ON24 Launches Virtual Show

ON24 is expanding beyond traditional corporate webcasting with its new Virtual Show product. Think of Virtual Show almost like a Second Life for trade shows, only without the avatars and full 3-D world. Customers can create customizable digital convention floors where attendees can log in, visit virtual booths, watch live-streamed or on-demand online video demonstrations and network with other virtual attendees.

With rising fuel prices and a depressed economy, it’s not hard to see the cost benefit of hosting a trade show online. The average mid-to-large company shells out about $550,000 a year on trade show expenses. ON24 says hosting a virtual show will cost a company between $20,000 and $50,000 to produce.

ON24 isn’t alone in this space, Unisfair and GoExhibit both offer similar services, and some companies like IBM have used Second Life to host digital trade shows.

While the technology is there and the benefits are appealing, I’m a believer that trade shows are more than just a collection exhibitors and demonstrations. They are about connecting with other people in your industry face-to-face, shaking their hand — and getting them drunk. That’s something you just can’t do virtually.