Buyer's Guide … the one with the Encyclopedia!

The RP Photonics Virtual Exhibition

Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta

Recently, we have introduced “one more thing” – an important new resource in the RP Photonics website: the Virtual Exhibition. We are of course not the first to have created a virtual exhibition, but we have carefully worked out a concept concerning design, feature set and integration with our other online resources. We believe that this expansion will bring profound benefits for users, suppliers, professional societies and publishers, thus also further strengthening our leading role in digital photonics marketing.

I am happy to explain the concept. You will see that it is not just a quick shot, but a carefully thought through enterprise which can further extend the generated real value for the photonics community.

What is Offered

The actual virtual exhibition is presented on a new web page, which offers the following features:

exhibition floor
Figure 1: A partial view of the virtual exhibition floor plan. Users can move the displayed section, zoom in and out, etc.
  • At the center, there is the exhibition plan, looking like the floor plan of a real exhibition of substantial size. It contains mostly the virtual booths of over 1400 suppliers, plus various additional informational elements as explained below.
  • The users can select a particular product category (e.g. non-laser light sources) to see a virtual exhibition hall with only those suppliers having at least one product in that category.
  • Usually, the display starts with an automatic random tour flight, giving a nice overview. This can be stopped at any time, switching over to a manual mode where one can move around, for example just by dragging with the mouse.
  • There is also a helpful search functionality. You can identify a particular product and get the booths of all those suppliers marked in green which offer that product. From there, one may also get to the buyer's guide listing of suppliers for that product, which is better suited for a concrete search of suppliers. One can also search by supplier names; if only a single one is found, one automatically moves to its booth.
  • An ordinary booth only displays the company name, and a supplier mini-profile appears when one clicks on it. From there, one can get to the supplier profile page in the buyer's guide.
  • Suppliers having our ad package have a much improved booth with a larger size, showing their logo, a profile image or a tailored image for that purpose (if available), and some randomly chosen product images. Also, there can be additional gadgets for displaying a company video, company news or news on a particular product. (Most suppliers need some more time to utilize the new features.)
  • Various places within the floor plan are occupied by informational items, mostly from RP Photonics itself. We can display additional items from other parties, but restricted to things of general interest, not e.g. product promotions.
  • On the right side of the floor plan (fully visible only after moving to the right, see Figure 2), there is a wealth of additional information offered on the RP Photonics website.
  • Below the floor plan, we have an event calendar for events like scientific conferences, exhibitions and also online events.
overview on the exhibition
Figure 2: The exhibition floor (here for the product category nonlinear optics) with additional informational items on the right side and the event calendar on the bottom.

The Purposes of an Exhibition

Most of the presented information is in principle already contained in our buyer's guide. Nevertheless, it is useful to offer this additional perspective, since an exhibition has profoundly different purposes from those of a buyer's guide. While one would usually prefer the latter when doing a concrete search for suppliers of a particular product, the purpose of an exhibition is just to look around and pick up various items of information. For example, you can see what suppliers are around, which ones are particularly prominent, what news they have, etc. Besides, you can find additional interesting things, e.g. useful articles, information on upcoming events and the like.

This is similar for real exhibitions: usually, you would go they are not with a concrete plan to search for a particular product, but rather just to explore what is going on in the industry and to get new ideas and perspectives.

Of course, one important aspect of real exhibitions is largely missing so far: the opportunity for direct contact with the personnel of suppliers and with other visitors of the exhibition. We have some ideas in that direction already, but it will take some more time to work out such plans, also discussing details with our advertising customers.

Integration with the Buyer's Guide and the Encyclopedia

An important aspect of our concept is the strong integration with other parts of our website:

  • The strongest link is with the RP Photonics Buyer's Guide, which also delivers all the supplier data. Users can easily switch between exploring the exhibition floor and working with supplier listings in the buyer's guide. At various places within the buyer's guide, they become aware of the exhibition.
  • There is also an integration with the RP Photonics Encyclopedia. Encyclopedia items are placed in the exhibition, while encyclopedia readers are made aware of the exhibition. Note that this also creates a link between science and industry.
  • Our newsletters (like this one) inform on the new features, while the exhibition makes more people aware of the newsletters as an convenient instrument for staying up to date.

This integration creates important synergies. For the users, it is obviously very helpful that the three resources are so well interconnected. Also, the chances of the virtual exhibition to become really popular depend heavily on visitors coming over from other resources of our website, which are already immensely popular.

Opportunities for Everyone

I think that the virtual exhibition provides interesting new opportunities for different types of participants:

  • First of all, our readers have another nice tool for exploring what's going on in the industry.
  • The value of our advertising package for suppliers is further increased. Already before the introduction of our exhibition, with that ad package one could create many more sales leads than with any other digital resource in photonics. By the way, the additional features come without any additional cost; to the contrary, we currently even offer our coronavirus crisis discount, so that our customers are obtaining more value for less money.
  • Further, we have started to invite professional societies and publishers to participate. For example, they can advertise their membership benefits, publications and events. We offer a special form of ad package for them, which in the introductory phase is even free.

So we have created a place where professionals of all categories come together and can exchange information in fruitful ways.

More to Come

Additional ideas come up faster than we can implement them. There is definitely more to come.

Suggestions for additional features and improvements are welcome; just contact us if you have any inputs or want to discuss ideas.

Please think about who else should read this. And finally:

This article is a posting of the RP Photonics Marketing News, authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta. You may link to this page, because its location is permanent.

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