This September, Crain Communications' AutoWeek will be rolling out the AutoWeek Virtual Green Car Show, highlighting innovation in automobile design, engineering and hardware. On display will be "green" power systems, hybrid and electric vehicles, and utility companies touting their role in a "green" future. Educational sessions will cover "green" technology, community infrastructure, recycling and legislation—all presented in a virtual trade-show environment provided by ON24.
The show is being billed as the first-ever business-to-consumer virtual event, and may point to a future where Web-based events and webinars make up an ever-increasing part of the revenue pie for a variety of publishers looking to both satisfy sponsors and audiences, and lower overhead (compared to the costs of in-person events for both event producers and participants).
"I think we are going to see more of this," says ON24'S Chief Marketing Officer Denise Persson, who believes virtual events' next frontier may be marketing to enthusiast and other consumer communities. Early indicators of this trend include Oprah Winfrey's 10-week webinar series run with author Eckhart Tolle for his book "A New Earth" in 2008, and the growing popularity of book club webinars in general. In addition to its partnership with Crain, ON24 recently hosted a "hybrid" event with Nielsen Business Media, aimed at professional photographers and serious hobbyists.
AutoWeek, which has put out a special Earth Day edition annually for the last 20 years, sees the virtual car show as a way to extend its brand, both through content and the utilization of an eco-friendly format.
"This event … is not only for car enthusiasts. It's for people who follow the 'green' movement, as well as the general public," says Tony Foster, advertising director at AutoWeek. "We think this will show us as being a leader in presenting a unique event, and [providing] opportunity to both our clients and our subscribers.