Most Innovative Meetings 2012: #5 Electronic Entertainment Expo

The Entertainment Software Association launched a virtual platform that has big value for exhibitors and non-show-goers alike.

By Alesandra Dubin July 19, 2012, 2:20 AM EDT

The online platform gives consumers an inside look at E3's packed show floor.

Photo: Courtesy of E3

Each June, the Electronic Entertainment Expo takes over downtown Los Angeles with its annual menagerie of models, costumed characters, and jumbo props mingling among 48,000 high-energy attendees. Better known as E3, the massive, buzzy trade show for the computer and video game industry is owned and operated by the Entertainment Software Association, and draws a trade-only crowd, plus media and analysts from more than 80 countries for the splashy, visual, interactive program. The agenda includes video game unveilings, demos, and announcements on the show floor, plus press conferences from major hardware and software publishers, including the likes of Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo of America, and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Understanding—and tapping into—the broad consumer crossover appeal of the show, organizers launched e3insider.com in 2011. The virtual platform, developed in cooperation with IDG Entertainment/GamePro Media, allows consumers to share the trade-only experience, and so far, it’s had 2.4 million unique visits. It offers interviews, behind-the- scenes looks at the event, and previews of anticipated computer and video games. Also included are preshow coverage and a steady stream of exhibitors’ virtual booth content such as announcements, screens, and video trailers.

Each E3 exhibitor is included on E3 Insider through a virtual booth, and visitors can rate their interest in company announcements through polls and real-time social data that reveals the most viewed and most anticipated games of the show. An interactive show-floor map, using a real-time Web communication platform powered by Kaazing, displays a so-called “heat map” identifying where virtual crowds are gathering.

The platform allows exhibitors to track how many global users are accessing their virtual booths and news outside the show in real time, adding huge value for exhibitors, although E3 has not raised prices. And it’s available in a downloadable format, another environmentally friendly element to join the conference’s digital-only press kits.

Further innovating technologically, E3 also offers a mobile app and a “MapYourShow” element that serves as an interactive floor plan to help exhibitors and attendees track their steps, preview new products, and save everything under a personal profile. E3 also has 155,000 Facebook likes and 103,000 Twitter followers.

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