The cancellations of the Montreal and Toronto auto shows, announced this month, seem like a bad omen for other events that have gone digital.
The shows, scheduled for January and February, were reinvented as online-only happenings, like so many other events in the COVID-stricken year. But too few automakers wanted to participate to make it worthwhile. Those that chose to sit out the show directed their digital funding into standalone initiatives, Jason Campbell, the general manager of the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, told Automotive News Canada.
That's a problem that resembles the conundrum that major international shows have struggled with in recent years, even before this novel coronavirus started running amok.
Companies considering a high-tech display and splashy presentations like to have data to back that kind of spending. A favored metric in that world is "share of voice," which measures how much industry coverage in a given day or week is about a particular company or brand. It's a measure that seems destined to punish big auto shows. If 20 or 30 companies are all making news, it's unlikely that any one of them will get a large share of the coverage — and if one does, then all of the others get disappointed and jealous.