Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category


Jan

13

Excitement around the mobile web was palpable at 2012 International CES. While consumer electronics hardware and product launches dominate headlines, CES has quietly become a must-attend event for digital media and marketing professionals, many of whom were in attendance this year for the first time.

With dozens of sessions on mobile content and marketing at Digital Hollywood and other CES conference tracks, the Las Vegas Convention Center was abuzz with discussions about delivering quality mobile experiences to consumers while efficiently capitalizing on the channel for marketers.

What follows is a summary of insights from some of the best minds in mobile content and marketing who appeared on panels I attended throughout CES.

“Mobile technology is enabling an important and disruptive transition in content distribution, and interactivity, as content becomes aware of users and consumers have a greater ability to interact on multiple devices and from any location,” said Jeff Demian, research strategy and business development director at Intel Labs.

Creating contiguous experiences and measuring behavior were recurring themes throughout the week, as marketers prepare for the onslaught of a multi-screen universe and the need to create compelling, tightly integrated content while catering to the unique characteristics of each platform and device.

Content and Revenue

Saul Berman, global strategy and change leader at IBM spoke about the consumer experience needing to be additive, and in so doing, how it forces the “devaluation and revaluation of content.” In other words, changes in distribution and payment models may result in less revenue per eyeball in the short-term, but leveraged across an entire publishing enterprise, can become an even more valuable asset over time.

Murray Solomon, vice president, digital business development at Time Inc. validated Berman’s assertion, saying early indicators suggest its all-access model of providing both print and digital versions of its 21 publications at a single subscription price is paying off. Bryan Moffett, vice president, digital strategy and sponsorship operations at National Public Media noted how more than 100 million streams of PBS Kids content on the iPad didn’t cannibalize its web streams, and that with ten to 20 percent click-through rates on the iPad, digital is “leading the conversation and resulting in big radio sales.”

Daniel Tibbets, vice president, digital media, Bunim/Murray Productions, says it’s the quality of content that matters most. “Product decisions need to be made on the basis of what consumers want, and their needs to be treated in a way that is unique to each platform.”

Mobile Advertising

Although today’s banner ad paradigm is understandable, display on mobile won’t be effective for long, as consumers demand a deeper experience. Andrew Maltin, CEO of mobile development studio MEDL Mobile, says ”the most engaging apps are technologically advanced and highly interactive.” Cameron Fiedlander, vice president and director of creative technology at Designkitchen/WPP Group notes “we’re seeing mobile formats evolve into deeper, more socially-driven experiences, making mobile display much less relevant.”

Steve Yankovich, vice president of platform business solutions and mobile at eBay, points out that “consumers will dismiss ads altogether if they get in the way of their intent to do something else.” The solution is to have better contextual and geo-fencing capabilities. According to Time, Inc.’s Solomon, “there is no reason why an immersive advertising experience with applications is not also possible in the same way which ads are viewed as valuable content to magazine readers.”

Context Matters

While the need to create a great product is always implied, context may be even more important in mobile.

“If content is king, then context is queen,” says Ashley Swartz, senior vice president marketing at Digitas. “Mobility gives content creators the ability to know more about their audience, and to include the audience in unique ways that before now were not possible.”

Consumers want to pick up the experience where they left off on different devices, and marketers need to be ready to accept them at those nonlinear entry points, while at the same time moving them through a story line or a funnel that ultimately results in some desired action.

Lori Schwartz, chief technology catalyst, North America at McCann Erickson says the near future is going to be all about “long-tail narrowcasting and less about broadcasting. “If you can build a community of uber-influencers down that funnel, it’s possible to create micro-franchises around brands.”

The Year of Big Data

Notwithstanding a slew of legal and regulatory concerns, also on the minds of mobile marketers is the use of real-time data and how it can be used to create relevant brand experiences. While panelists were quick to coin phrases like “the year of big data” and “data is the new creative,” few specific solutions were offered.

On the contrary, caution was urged when considering integration of social graph data into applications. Schwartz suggests pulling data from social media APIs into a custom solution a brand can control for its own brand experiences, rather than integrating in ways that could leave brands vulnerable to the decisions of social media platforms in the long run.

Martez Moore, executive vice president, digital media at BET Networks, says media and brands “need to be very thoughtful about how to integrate third party data that could potentially cannibalize their CPMs were providers to leverage that data too.” Instead, Martez says BET uses social to market, promote and engage traffic, which results in the ability to sell ads at a premium around shows like 106 & Park.

Production Trends

From the production standpoint, the industry is embracing HTML5 as a baseline when developing across platforms, but recognizes there are still gaps in functionality that must be addressed. In the meantime, hybrid approaches are emerging and native apps for iOS and Android are still best when it comes to creating feature rich experiences. While some, like eBay, still develop for Blackberry, Sol Lipman, senior director, mobile at AOL says the BlackBerry PlayBook has “fallen off a cliff statistically for AOL.”

On the issue of whether to develop on multiple platforms concurrently, Lindsey Turrentine, editor in chief, CNET Reviews, points out “these are difficult choices and you have to be very smart about how to proceed. We started with iOS Native hybrid HTML5 approach.”

Swartz suggests building with an eye toward reach and ubiquity, but to do so with a dose of pragmatism. “It’s expensive to develop and promote an app in a world where 60 percent will open it once and never go back, and where app discovery is still an issue for lesser known brands.”

Strong distinctions are also being drawn between developing for mobile phones and tablets, with several describing the iPad as the more engaging experience. Chrisophe Gillet, product manager at Fanhattan, describes mobile as “a start and stop experience,” where users get the information they need and then put their device away,” whereas tablets “have become more of a companion device due to their more comfortable form factor.”

Mandar Shinde, director, mobile monetization at AOL also sees tablet co-browsing as a big phenomenon, citing 50 percent more browsing traffic in the evenings, presumably while consumers are also watching television. The complexity and lack of tools for accurately tracking the integrated viewer behavior across devices was also raised as an issue yet to be resolved.

Growth Through Collaboration

Top of mind for agency executives has been improved collaboration and breaking down silos that prevent marketers from achieving their goals and giving consumers the best of what the medium has to offer. “We’ve been living in the construct of television versus digital for too long,” says Schwarz. It would be a mistake to cannibalize television for digital. We need to look at it more holistically.”

So how do we do we get there? Alexandre Mars, CEO, Phonevalley and head of mobile at Publicis Group suggests all of the agency stakeholders – creative, digital, media and mobile – need to be part of the conversation. Only then will everyone get the budgets required to achieve the goals of marketers and to create more powerful experiences for marketers.

Yahav Isak senior vice president, project management at Digitas Health, says “everything is digital — it’s really more about understanding the different channels of digital marketing and how they can best be integrated.”

According to Tibbets, “the only thing we are limited by is bandwidth and our imagination to create amazing immersive experiences.”

 

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Posted in Advertising, Conferences, Content, Data, Entertainment, Integrated Marketing, Marketing, Mobile, Social Media, Technology


Oct

27

Warrior-Preneur Ann EvanstonOne of the joys of independent consulting is the opportunity to learn from a wide range of companies and the many solutions providers who stand ready to serve them. For startup CanaryVoice, we identified that social media savvy moms are likely to embrace its unique voicemail greetings service, leading us to explore the “momosphere” and participation in the BLP CONNECT! conference where “warrior-preneur” and marketing consultant Ann Evanston gave an inspiring keynote on “The Power of Connecting.”

Her request for audience feedback on the meaning of “connection” elicited a wide range of responses, including: growing relationships, personal converstions, face-to-face meetings, follow-up, support, cameraderie, resources, interest and attention. According to Evanston, connection means “creating an energy that draws people to you.” Pull not push marketing. Inbound, not outbound marketing. Energetically, YOU are what creates your brand, which is distinctly unique from the product you sell. YOU make your brand unique and special, and as such you can program marketing activities to create an energy that attracts customers to your brand.

While the emphasis of Evanston’s talk was geared toward an audience of women entrepreneurs and guiding their use of social media, every marketer can benefit from thinking more about ways to energize and connect with their audiences, no matter what the product or the size of the marketing budget. If the word for 2010 was “authentic” and in 2011 we are talking about being “transparent,” the word for 2012 will be to “humanize” your brand, according to Evanston.

So how do you go about humanizing, connecting and energizing your brand? Here were my take-aways from Evanston’s motivating talk:

1) Create polarity in your marketing. Ho-hum marketing is average and safe — be brave, be memorable and be yourself!

2) Understand that multiple “buying types” exist and that you need to appeal to all of them while being ready to refine your pitch once you determine which buying type you are dealing with. Diversify how you connect by creating different ways to tell your story.

3) Think with abundance, not in scarcity mode. Doing so will help you attract like-minded people who want to do business with you. You will create connections you never thought possible, that will lead to an even greater number of customers, referral partners and promotion opportunities.

4) Let go of the fear. Fear of success, fear of the money you can really make, fear of polarity, fear of that first Tweet. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting the things done you need to do to drive your business forward.

5) Create a step-by-step plan comprised of systems and processes that develop revenue…and, of course, give Ann a call to help!

There is nothing more powerful than the energetic connections an entrepreneur can make when she tells her story with authenticity, honesty and fearlessness. Whether it’s in a selling situation, a speech or social media marketing, let go of the fears that are holding you back. There is a world of partners, customers and advocates out there just waiting for you to make powerful connections that will help you grow your business.

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Posted in Advertising, Blogging, Brand Marketing, Conferences, Events, Internet, Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media


Sep

21

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead

Shervin Pishevar of Menlo Ventures shared this quote to characterize to the Silicon Valley culture, just before announcing the Menlo Talent Fund on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last week. He described it as a “quick decision angel fund” to help entrepreneurs launch their ventures with up to $250,000 in seed funding. With a prominent “Jedi Council of Mentors” and eight companies already funded, he claimed to fund within 24-72 hours of a pitch and offered to “back your dreams and change the world together.”

While this sort of rapid funding approach sounds enticing and may accelerate the deal process and help VCs avoid missing opportunities, it seems like little more than an option to me and not entirely strategic. The Menlo announcement gave way to an interesting discussion about the role of venture capitalists and their relationship with entrepreneurs.

What do entrepreneurs really want from VCs? According to host Michael Arrington, they of course want money, but they would also like for their VCs “not to screw it up,” suggesting they should stay out the way until the companies really need them. Put more diplomatically by other members of the panel, startups should expect their investors to add some intrinsic value to the venture, not just their money. According to Joe Kraus of Google Ventures, there was a time when the VC’s role was primarily to help hire the senior management team and make business connections. Today, he said it’s also about knowing what the business needs and teaching the skills they know best and young entrepreneurs aren’t expected to know yet, like how to hire great engineers.

James Slavet reiterated the point by explaining that venture capitalists aren’t necessarily good at everything, the same way no single employee can do everything. He challenged entrepreneurs in the audience to identify the areas in their relationships VCs where you can get the most value and to understand value can show up in different ways at different times. Slavet predicts the future of venture capital will see fewer firms investing in companies at a wider range of stages, but said it’s hard for a VC to be a generalist and said operating experience, flexibility and specialization within a particular category will always be useful at any stage.

There was a general consensus among the panel that the physical proximity of a startup to its venture capital partner matters to its success, based mainly on contacts and the notion that not being in the same market slows down a company’s ability to hire and limits the number of potential exit opportunities. Arrington suggested this may be more symptomatic of Silicon Valley investors being lazy. After all, there are startups all over the world who are plenty successful. Regardless, it was a poignant reminder that even in our connected world, success comes down to trusted relationships and doing business with people we like.

Wherever a company or its investors or based, venture capitalists should be able, and expected, to make valuable connections for their portfolio companies. Everybody’s money is green. It’s the money that adds the most value to a business that matters most.

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Posted in Conferences, Technology, Venture Capital


Apr

15

I’ve been thinking a lot about cause marketing lately, and based on her recent IMPACT post had fully expected Arianna Huffington to touch on the subject during her keynote address at ad:tech San Francisco. What I didn’t anticipate was to hear so much passion and such a commitment to connecting journalism and online advertising to a higher calling for humanity. 

In an inspiring speech that quoted great poets and thinkers, both dead and alive, Ms. Huffington plainly laid out the case for embracing cause marketing, capitalizing on the power of local media and reminding us all of the importance of disconnecting for our own health and productivity.

Just as Shakespeare kept to the formal constraints of the sonnet, she suggested that today we must find ways to use the tools of social media to tap humanity and the noblest part of ourselves. Echoing Guy Kawasaki’s talk the day prior about moving from engagement to enchantment, she encouraged us not to dwell on those things that are disfunctional and suboptimal in our world, but to focus on the what is being born all around us today that allows us to connect at a deeper level than ever before.

As an example of cause marketing, she cited the Chivas Regal “Live with Chivalry” campaign where the value of nobility is used to sell whisky. If marketing and advertising is a leading indicator of what’s happening in our culture, we need to identify its meaning and tap into this large and profound trend.  We are moving to an era when doing good is not just good for humanity, but also good for the bottom line — where it doesn’t just affect our business, it affects our lives.

Expressing disappointment in the mainstream media, she spoke of how they have let us down by not focusing on solutions and placing too much emphasis on what is not working rather than so many things that are. Whereas mainstream media suffers from ADD by only covering a story for a brief time before abandoning it, in digital we have OCD and the ability to cover stories obsessively until there is a solution.

This is made even more powerful when we engage our communities at a local level. Local, she said, will bring together communities at a time when the media is increasingly more disconnected than ever from our lives. All human existence is local, and that’s where people trust what’s going on around them and feel empowered to get things done.

Taking pride in quoting will.i.am and Shakespeare in the same speech, she referenced a comment he made about how in “the olden days” we consumed news on a couch — today we consume it on a galloping horse. Reinforcing this idea at the local level, she spoke about plans to replicate a popular Greatest Person of the Day feature on the Huffington Post by creating the Greatest Person of the week throughout Patch sites in more then 800 cities. We are longing to connect with each other as human beings at the same time there is a greater explosion of everything life, and that’s why AOL is betting on local.

Finally, she spoke about the need to disconnect from our hyperconnected existence and to unplug and recharge. We can start by simply getting enough sleep and cited “overwhelming medical evidence” about how essential it is for our health and our creativity — likely a tough concept for the always-connected ad:tech crowd.

In closing she cited third century Greek philosopher Plotinus and his teaching about knowledge, wisdom and creativity. And knowledge has three degrees: opinion, science and illumination. The Internet has addressed opinion and science, but not illumination. Many of the leaders running our government, media and financial institutions have very high IQs and access to all of the data and information in the world. What they are missing is illumination, which is ultimately about wisdom.

“My crystal ball sees more explosive wonder, combustible energy to more truth, transparency wisdom, enchantment…and much more digital advertising!”

The entire speech is available online here:

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Posted in Advertising, Cause Marketing, Community, Conferences, Integrated Marketing, Internet, Philanthropy, Social Media


Nov

8

imagesWith a conference the size and importance of ad:tech, each attendee is likely to give a different answer when asked ”so, how was the show?” From my perspective, ad:tech, along with the industry it serves, is alive and well. Now in its second year at Javits Center, ad:tech New York has never been short of attendees, with around 13,000 pre-registered for the show last week (Nov. 2-4). 

Typically the signal-to-noise ratio at ad:tech is so bad it requires you to speak with 1o people to arrive at a single qualified conversation on the show floor. But I’m pleased to report that the efforts of ad:tech chairwoman Sarah Fay and the DMG management team to pull the show back from the brink of being an affiliate vendor-fest appear to be working. During the couple of hours I walked the floor, in addition to at least three prospective CPA/CPL advertisers, I met representatives of Pepsico and Vonage, both of whom seemed open to new opportunities. Exhibitors echoed this sentiment, which was great to hear since even with a booth, introductions to big brands are unlikely unless prearranged.

While my primary focus was to evangelize ValueClick Media’s recent advancements in data, audience targeting and optimization technology among press, clients and digital opinion leaders, I did a fair amount of listening too, and came away with a few themes worth sharing:

  • The ad:tech conference is healthy and so is online advertising. No recession here, thank-you-very-much and knock on wood.
  • Social commerce is hot, with some mentioning the Gap ‘deal’ by name.
  • Questions abound regarding how, when and where social, mobile, local and search intersect with meaningful traction.
  • Lots of buzz surrounding the Rubicon/FAN and Specific/BBE deals, rumors of AOL buying Dotomi and other video consolidation anticipated.
  • A prevailing attitude of “enough already” when it comes to the over-labeling, shiny-button syndrome that seems to plague our industry. People are ready for consolidation and until then want to simplify the silos in ways that can make it easier for brands to buy from digital media providers.

If you are in agreement with the last point, you should love the video investment banker and savvy online self-promoter Terence Kawaja posted during the conference. Enjoy!

For more information from the conference, the ad:tech blog is always a good read.

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Posted in Brand Marketing, Conferences, Display Advertising, Online Advertising, Online Marketing, Venture Capital


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