Case study: Some interesting stuff from the DLD Conference 2012

Founded in 2005 by the German media house Hubert Burda Media, the Digital – Life – Design conference DLD has been established as one of the major crossover conferences that span a wide range of topics. It is clearly inspired by the success of the TED conferences, although DLD is much more on the commercial side.

DLD has become a benchmark event brand with substantial PR impact – so let’s take a look at some of the particularities of the event that may be inspiring for other conference organizers!

The latest edition of the conference took place in Munich/Germany, 22-24 January.


You can’t just purchase tickets for the 3-day conference. On the website, you apply for a ticket, and when the organizers think you’re fit, you still have to pay 2.750 EUR plus VAT to get your badge. Quite a strict policy, but it contributes to the overall feeling of taking part in something really special.

Strategic Partners

Being a media house with lots of glossy publications and websites, Hubert Burda Media is obviously searching for new business models. This conference is one of them. It gives strategic partners like Audi, Microsoft, HP, Siemens, Lufthansa, Telefonica and Booz a presentation platform, and since the topics are quite broad, there is always a chance to give the CEOs of those strategic partners a speaker slot.

This may be a risky strategy from a curators standpoint, because buying yourself into the program of such a conference can backfire both on the sponsor and the organizers. There is a very thin line between a sales pitch and a useful contribution. Yet, when you combine various media outlets with a real-life event, you can create attractive packages for a strategic partner or sponsor.

Speakers / Curation

DLD is not a vertical event, it covers a whole range of topics. Let me refer back to what I said in my post about TEDx RheinMain: A good choice of speakers, with the “big names” as well as great performers on board, does the trick. I also recommend to read this interesting post by Gianfranco Chicco about how to find great speakers. One of the success factors of DLD is the date: Just before the World Economic Forum, they manage to intercept high profile speakers on their way to Davos.

DLD goes public

This is really a good idea. When you have such high profile speakers attending your event, why don’t you use that leverage to take your event brand out and go public? DLD brought the founder of Skype to Munich university, and thus achieved a great branding effect with students – the audience of the future. This is something that associations and conference organizers should really consider doing, because it won’t cost you much, the speaker is already there and you can only benefit from it.

Video interviews

I strongly believe that conferences of relevance need to have a rich media strategy in place. DLD has a great Youtube channel with lots of interviews, trailers, they even did a live-streaming. TED does the same. Will that reduce the number of people wanting to attend your event in person? I do not think so. Broadcasting your event contributes to the relevance, to the “must attend” factor.

DLD Connect: Digital Directory

Such an event needs to offer a lot of attractive digital offerings, and Hubert Burda uses their own channels as well as partners to create digital event platforms. Ranging from

With so many offerings, it is important to let the audience know what is there and where to find it. Something as simple as the DLD Digital Directory helps to keep track.

Bottomline: DLD is a commercial event, unlike TED. It is about value generation for the partners and sponsors, and ultimately about business networking on a high level for the attendees. Hubert Burda Media have done a great job at establishing a prestigious event brand, and that makes this case study worth taking a closer look at.

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