Experiential Marketing Data with Terry Foster from Limelight

The days of going with your gut are long gone. Today, it’s all about the data—especially if you’re in marketing. But when it comes to live events, collecting data can be enormously challenging.

How do you know how many people attended, what their experience was like, and what happened after they left?

Terry Foster is attempting to answer those questions with his company, Limelight, which offers a platform to capture and track data from experiential campaigns and analyze the results.

More information:

Terry Foster is a 20 year MarTech veteran who has worked in London, New York and Toronto. Limelight Platform is an end-to-end experiential marketing software which offers engaging digital experiences to optimize live marketing campaigns and strategies.

Our tech-stack was engineered to seamlessly integrate into existing CRM and marketing stacks, completely automating existing manual processes and increasing organizational efficiency.

In addition, our analytics engine collects real-time data-driven insight to justify experiential ROI and build lasting relationships with customers. Our solution is used for data capturing, sponsorships, auto shows, lead generation, events, trade shows, and other live marketing events. In addition, Meshh, our spatial analytics offering provides world class, location based intelligence and interaction solutions.

We help event organizers, venues and brands measure engagement and interaction in their physical spaces. Marketers learn more about how customers behave in real world environments which helps  them deliver richer, more immersive experiences.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Terry Foster 0:00
Don’t make it tough on yourself. Right? leverage the tools that are that are out there, right don’t struggle, you know, focus in on the creative side, you know, and let let the tools actually do the heavy lifting. I think that’s one thing people forget.

Alexander Ferguson 0:19
Welcome to UpTech Report. This is our apply tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Today, I’m joined by my guest, Terry Foster, who’s based in Toronto, Canada. He’s the CEO at Limelight. Welcome, Terry. Good have you on.

Terry Foster 0:25
Thanks, Alexander. Great to be here.

Alexander Ferguson 0:28
Now, Limelight platform is a company where you guys provide tools to build automated data driven live marketing campaigns. And you guys recently acquired another company mesh, which is all around spatial intelligence. So I’m intrigued for those that they’re in probably the events marketing space, that’s the that’s the biggest thing and live events that you’re wanting to get, I guess more insight where data, this will be the conversation you want to listen to and dig into. I’m curious, let’s start off Terry, what do you see as the the challenge that event marketers are facing? Obviously, we have COVID, that kind of came into play here. But we’re going to come back to events, people are getting more comfortable. What do you see as the challenge problem that event marketers are facing today?

Terry Foster 1:18
The biggest challenge they’re facing really is about data collection. You know, so in the past, you know, you have an event, you can tell obviously, how many people showed up? And then how do you quantify that they’d be okay, was a good event. Okay, people seem engaged, right. And so, you know, we’re in an age where data is king and everything can and should be measured. And so companies who have a very robust and sophisticated digital marketing system, there becomes a massive data hole, once you invited people to the event, they attend the event, and what happens after that, right, and so what what the problem we solve is bridging that gap, essentially, between, you know, pre event, post event, CRM and digital marketing.

Alexander Ferguson 2:06
And you guys are particularly focused on enterprise space. And in the past, worked a lot I think with in the industry of automated automotive, but you’re also working with banking, and insurance, those are kind of like the big main industries are focused on serving,

Terry Foster 2:22
we serve, essentially, any industry who, you know, gather people for a purpose, this is how we break it down for when your grandmother says, What do you do for a living, you know, because they don’t necessarily understand what an event is. But we are very strong in automotive. And in buying event to like in the automotive space, it could be anything from, you know, a test drive to an auto show, to attract de until some of our larger automotive clients would hold 1000 plus events in a year, you know, across a wide geography. And so scaling events like that, and understanding the ROI of those events, you know, without using a tool like blind light is very, very difficult. Let, I’m

Alexander Ferguson 3:04
curious to hear a bit more about your background. Terry, you took the role of CEO earlier this year, but you’ve been a part of Limelight for six years on the board. And you’ve been on many, many boards in much demand, help me understand, like, you’ve been in marketing for a while, right, the marketing space.

Terry Foster 3:23
I’ve been in Mark tech for a long time, I’ve been in martec, or, you know, longer than people call our tech. So, you know, I’ve worked in companies around the world, London, New York, even in the middle,

Alexander Ferguson 3:36
like marketing is always been

Terry Foster 3:39
a little bit, you know, I’m the tech is fascinating, right? So I’m certainly not, you know, on the creative side of marketing, but I’ve been part of companies who built and sold solutions to the PR industry, to the marketing industry, to the advertising industry. And so I’ve been a little bit on the bleeding edge of marketing technology, you know, for the last 20 years. And so, you know, part of the reason I came to Limelight, is you know, there’s someone, you know, one of the founders, we work together in the past, and, you know, he was leaving the the PR tech space to go into Mark tech, and what they were doing was intriguing, you know, certainly solving an issue that’s, you know, being problematic. It’s sort of the last bastion of collecting data, you know, for the marketer. It’s a at the time, it was a difficult problem to solve. And so I’ve seen the company grow over the last six years, acquiring market share, you know, digging deep into the different verticals. And there’s still a lot more to go. We were very early to market. You know, we were one of the first to market to you know, we spent a lot of time sort of educating the market as well. And so those challenges are something that are

Alexander Ferguson 4:50
intriguing. You you’ve in all the cases of Mark tech, is it there has been in the enterprise space for you

Terry Foster 4:57
yesterday, you know, so servicing some of the law largest companies in the world, you know, with their, their their challenges, right building marketing stacks, you know, where do these not so obvious pieces of the marketing stack where they fit in? Right. So, you know, event marketers? Probably wouldn’t, some of them probably wouldn’t acknowledge that there is this date again, you know, until they’re sitting at the table with their digital marketing colleagues who’ve got robust folders of data and charts, graphs, and they can tell you everything about about the consumer, right. And then they’re sitting there saying, Yeah, it was a good event. Right. And so as you know, in the modern world, you know, we’re, we’re in 2021, you know, that that’s not good enough. And, you know, the phenomenon we’ve seen during the course of COVID, is that you the experiential teams, many if they still are, in fact, you know, I’ve been seconded to the digital team. And so they’ve been, you know, really exposed to the robust data set,

Alexander Ferguson 5:58
you drive a great point that, like, you have traditional advertising used to be of TV and radio and stuff, where you just throw it out there, you see what happens, and maybe event marketing was kind of thrown in that same bucket, let’s put on events. And over all of this, hopefully, people will buy our product, because we’re putting enough stuff out, then comes along digital with minute tracking ability of each degree of conversion points, and this and that. And now it seems to be infiltrating every area, including event marketing. How long is this? Is this transition then happening? And is it readily like, is every marketing exactly these enterprise companies saying, Wow, yes, we need this? Or is it still a disconnect?

Terry Foster 6:42
They shouldn’t be saying they need this, you know, because, you know, that measuring the ROI and understanding things like attribution, you know, are critical, right? Did someone come to the event, and then make a purchase? Because of this? You know, what part of the buyers journey is? What are some of the buying signals? What are the purchase intent signals that you’re getting, from individuals interacting your brand, you know, in person?

Alexander Ferguson 7:06
Are you saying, event marketing could compete with digital marketing in the same sense of having the same amount of data and analytics as showing ROI?

Terry Foster 7:16
Well, they’re complementary, right? So you know, your digital team is usually driving, you know, the people to the event, right? Or at least the experiential team is harnessing that power, right. And so you can see the journey through the, you know, that digital lens, you know, but then there’s that black hole, the moment they get to an event, and the tech that people have been using, and then things like Google sheets or a spreadsheet or something like that, that’s sort of disconnected, there’s a disruption. You know, in terms of the mark tech stack, that happens, you know, in the live event, environment, and technology that’s been developed in the last few years, I’ve allowed experiential marketers to go beyond, you know, just a list of people who attended who didn’t attend, right? And do you want to, you know, do you want us to follow up with you Yes, or no. And the one of the ways we wanted to fill the gap beyond something like Limelight was the acquisition of mash, and understanding the way in which people interact with brands or interact in general at events.

Alexander Ferguson 8:25
You had mentioned this a recent acquisition of mesh of the spatial and intelligence spatial, Intel’s being able to know, I guess, where people are what’s happening? Let’s dive a little bit into that technology behind it, how does it work?

Terry Foster 8:43
So mesh is a technology that essentially is measuring Wi Fi pings. So when you’re out in the public, and you have your your your cell phone or mobile phone, in your pocket, or purse, or what have you, it’s constantly searching for a Wi Fi network to connect to. And so what we’ll do is set up a mesh network. So that’s where the name comes from the event and we can sort of follow you around, and it’s anonymous, GDPR compliant. We don’t know anything about you, other than you were attending that event. And these were your movements during that event, where it becomes important is you’re able to finally understand things like repeat visits, how many times did an individual come to the booth at an event? What was the dwell time, you know, use case forward be super smart wheel stands up auto shows, you know, you’ve you’ve doubled down on a certain new model, but you you’re seeing the dwell times are higher on on this model over there. And so, things even like you can finally measure passers by people are doing it by using the clicker, right, and obviously, it’s extremely inaccurate, and you can also tell how engaged They are as well to the right. So you can set up a measurement depending on how far they are from the booth and, and you can set up the different dwell times as well. So you can get quite sophisticated, until you’ll be able to then see how many people in the event, you know, interacted directly with you. And then for events in and of themselves, and we do some work for Advertising Week, didn’t do it last year, because of COVID. But the year before, and you know, for event organizers, they really want to understand, well, you know, what’s intriguing to people they want understand repeat visits, they want to know, where everybody is, during the keynote speech, are they at the bar, are they you know, in the auditorium listening to that keynote. So it’s, you know, critical to sort of understand, you know, the movement of people. And then even more critical as the analysis that goes behind, it’s one thing to have the numbers, it’s another thing to actually be able to action, the data, you know, that’s put in front of you. And that’s where mesh comes into play.

Alexander Ferguson 10:58
The thinking about this, technology makes me think of overall getting the adoption of, of leadership inside of our organization. So yes, let’s let’s do this. Let’s try it. How do you encourage adoption of a new solution when it comes to new technology itself? Because there’s always a push back of Will this work? Is it the right investment is the right time? How do you encourage adoption of new technology?

Terry Foster 11:24
For us, you know, a lot of it is thought leadership, you know, some of this the what we do is we’ve talked about before, people don’t know it exists, right? So a lot of it’s in the education piece, we put out a lot of thought leadership content, and people do interact with it. And you know, it’s almost like a an old fashioned drip campaign. And we’ve been sort of the thought leader in this space for a very long time. But then we also have the goods, the back of that we’re not just talking about these things and best practices. And so it comes down down with data. Yeah, exactly. Right. But we also tried to make sure it’s more practical as well. So, you know, right now, when we think just in terms of our audience, they think spatial analytics, spatial intelligence is a super sexy thing, you know, and then when we get a chance to talk to them one on one, they see how relatively easy it is, you know, to install that, and interact with it. And the real value comes in understanding what we can do for you specifically, you know, generic offering that is personalized, you know, per per client.

Alexander Ferguson 12:33
Being able to get that internal adoption, it’s always like, okay, we have one person is interested in trying to then share it and sell it on to your boss or the next person up, I think there’s always certain people inside an organization that naturally enjoy new ideas, new technology, innovation, and those who do not. If you were to give a piece of advice to to someone in cyber organization that they’re having to bring this up to, to their leadership brothers and sell this idea internally, in overall the concept of a new technology, what, what would you say? What would you share with that,

Terry Foster 13:13
you know, you have to have a better way to start this is, everything can and should be measured now. Right? There’s a finite amount of your marketing budget. And so you want to put the budget where it’s going to be most effective. And where you have holes in that data set, you’re guessing, right. And so in 2021, I don’t think anyone you know, should be guessing about, you know, the effectiveness of spend, should be guessing about the ROI, essentially guessing about attribution, or any of those things. And I think that does resonate with people. But some of it too, is, you know, is a little bit of fear of trying something new. And so we always start with trials, we start small, and we go big, you know, if someone doesn’t knock on our door, and immediately walk before installation of Limelight, you know, what they want to do is start smaller, and, you know, with a little proof of concept, at the enterprise level, you then have it fully integrated into people’s martec stacks, and, and CRMs. And it’s a seamless part of what they do. And for the clients who don’t need as heavy lift, you know, it’s a subset of that. And so, you know, we we are ready when, you know, the customer or client is ready, you know, we can fit neatly into whatever stage they’re at. And I think to when they start to put those things in, it starts to change the behavior right away, and then they can’t live without it in the same way you think about digital marketing started to reveal all sorts of things good, bad and ugly, right? Sometimes people don’t like those initial numbers, but then you start to manage your you know your business by those numbers. It becomes second nature. And this is also not some level of rocket science, there’s not a massive learning curve. And I think that’s what’s important about this as well, you know, it’s numbers people have and data people been dying to get for years. So it’s not difficult to convince them, you know, it becomes more of a logistical issue. When when you go to set it up. And that’s our biggest thing that we have to overcome.

Alexander Ferguson 15:30
There’s, we have a lot of other tech entrepreneurs that Listen, listen to our series, and that whole concept of getting an initial test, being able to say, hey, let’s let’s try this out, where have you found that kind of dialed in on the right size of a good test? of it’s not, it’s not too small that you can’t see the potential where it could go, but not too big that it creates a barrier? How have you found that right? Next,

Terry Foster 15:56
I find there’s a magic number, it’s $10,000. Right? $10,000 is something that is significant enough that people are going to pay attention, but not big enough, that, you know, involves, you know, multiple layers of permission. So you can if you’re an enterprise solution, right, and you can get a test in at the 10 $10,000 range, that that feels like the sweet spot. He, you know, obviously, there’s freemium models and things like that, where when you give something away for free, then you know, or even a free trial. You know, they don’t people don’t tend to be as engaged as if they’re have to pay something. And so it’s always been

Unknown Speaker 16:34
sorry, say that again?

Alexander Ferguson 16:36
Does does freemium work for enterprise?

Terry Foster 16:39
No, either, because we’ve all tried freemium software, right, it’s meant to get you to go to the paid version. Right? You will, if you’re using it seriously, you always bump up against something right. And you have to move to that next version. Right. And so I think freemium, you know, is something it’s better in a consumer model, b2c model than a b2b model.

Alexander Ferguson 17:01
But that’s powerful insight, I find that right moment where both it makes sense for you as the provider, but also the company is saying, Okay, yeah, let’s, let’s invest it, let’s try it out. actually put some energy behind it not Yeah. Well, that didn’t matter. And you don’t put any any further thought into it. Exactly. For you, as leading this forward, what are you most excited about the the kind of the future for Limelight? Well, actually, before we get to the future, I’m curious, just past actually. Because six years of it part of it, when when did it actually begin? Was it what’s the six years ago? What was the begin date?

Terry Foster 17:40
2014, you know, so, you know, the limelight itself was spun out of an agency, the founder owned. And where this idea came from Jonah Burnett and medallic, being the founder, is that he he saw a need in the marketplace for a SAS software that replicated the custom work his his team were doing for every new client, you know, and so the more progressive clients were asked for this, but it was built on a one, you know, one by one basis. And so, you know, what Jonah was able to do was build a piece of software that replicated that, you know, with the customization and everything else, that simply needed to be turned on per client. Right. And so that was the, the basis of the genesis of the business. And, you know, he was likely he was, he was essentially first to market. He saw that need, you know, super early on, and he was the first one to be able to capitalize on

Alexander Ferguson 18:39
that that idea of taking a service and turning it into SAS makes a lot of sense, because he find the repeatability that you there’s only so many variables and in many cases, and you can start to find the similarities between the two in the in this event marketing space and creating the tech around it. Were there any kind of lessons learned over the years that you kind of you’ve also as a board member over the years, you’ve probably had a little bit of visibility into that, that you guys were able to meet and then overcome?

Terry Foster 19:11
Well, it’s a typical challenge of any startup, right. So I’ve been part of the startup community in Toronto for the past 15 years. And I’ve sat at the table with super innovative forward thinking people who are just a little bit too early. There was a fantastic company I was involved with who created HubSpot, before HubSpot did but you got to be right place sort of right time. And be able to sort of be able to survive that period. Right. So I think for Limelight, you know, the first few years they were super early to market. Right? And then and so it’s all about Yeah, it’s all about it’s all about timing. And so you know, these guys were skilled enough to That when the market wasn’t ready, they were still able to acquire clients, and all those beachhead clients, you know, you grow on, right? So that very first client was the hardest one to get. But if you get the right one, then you can build off of it.

Alexander Ferguson 20:18
That’s that that is a powerful piece of knowing the right timing, but getting into that first client to be able to serve, and then you grow from there. So it’s, do you feel the timing wise, because you talked about the role early? Do you feel that the timing is here now like is COVID accelerated the focus of a more analytical based event marketing, or data focused event.

Terry Foster 20:43
So in times of crises, you know, and I’ve been in Mark tech space, from the time of, bubble, bursting through the Great Recession, etc, I find in times of crises, what immediately follows when budgets come under pressure, is proving the ROI. It’s never failed to be sort of the the outcome of that. And, you know, as we go into recession, and things like that, and people are cutting those budgets, it’s extremely important to prove that the money you’re you’re deploying is effective. And so I think what we’ll see after the sort of initial boom, over COVID, we may see, you know, the market cooling off a little bit. And that asked for that return on on investment will be there. And then finally, tools now, to be able to do that Limelight is not the only experiential tool doing this. Now, there, there are a few others. But the market is is very large. And I think that will only help all of us. That situation that will see,

Alexander Ferguson 21:46
competition isn’t always a bad thing, it actually proves that there is a market. And that there is a need and demand. But I appreciate the whole concept of after something major goes on and people are looking around. That’s when the question is, are you generating revenue, and the need for tracking ROI is there and that’s where tools like like this come into play? It’s coming back to an earlier question I was gonna ask you is now what are you excited about moving forward from here, and what’s coming up for for you at Limelight?

Terry Foster 22:18
I think for us, we were super excited about the acquisition of mash, you know, we finally have the complete solution. You know, mash really is top of the funnel, we’re working on some interesting things together, there was a natural fit between the companies anyway, and had been friendly for years. And so it made sense that during the quote unquote, quiet period of COVID, you know, that, you know, we were in discussions about coming together. And we were able to make that happen. And so, you know, for us, it really becomes a game changer. And it puts us in in different verticals. Because meshes appeal is broader than experiential, and they do a lot of work in sports sponsorship space, as well as in retail. And so, you know, we have some combined offerings in both those spaces, the spaces as well, you know, that we’re shortly going to launch. So I think to for for the team needed to have colleagues, you know, beyond Toronto, New York, and in sort of Vancouver and San Francisco, where we were, we now have colleagues in Sydney, with colleagues in Europe, so allows us to connect with those markets quicker than we would have. So I think that’s where the excitement for the business lies in near term near term for sure.

Alexander Ferguson 23:43
The future of an event experiences for consumers, anything you can pontificate or or predict, in the near future, a couple years or even 510 years from now.

Terry Foster 23:57
I think the experiential is only going to grow you people love experiences, right? So we’ve seen in the last few years, that people would rather invest in experiences than anything else, you know, in their personal lives. And people’s personal lives are always mirrored in their professional lives and beyond, right, so this is where experiential comes into play in the b2b space as well as in BC. And the companies who do it extremely well. It leaves an impression on you that you wouldn’t be able to recreate in any other way. And then also, I think, for COVID, it’s proved that, you know, people are dying to be together, you know, maybe dying is the wrong word to use. But, you know, ever been cooped up for such a long time. You know, people want to be together. And I think, you know, certainly the scars of COVID will linger long enough to be able to take advantage of that fact alone. And so, you know, cover businesses are going to be able to double down on that and do some incredible things. And they’re going to need tools to do it at scale, they’re going to need tools to prove the ROI, they’re going to need tools to understand how to enhance these things going forward.

Alexander Ferguson 25:12
The power of tools, and every use case is only going to grow in the right. As long as you have the right tool for the right, the right way for what you’re doing. a fun question I always like to ask every person is, are there any apps or tools, personal ones that you enjoy and like to use? The more cheaper ones, whether it’s personal or business?

Terry Foster 25:31
It’s a good question. Right? What I like these days, honestly, the Alexander’s that sort of everything’s on my phone. So every app that we use, or, you know, anything we use for business is on my phone, like expensify. And things like that does make things you know, super, super simple. You know, the the apps that are interesting to me, are those tedious admin apps or admin tasks, rather, that are made easier with with your phone. So expensify is one of them. You know, everybody hates doing expense reports. So, you know, that’s got to be, you know, one of my absolute favorites in the business sector. And then beyond that, it’s, it’s like things like Instagram, right? Which is a window into when you curate your feed well enough, it’s a wonderful place, when you’re little lazy with it, it’s an awful place.

Alexander Ferguson 26:18
a follow up question to this is, is there anything you truly hate that you wish there was an app for it to solve it for you?

Terry Foster 26:27
I can’t tell that to you, because I could be our next business. So that one, I’m gonna hold that one. You’re gonna hold that one? Yeah.

Alexander Ferguson 26:35
I love it. It’s usually that the challenge is the things you hate that that produce great business ideas, Lucian Tara, that this is this has been powerful to hear both your own focus and energy in this space and where you guys are headed and fascinating for this this focus on spatial analytics and and this acquisition of mesh and where you guys are going if you were to leave any word of wisdom for an event marketer, that, that they should keep in mind that going forward coming out of COVID? And what coming up, what would you share?

Terry Foster 27:10
Don’t make it tough on yourself. Right? leverage the tools that are that are out there, right, don’t struggle, you know, focus in on the creative side, you know, and let let the tools actually do the heavy lift. I think that’s one thing people forget to write. You know, there are tools out there. You know, I would say that, you know, line line, religion, natural leave a lot of the heavy lift in the same way. expensify that’s too, right. We’re going to take away then the stuff that is difficult to do and then also deliver you results that you’ve never been able to get before.

Alexander Ferguson 27:45
For those who want to learn more, you can head over to and looks like to be able to to get a demo and explore what they do. Thanks again, Terry, for your time. This is great. Fantastic. Thank you, Alexander. And we’ll see you all on the next episode of UpTech Report. Have you seen a company using AI machine learning or other technology to transform the way we live, work and do business? Go to UpTech And let us know


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