I arrived at Ad:Tech around 8:30 - everything was easy and the free WiFi is handy. It's great to see a stack of bloggers and people Twittering regarding the keynotes and panels and it's clear to see that digital media is a far bigger deal in the US than it currently is in AU.
Keynote 1: This is Not Your Fathers Kodak
This opened proceedings and saw Drew Ianni from AdTech as well as Jeffrey Hayzlett from Kodak speak.
Ianni started things off with a little chest thumping - telling us Ad:Tech SF for 08 has had over 14,000 registrants ... up from just over 10k in 07. Amazing numbers. The keynotes are happening in the Ballroom of the Moscone North Center - it's about 3,000 capacity and it was around 80% full for the Kodak keynote.
Ianni introduced the underlying theme of the conference as 'How is digital media transforming ALL media' ... and so far both keynotes have tried to address this. Ianni explained that was time goes on digital media won't 'mature' per se, but more so 'evolve in waves of consolidation.'
He also spoke about the 'Mobile revolution' and commented that this would not take place until downloads are affordable and most impotantly accessible ... regardless of how many handsets are in circulation.
He spoke as well about the MS/Yahoo merger - he likened MS to a 'schoolyard bully' that has basically ran out of friends after 20 years of posturing ... and he also touched on PR firms now actively entering the digital space.
So what is the next big thing? Well according to Ianni it's 'realigning organisations to execute in a digital world' ... which is definitely on the agenda in AU with plenty of agency management types talking up this exact mantra with enthusiasm. Whether or not it's lip service or PRing remains to be seen.
Jeffrey Hayzlett was up next and was a great speaker. He's a big guy - 6'3" and probably about 300 pounds ... which was equalled by his charisma. He was responsible for the Winds Of Change Kodak video that did the rounds a while ago - http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=GtYXGY4wB-0
For Kodak, 70% of their total revenues come from 'digital' products and 60% of their total revenues are from b2b ... which was surprising given most would associate Kodak as a b2c brand. The rule for Kodak now is 'If you can't be either number 1, 2 or 3 then don't participate' and what really shocked me (I am not sure why as I am sure this is the case across a lot of companies) but 2 years ago 50% of their current products didn't exist!
Hayzlett talked about 2 key marketing rules.
- Is anyone gonna die?
- Are we going to be break the law?
If the answer is 'no' to both an idea can be considered.
He feels that 'marketers exist to create tension' and his role is to push people - Internal and external - to the edge ... without pushing them over. This raised an interesting point and one I think extremely relevant to most media people - are you pushing your clients ... or are you looking to give them 'what they want' ...
Hayzlett spoke about the importance of retraining staff if you want to redesign how you communicate with consumers. You need to create an organisation open to change ... when Hayzlett joined Kodak he only brought with him 1 person ... his team was made up almost entirely of existing marketing staff.
Kodak have pulled out of the Olympics - a relationship they have had for a long time. Hayzlett felt that it was 'no longer relevant' in a digital age. Kodak want to be a 'fast digital company' and the premise of the Olympics (only every 2 years and short duration plus huge expense) meant given Kodak's want to be more digitally focussed and also the shift from being b2b from b2c meant it was a no brainer. Instead Kodak has partnered with the US PGA to create a sponsorship they feel they can activate more inline with their needs.
He calls these 'blended campaigns' and believes the notion of a pure 'broadcast campaign' is irrelevant. He has even created a role under the title 'Convergence Media Director' to ensure for all comms online is considered (ie with talent, rights, budget etc). Smart idea.
He also spoke about ROI being paramount but didn't have the opportunity to really elaborate on this - which would have been interesting because most of his examples were more 'brand' than DR in my opinion.
Keynote 2: The Art of Conversation: Building Great Brands in the Digital Age
This was more a roundtable/panel featuring players from Nestle, Levi Strauss, Neilsen, MTV and Sony as well as a token Agency guy.
I thought a few of the panelists here didn't have much to offer. Jordan Warren from Agency.com was excellent ... he added a good dose of reality to the discussions and you could tell that he was speaking from experience not just giving the audience a few cliches. Jordan called Agency.com a 'Digitally Led Integrated Marketing Shop' ... which I thought was a good descriptor and shows that in the US 'digitally led' is now the norm ... not 'digital' ... the pigeonhole is now gone.
Todd Cunningham from MTV didn't offer much aside a claim that 'MTV had been doing this for ages before anyone else' ... which I would think many in the audience would have disagreed with. He did, however, say that MTV were going to release a definitive meausrement on 'engagement' and I liked his point that MTVs bloggers were now the strongest consumer touchpoint and the whole idea of 'consumer insights' and how these are measured and accumulated has changed.
Rick Clancy from Sony was solid - he has a blog (http://news.sel.sony.com/electronicsblog/) worth viewing.
All panelists spoke about 'Authenticity' and how you create that ... Rick Clancy touched on those who are involved in these social media channels in a marketing sense need to go from a 'we' to I' mentality - and put their own beliefs on the line - totally agree.
Jordan hit the mark by saying 'the best place to get consumer insights is from consumers' and all agreed that if you don't faciliate dialogue with consumers (through fear of negative sentiment or due to legal red tape or whatever) someone else will do it. Being involved on a corporate level should be seen as 'offering balance' rather than taking control.
Beth Thomas Kim from Nestle spoke about traditional CRM being 1-way inbound ... and needing to move to 2-way outbound communication ... actively seeking out dialogue with consumers rather than passively responding only when prompted.
The million dollar question - how do you measure ROI on social media ... no real answers there.
Session3: Power Panel: The buyers weigh in
Very informative panel with some management types from Optimedia and Starcom amongst others ... no real direction but it addressed really well some very important topical issues in the traditional 'media agency' landscape
Pre-roll and Streaming Video: Running 30 sec TVCs online isn't necessarily a bad thing because of a perceived 'user experience ' ... the main issue at hand is running a 30 second TVC is a waste of the potential the medium offers. There was a shared want for the sophistication of video advertising to improve.
Social Networks: Mixed banter re networks but some believed these aren't necessarily Advertising platforms. 'Just because a publisher has an audience doesn't mean advertisers have to use it ...' Hulu - the new Fox/NBC video site was explained by one as classic absorb media ... not a digital platform but moreso TV the way it should have always been.
Advertising: 'Just because you can ad stamp a page does not make your site an ad platform.' Interesting considering the rush now to vertical ad networks.
Premium versus remnant: The gap between the 2 is so large because the gap in spending between the 2 is so large. Publishers utilise remnant strategies when required to maximise revenues ... so do clients, they utilise cheap remnant to generate quick ROI to enhance reporting. One panelist estimated only 10% of digital advertising revenue is actually 'brand' ... and many big CPG/FMCGs are still only dedicating 2-3% to digital.
Search: Mobile search was considered by all as a quick area for growth. It is utility based, doesn't require high bandwidth or big screens ... it was also discussed that many marketers will become more sophisticated when measuring search - ie, not considering search spend directly accountable for all results achieved through search engines - being able to measure and track the effectiveness of ALL MEDIA through search data and analytics. One panelist said digital had a problem with the naivety of data ... lots of clean, easily digestible data but minimal application and commercial value. Reporting and analysis needs to improve - it needs to relate back to strategy and business objectives.
Economic downturn: There was a shared consensus (these were media people after all) that an economic downturn would be positive for digital media as it would placed heightened awareness on ROI and tangible value ... from both response, data and consumer insights.
What is media?: The idea of a 'publisher' has changed ... brands are now media. Or they CAN be media ...
Vertical networks and the future of 'reach': The concept of mass reach through a Yahoo/News/MSN etc will be redundant and the new 'mass reach' with contextual relevancy will come through vertical networks. The single destination will disappear but the concept of buying large amounts of eyeballs through one buy will remain. They cited Glam Media as leaders in this area.
So now it's 1:27, sessions start again at 2:15. Off to get some lunch now! Stay tuned for another update in a few hours.