In a typical year, half of adults attend a visual or performing arts activity at least once, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.
Looking ahead to the summer of 2021, fewer than half of Americans on average say they’ll likely attend such performances, according to a recent Ipsos Coronavirus Consumer Tracker. Younger adults skew higher. Like most things, COVID-19 dramatically changed how we experience performance, shifting many to seek out virtual events and live streams over the past year. For performers, platforms and brands, it’s valuable and gratifying to gauge how many fans are out there and how they’re engaging in these rapidly growing platforms.
But how do you measure and put a virtual audience into context?
Virtual performances can sell tickets in the form of unique links to an event, providing one measure of audience size. However, many events are free, open to the public or are part of a membership or subscription. In those cases, we need to be more inventive to estimate a richer set of demographics and linkage to other behavior. One way is passive digital monitoring.
Ipsos’ Behavioral Data Group uses the LIFE Path approach that combines survey data with passive audience measurement techniques to deliver fast, accurate information about respondents’ digital journeys. The research collects information on the types of content and advertising that respondents consume on a daily or weekly basis. Working through panel partners, respondents can download applications that turn their smartphones and PCs into powerful meters that can even capture their exposure to broadcast content, including virtual performances.
Even those with their own platforms need to understand how to reach their customers outside of those platforms. Beyond virtual audience size, collected data also reveal the digital pathways that audience members followed in securing their virtual tickets, including how long they were in the consideration phase. It can highlight key moments during the research and buying stages, as well as point to the differences in time spent across different digital properties.
Such analyses enable entertainers and brands to better understand who and how committed their audience is, and what commonalities exist beyond the love for the performers. As virtual entertainment gains relevance and popularity, talent, promoters and brands will require more insights on where to advertise, what merchandise will sell best, and conceivably what content will make the audience happiest. By measuring multiple touch points, creators and talent can forge even stronger bonds to their audiences.