts or event platforms for digital events? It depends on what exactly you want to implement and accomplish. For relatively simple webinars or single-track events that only require simple interaction and voting tools, solutions such as Zoom Events, Zoom Apps and similar providers are becoming more and more attractive.

On the other hand, sophisticated event platforms and webcasting solutions offer event planners more valuable functions. These include detailed analytics for lead generation, sophisticated networking, intelligent matchmaking, and top-quality broadcasting.

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