A live event turned custom digital content destination
The American Physical Society (APS) is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities.
In light of existing global health and safety concerns, APS cancelled their on-site April meeting and instead decided to hold a digital meeting on the same date, making registration free and open to anyone.
APS wasn’t sure at first what a digital meeting would require, but thankfully, they already had a trusted event technology and digital event partner in their corner.
APS and Freeman had worked together for years, so it was an easy move for the organization to partner closely with Freeman on the digital meeting. APS had tremendous ideas, and Freeman had the solutions and expertise to make them happen.
The upcoming APS Virtual April Meeting had a high volume of valuable content to cover for attendees, so they needed to make sure it deeply engaged audiences while also offering opportunities for attendees to chat, ask questions, and network with exhibitors and each other.
The meeting was run through Freeman’s virtual platform, with the front-end custom-branded by Freeman using graphics provided by APS.
The virtual platform seamlessly supported live video presentations of sessions, on-demand poster sessions, and provided recording and technical support for the event. All the content was made available on demand on the APS platform both during and after the event, allowing attendees to replay, pause, or rewind content to watch sessions and view poster content at their own pace.
Freeman worked side-by-side with APS in setting up critical filtering for the content and loading a large amount of session data into the presentation management solution, as well as gathering and organizing any pre-recorded content ahead of the meeting to set the stage for a successful event.
The majority of the meeting’s sessions were live, which required a high level of hands-on support by the Freeman team, whose expert event technicians created and managed the entire livestream setup.
Attendees were able to communicate in real time alongside speaker videos, with sessions monitored by technicians dedicated to troubleshooting issues with the livestream and enforcing the APS code of conduct in chats.
To make sure speakers were prepared, and to ensure smooth execution for presentations, an online speaker ready room was created for the more than 1,400 presenters that were involved in more than 235 sessions, with 18 happening concurrently. A digital technician was available for check-in and support during set hours before and during the event — just like on show site.
Even though the meeting was digital, it was still incredibly important that participants were able to interact in real time and build meaningful connections with other attendees and the exhibitors.
An APS Village portal was configured specifically for this event, providing a space for attendees to interact directly with the APS staff, and allowing them to connect on topics such as development, education, journals, and more, in real-time video rooms.
Eight top exhibitors were featured in pages on the portal, and networking features of the platform made it easier for them to connect with attendees across the world, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI). Participants were able to view potential connections and set a virtual meeting via video, audio, or chat during available networking time slots.
A discussion community was also created on the site, so participants could chat about topics, ask questions, and exchange views and ideas, even after the meeting ended.
The Freeman team was able to help APS capture valuable metrics and prove event ROI.
The meeting that typically gets 1,800 in-person attendees drew 7,276 total registrants, with an average of 123 attendees per session for their digital event. There have been 1.04 million minutes of content streamed and over 410,000 pageviews. That number continues to climb, thanks to the on-demand content being served up post-event.
Attendees were very engaged during the meeting, with an average of 30 minutes of session watch time. The networking was also quite successful, with 819 active networking users and 382 connections made using the matchmaking module.
“Given all that had happened in a short amount of time, it was phenomenal what we could accomplish,” says Hunter Clemens, the director of meetings for APS. “[Many] participants say they were satisfied.”
The social media feedback from attendees was quite positive, with many complimenting the smoothness and stability of the virtual event.
The convenience of the virtual event was also a popular topic of discussion, with many attendees enjoying the ease of switching between sessions or watching multiple sessions at once. A neutrino physicist noted on Twitter, “I was able to attend a wider variety of sessions than I normally would have, since switching between parallel sessions was far more seamless.” (Source: nature.com)
“Can’t say thank you enough to the Freeman and APS team who worked on this event, making all the pieces work, and putting together what has been a pretty well-received virtual event,” said Mark Doyle, CIO, APS. “The main goal of delivering scientific content was successful, and from there, we have a really good foundation to build on for our next virtual event in June with Freeman’s support.”