Thursday, April 23, 2009

My day at ad:tech SF yesterday

Yesterday I spent a sunny day in SF indoors *sigh* at ad:tech SF at the Moscone Center.

There were flat screen TVs around the entire event that displayed a Twitter feed dashboard, showing any mentions of @adtechsf or #adtechsf. That was fun to watch. But following the Ashton and Oprah Twitter media hype last week, it was not surprising to see this actually.

In the exhibition halls, every other booth was an ad network offering to marry content publishers with advertisers! It was unbelievable. Everybody had their different spin on it, but not being a real "media" guy myself, I didn't realize how many of these were out there or maybe it was just what ad:tech attracts.

I hit the morning Keynote Roundtable on the State of the Industry, moderated by Randall Rothenberg, IAB. Rothenberg had some good questions for the panel, which included execs from MySpace, CBS Interactive, Coca-Cola Company, and Denuo. They included:
  • Do agencies provide enough insights to clients?
  • Is the creative "big idea" still important and can it come from anyone in the company?
  • Where is video headed? Where will Hulu be in a few years? Will niche sites like survive?
He also suggested there was a different east vs. west mentality in the industry. East = Madison Avenue, creative, media side. West = Silicon Valley, technology. I agree! Carol Kruse from Coke actually viewed herself as the matchmaker to close this gap. Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO, Denuo, believes agencies need tech companies to survive. True.

Let me digress for a moment about Rishad, who turned out to be a pretty funny guy...for a math major. But that may be why I liked him since I'm a mathie myself =) But he also claimed that heavy users (which i interpret as your most loyal customers) do not equal the most vocal online users. He also thought most of the conversations were from pissed off consumers. In the online conversation data analyses we've done at iCrossing, I don't agree with this blanket statement. In fact, most conversation is neutral. And the positive and negative quantity is very much based on the product category. Some industries just solicit more negative chatter than others, such as online security software. But he also said we have to move away from thinking about campaigns and more about ecosystems. That I do agree with and preach the same thing. We need to move away from "social media campaigns" to how can my client be a part of and support the "social media ecosystem"?

I also sat in on a good media panel called “Defining the new media currency: how to bring traditional media metrics online.” You can read about that on my post on the iCrossing Great Finds blog.

After lunch I hit the Content Marketing Strategies: How to leverage social media to exponentially grow your audience and bottom line. Just a couple of tidbits from me. The Huffington Post has done a great job leveraging...dare I say it, "web 2.0" technologies. James Smith from Huffington talked about the benefits he's seen from stumbleupon, co-branded polls, and Facebook Connect. It was also good to hear some of the things that haven't worked. One panelist said she came up with a fancy, creative widget, tested it and found it didn't work. And when they developed a simpler content syndication widget, that seemed to work best. K.I.S.S. prevails again, I guess =) Overall, it was a good session if you're a content publisher. I heard a lot about growing the audience and traffic, but wish there was more discussion on the bottom line, based on the panel title.

After a long day at ad:tech, it was nice to step outside and still catch the beautiful sunset by the bay!


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