The Great Debate: Event ROI vs. ROO
Calculating optimum value from your strategic event marketing
Over the last decade, the importance of the live event as a powerful marketing tool has completely transformed before our eyes. From digital to in-person, events now engage us in every way possible, and the value of this notion, just like the vast amount of money put into it, is not to be taken lightly. In a recent Event Marketing Institute report, 87% of consumers said that live events helped them understand products or services better than TV commercials.1 The same report shares that 89% of brands reported that their event programs are now more closely integrated with wider corporate marketing and branding initiatives. The fact of the matter is that event marketing is on the rise, and considered a strategic investment in today’s marketing mix.
Reporting ROI (return on investment) has quickly become a top priority post-event practice for agencies and brands alike. In a survey including top Fortune 1000 companies, the majority expected a three-to-one ROI from their events.2 Now, if you don’t think you’ve presented a seriously groundbreaking report on event ROI to your company’s executives lately, you’re part of 59% of marketers who reported to having no way to measure or track the return on investment of their events, according to a recent industry report from Eventbrite and HubSpot3 Wondering why this statistic is so high? It’s likely because that ROI formula you learned in Business Finance 101 doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with the ambiguous festival you just planned.
At any standard B2C event, your common goals may be to increase sales, launch a product, gain media impressions, build website traffic, or acquire new clients and RFPs. We call these objective goals, because they can be tracked with straightforward metrics. These metrics are easily converted into a generic ROI formula, making it simpler to present the value of these types of events. But, what about non-consumer, internal programs reaching a B2B audience? The meetings, offsites, press conferences and thought leadership summits? Events like these are valuable in obscure ways, not with hard facts or monetary figures, and this is where ROI falls flat.
Enter: ROO, or return on objective. Think of ROO as the hip, elusive cousin of ROI. Sometimes they engage in a little friendly competition, but for B2B events, there’s no question as to who comes out on top. The goals of these events may be to increase morale, engagement, awareness, or knowledge. We call these subjective goals. ROO does away with basic metrics like trade show leads and instead uses metrics such as number of positive attendee reactions, level of Q&A engagement, networking interactions, or survey responses, for example.
For us at FIRST, every live event, whether it’s B2B or B2C, is a critical medium for furthering sales, marketing, PR, and communications objectives. When FIRST is presented with a new proposal, we love clarity on goals, both objective and subjective, to better help us as creators, strategists, producers, and every other role we can play for your brand. If the desired outcomes are clear and in some way measurable, the potential for a greater return is increased. It’s certainly not an exact science, but for on-going success, measurement is key. At FIRST we work hard to harness our extensive know-how and measurement tools to develop the optimum value in every event we’re given the opportunity to create.
 Event Marketing Institute. “What Return on Investment (ROI) Do You Expect from Events?.” Statista – The Statistics Portal, Statista, www.statista.com/statistics/257565/event-marketing-programs-roi-in-the-us/
 The State of Event Marketing: Overview. Rep. HubSpot & Eventbrite, 2014. Web.