DIDS 2024:
How a Non-existent
Person Addressed the
Audience in Belgrade Live

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Below is the interview of Dragana Pešić – Lević, which this portal published about the recently implemented project Internet Domain Day of Serbia – DIDS 2024.

The media in Serbia reported the news that on March 12, 2024, a special person appeared in Belgrade – an exceptional expert in the field of deepfake technology, who addressed the audience of the “Serbian Internet Domain Day – DIDS” conference.
There was, however, a good reason for so much attention from the media and participants of the conference organized in the large hall of “Dom omladine” – the person who gave the keynote lecture – did not exist.
The fact that a Belgrade conference, among the first in the world, had a keynote lecture generated by artificial intelligence (AI) was the reason for a conversation with Dragana Pešić-Lević, director of the Event and PR agency “Blink”.

What makes Blink special?

Blink is a PR agency specializing in event organization, public relations, and media relations.

Since 2008, the portfolio has more than five hundred successfully implemented projects – organized events – large conferences for which we are specialized and media campaigns “tailored” to the needs of clients from various fields. The agency and its team are recognized on the market and among clients as ‘IT guys’ within the industry, which we are very proud of.

Experience and knowledge in the field of high technologies and the Internet attract clients who need a PR and event agency that understands their needs, specifics, and essence, but also details related to their business.

What is RNIDS and what is the nature of your cooperation with that foundation?

The Foundation “Register of the National Internet Domain of Serbia” (RNIDS) manages the register of national Internet domain names .RS and .СРБ and Internet infrastructure of special importance for the functioning of the Internet in Serbia.

It is important to point out that RNIDS is the organizer of the annual conference “Day of the Internet Domain of Serbia (DIDS)”, which every March gathers experts in the field of digital technologies and the Internet, who, as speakers, panelists and visitors, discuss topics of importance for the development of Internet technologies, but also general social development.

In its 15 years of existence, DIDS has become the most significant regional conference dealing with Internet topics. The meeting gathers hundreds of visitors, is supported by more than 20 media sponsors and every year it records a large number of publications in the media.

The agency has been cooperating with RNIDS since 2010 and since then has been making sure that the picture of the Foundation and its activities becomes clearer to its target groups.

The Internet Domain Day of Serbia represents a kind of annual culmination of our strategic cooperation, which is reflected in the preparation and realization of that event, as well as the media support and reporting that follows after the event.

You were with the client during all 15 held conferences. What were the particular challenges for DIDS 2024?

There were quite a few, but we see challenges and problems of different types and severity at every event we organize.

Right before the initial announcement for the media and future visitors, we had to decide to change the venue of the conference. The choice fell on Dom Omladine, primarily because of the number of seats, the size of the hall, and the excellent technical equipment of the venue itself.

Can you single out anything else…?

We had the unfortunate coincidence that most of the potential media speakers were on the business trip during the preparation of the event. We solved this by providing the possibility for media houses to record or interview person from a remote location with the help of platforms for transmitting images and sounds via the Internet in real time.

Also, in addition to colleagues from the Foundation, there are other media speakers – participants of the conference, who had to be prepared so that, in addition to the announcement of their topic, they also talk about other topics that await the visitors of the conference.

How did you announce the expert who did not exist would address the conference?

I think that was the most difficult segment of the event preparation because we were not allowed to announce something we were preparing as a key feature of the conference.

We wanted to surprise the audience and the public – because of the announcements, everyone thought it was an “ordinary” keynote speaker, and the secret that Emily is not a real person remained undiscovered until she addressed people through the screen. After that, the audience was addressed by the team that created Emily as an AI persona (avatar) using artificial intelligence, precisely for the needs of DIDS 2024.

We could only share the information that we would be one of the first in the world to have a person created by artificial intelligence as a keynote speaker with journalists/editors whom we knew well, with a promise not to spread the information further.

It remains recorded that in Belgrade, among the first in the world, a personality generated by artificial intelligence addressed the audience of a conference as a keynote speaker.

How was the media preparation for DIDS 2024?

Two months before the start of the conference, we started to acquire the support of as many media sponsors as possible who addressed the target audiences of the conference to ensure constant information flow to the public.

Among the media sponsors, it was necessary to contract the support of all types of media: TV stations, radio stations, print media, and web portals.

In addition to traditional media, sponsored announcements and announcements on social networks were also used as a communication channel. The goal was to secure a large number of applications and fill the hall of the Dom omladine.

45 days before the start of the conference, once every 7 to 10 days, 5 media releases were published, which brought the conference program closer to potential visitors, as well as one report after the conference.

Ten days before the start of the conference, an invitation to the media was distributed and the contracting of media opportunities for guest appearances and announcements began, along with finding solutions to the challenges that arose.

What results did you achieve?

  • 23 media sponsorships were contracted
  • 40 people from the media attended the event
  • Among them were: 5 TV crews, 8 of the 10 most visited web portals, daily newspapers, business and IT magazines, and radio stations.
  • Over 20 media statements and interviews were recorded on the day of the rally, on the spot
  • The number of announcements was the highest in the history of DIDS (over 280)
  • The commercial value of achieved announcements (AVE): over 200,000 euros
  • Reach: over 34 million people
  • More than 400 visitors were gathered on site, and more than 1000 views of the live broadcast of the conference on YouTube were achieved.

In the discussions of participants and viewers of the conference via the YouTube channel on social networks, an undivided sentiment was expressed that this year’s DIDS was the best compared with all the previous ones. Do you agree with that assessment?

They are all equally dear to me so far, but according to both qualitative and quantitative metrics, DIDS 2024 represents the most successful edition of the conference for all 15 years so far.

The exceptional media coverage and reporting from DIDS 2024 raised it from the level of a highly specialized gathering to the level of an event that attracted the attention of the general public and mainstream media.

I believe that RNIDS has become more recognizable on the market thanks to the DIDS conference, with which it has such a long continuity. We set the bar for the next DIDS 2025 very high.

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