Conference Media: From Cost Center to Profit Center

We all know that video and multimedia production can be expensive. From hiring a videographer through to the editing process, the cost for a simple 3-minute video is something many would balk at. However, with the right strategy and planning in place you can turn that cost into profit.

So, how do you create content that’s effective AND affordable? It’s actually fairly simple. 

At Association TV, many of our clients hold live events every year (in-person or online). As part of their year-long content strategy, we would attend these events with a team of videographers and producers to capture the assets necessary to create content for an entire year. While live events are canceled or postponed, the model we used can be modified for hybrid and virtual events as well.

This can offer cost savings in two key ways:

  1. Reducing the cost of content production - Since in-person events often have members, speakers, industry experts, staff and board members in attendance it is the ideal place to do interviews. These individuals can be scheduled to provide interviews throughout the event drastically reducing the cost of filming them individually. In a virtual event environment you can repurpose the recorded session content and distribute it to a larger audience, monetize with CE credit, or repurpose into micro-learning episodes. Again, making your resources multi-purpose and driving down the cost of content production.
  2. Having more content to monetize - Promotional projects and sponsorships can offset the cost of content production as well. By creating conference or daily recaps of the event, which are written and edited on-site (like this for example), or capturing vendor sponsored content, associations can add different levels of sponsorship for partners or exhibitors to purchase creating new revenue streams.

These content production and cost reduction strategies were originally developed for in-person events but the same thinking can be applied to virtual and hybrid events as well. Below, we will explore both in detail.


First, let’s look at an in-person event model

The MHI (Material Handling Institute) conference, MODEX in Atlanta, Georgia (for example) is one of the largest trade shows for the material handling industry. As such, many industry thought leaders, leading suppliers, and strategic partners attend - including the MHI leadership team. When planning for this conference, the first thing MHI and Association TV did was create a schedule for multiple interviewees throughout the event. Some spoke about only one subject, while others touched on several topics critical to the industry, such as the effect of advanced mobile robotics or drone delivery on today’s modern supply chain. By capturing these educational interviews throughout the event, when everyone is in one location, we are able to drastically reduce the costs of filming this content individually, and generate more content. Videographers are typically booked in half or full day increments, so the more interviews you film, the lower the cost-per-asset will be. The interviews captured at the event will be used to create on-demand videos and podcasts throughout 2021. 

Having reduced the cost to produce each video by capturing the necessary interview footage early and at one time, the next step was to record the daily recap videos and conference footage, which would be filled with sponsored content to offset the cost of hiring the film crew, and can be used in promotional videos for next year's conference.

For example, here’s the recap from Day 1 of MODEX 2020, presented by Swisslog:

MODEX 2020 Day 1 recap screenshot

As you can see, there are several sponsorship opportunities built into this video; Presenting, Premium, and Featured spots, each offering their own benefits. Exhibitors were contacted to purchase these sponsorship slots, which allowed MHI to offset the cost of videographers at the event and gave exhibitors a chance to speak directly to the audience, which included event attendees and members watching at home.

This type of arrangement is accomplished easily and helps you become a stronger strategic partner to potential sponsors. You are helping them to be recognized as an expert by your association members, and creating a more organic relationship that benefits both of your organizations.


Now, let’s look at virtual or hybrid event strategies.

When planning your virtual or hybrid event, it is especially important to consider how your content is being delivered. Is it going to be live-streamed, or will it be pre-recorded? As you plan your content, think about how you can extend value strategically. 

If you are pre-recording content, use that opportunity to interview the subject experts at the same time you are recording their presentations, helping you build the library of assets needed for a year-long content plan. If there isn’t time for a full interview, you could ask them to answer one question on a hot-topic in the industry and string that sound-bite together with other speakers. Be creative! (Shameless plug: if you are not sure where to start, partners like Association TV can help.) 

If the content is being live-streamed, hit the record button. This session can then be used in an on-demand offering that will extend the reach to a larger audience. For example, the Lutheran Education Association (LEA) recorded their conference sessions and repurposed that content on-demand with gated access for members who had registered for the event and wanted to review the content. But it didn’t stop there. They also provided members who did not attend with the opportunity to purchase a post-event digital pass, giving them access to that same content. This allowed LEA to not only reach a larger audience with the conference content but to also continue generating revenue from that content, even after the live event had finished. 

Another monetization opportunity comes in the form of Continuing Education. The Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP) also repurposed their conference content but in this example with open on-demand access. Instead of offering a digital pass, they allowed anyone to view the content but, if you wanted to take the quick quiz to receive CE credit it had to be purchased through the ANFP marketplace. With this model, ANFP was also able to extend the lifetime of their content, provide additional value to their members, and generate revenue post-event.

[If you are looking for more ways to generate revenues from multimedia, check out this short video.]

Winning Strategies to Monetize Multimedia.


When creating an in-person, virtual, or hybrid conference there are a number of opportunities to fund a larger strategic content calendar, extend the exposure of the conference content, and provide two-way sponsorship solutions. In-person conference content can be converted to online offerings and an online conference can be extended in new, creative ways. As a matter of fact, with attendees at the virtual conference already being directed to your digital platform, it’s likely that your event will reach an even larger audience. Members that normally would not make it to your in-person event can now tune-in and engage with that content from home. This format also offers your sponsors more visibility and data, making ROI easier for them to measure. 

Embrace a strategy that will expand your content offerings, reduce costs, and make you a strategic partner to your sponsors. For more on strategies to effectively monetize your content, check out Chapter Seven of our book.   

For more expert advice on designing virtual events and navigating your organization’s digital transformation check out our Association Insights series.
Analog-to-Digital Cover
Chapter 7: Funding Change. Your Multimedia Content Can be a Profit-Center

Your sponsors are looking to be a content provider. Much of your multimedia content is ripe for monetization. By being strategic with your content, you can plan to be revenue positive.- click here to get your free copy today.



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