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Getting serious about fun

Research by festival experts Project Simply finds that festivals should be wary of social media over-reliance and control their marketing channels to achieve their growth ambitions.

Getting serious about fun

" Over 63 of festival organisers only use basic data tracking 30 of festival organisers find print and paid for media dont work Almost 75 of small festivals feel they rely "
Christian Hill, founder, Project Simply

digital design agency Project Simply today revealed the results from their research into festivals across the globe. ‘The Festival Insights Report 2019’ written by the agency’s founder Christian Hill, offers the shared opinion of 145 festival organisers on their marketing and digital brand experience. The report offers invaluable advice for festivals on how to grow their business in a crowded market space. 



Over 63% of festivals use basic tracking


The research uncovered a massive 63% of festivals, mostly those of a smaller size, employed only very basic tracking and performance monitoring across their marketing and digital experience.  Therefore, it is no wonder that many festival owners felt stressed and out of control around the effectiveness of their social media campaigns. 


Social Media is causing frustration


One of the most surprising outcomes from this research is that despite a heavy reliance on social media (both paid and organic), festival organisers were split on the effectiveness of this strategy and many festival’s marketing budgets are spiralling upwards.  This frustration was felt most by smaller festival organisers. Within the report, Project Simply offers some effective social media strategy tips, including complementing your social with the development of an owned channel, such as an App, which will improve content personalisation whilst reducing the cost of ongoing audience engagement.  


Brand partnerships are also found to be an effective method of marketing. Here festivals have the potential to reduce marketing spend via a shared brand audience and marketing channels. The festival insights report advises that a strong management of these relationships with clear objectives will help festivals save on spending. A good example of this is Sephora at US festival Coachella. The beauty brand partner offers festival-goers free and hair and make up during the event leading to a great experience. The brand and festival compliment each other perfectly by attracting the same glamorous audience.


Print and Paid for Advertising is less effective BUT so are Social Media Influencers. 


The shared consensus among festival organisers is that paid for advertising and print are less effective marketing strategies for festivals. SEO, PR, Reps and Social Media Influencers were also considered less effective. Project Simply believes that there are many advantages for festival organisers adopting Reps. A Rep is a brand ambassador who sells tickets to events via their contacts and social networks, this works beautifully when done well but needs to be correctly managed to maximise ticket sales.



Increasing costs and third party relationships are keeping organisers up at night


The overriding concern for almost 22% of festival organisers is ever increasing costs. This is being caused by a combination of factors including social competitiveness and a lack of detailed market performance tracking. This is all adding extra pressure to festivals with tight budgets and slim profit margins.


Another frustration for festivals is the on-off relationship with third party providers of creative and development services. A clear strategy is needed to manage such relationships, complete with clear timelines so all desirable outcomes are met and budgets are kept under control. Ensuring tight briefs are created and followed leaves little room for subjective differences.  


A good digital experience is key to a successful festival


The majority of festival owners believe that a positive digital experience is required to make their event a success, with only 8% of festival owners believing otherwise. The festival insight report offers advice on developing a website that performs, whilst remaining easy to use by both customers and festival marketing teams. 


How can you deliver a stand out digital experience for your festival? 


54% of festivals are relying on stand out creative to attract their customers, 16% are developing simple ticketing solutions and 10% of festivals are developing an App. Project Simply recommend that festivals use a mobile App or chatbot to encourage direct communication with their customers throughout the year to build a loyal festival community, which create ongoing revenue opportunities through merchandise and spin off events.  


Website Problems 


It is revealed that the major problems faced by festival organisers, when creating and running a website, are spiralling costs and creative taking too long. A festival line-up is constantly changing so Project Simply suggests moving to a website with a more customised flexible CMS that diminishes the rising costs of digital amends from third parties. It is also recommended that a tight creative brief is set, agreed and acted upon.  


Positivity in the festival sector!


The report saw encouraging positivity in the sector with 71% of festivals hoping to grow by 25% over the next year. This dedication to growth requires festival owners to adopt an objective led approach to their marketing and engagement with third parties. 



Project Simply, Founder, Christian Hill commented on the report; “It’s wonderful to see so many festivals predicting great times ahead, but equally concerning to see a shared uncertainty around how to forecast this success. This seems to be mainly due to marketing under-performance and escalating associated costs. From a digital perspective it’s important that festivals really get to grips with how they can grow, through better targeting and engagement of their customers. Festivals must start tracking more thoroughly so that money isn’t wasted and the cost of acquisition reduces. We look forward to working with festivals to improve their profitability.”


About Project Simply 

Project Simply is a 10 year old digital design agency based in Manchester. As UX experts, the agency digitally bring brands to life.  Working in the festival sector the team seamlessly join live events with an immersive online experience. Project Simply’s clients including Parklife, Field Day, Annie Mac Lost and Found and Dallas Festival, Lights All Night.