Highlights from 3 Conferences

I have been to three industry conferences in the last 2 weeks:

  1. FutureVision (Sept. 16, Chicago)
  2. The NY Times Small Business Summit (Sept. 23, New York)
  3. Advertising Week (Sept. 27-30, New York, tag line: “Get Out of Your Head“)

All three provided a lot of information and — at various moments — insights.  In these challenging economic times,  there is one silver lining:  people are talking more, exchanging ideas actively and trying to figure how to manage “The New Normal”.

FutureVision was by invite-only and produced by Lyris,  the technology company I use for email marketing and analytics.  The one day session was jam packed with information and insights.  Some of the best moments included:

  • David Daniels of The Relevancy Group revealing some surprising stats, such as 52% of email marketers still do not target their messaging geographically and instead subscribe to the “spray and pray” strategy.
  • James Meers of the The British Museum Shop describing how his site’s Welcome Program pop-up has grown email registrations by 20%+ in just one year.  Excellent presentation and v-e-r-y Brit-ish.

The NY Times Small Business Summit featured some outstanding speakers, the best of which was Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.  He regaled the crowd of 800 with the story of how he and Ben Cohen started the company after taking a $5.oo mail-in correspondence course on ice cream making and then somehow got bank financing and rented a former gas station as their first store.  The only question afterward was whether such serendipity and luck can occur in today’s business climate.  Hmmm.  Another high point was a panel that included Paul Downs, founder & CEO of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers.  Paul writes a blog for The NY Times about the struggles of a small business trying to survive in a tough economy. It is called Staying Alive.  See his posts. He is engaging as a speaker,  and his message of survival is topical.

Advertising Week — tag line “Get Out of Your Head” — was a smorgasbord of sessions, speakers, panels and locations.  60,000 advertising professionals from all over the world.  Agencies, brands, technology providers — everyone connected with the industry.  I didn’t run into a single executive from a traditional media property though.  (I find that surprising and little troubling.)  The locus of the event was The Times Center,  which is where all the sessions I attended took place.

Here are the highlights.

  1. Best presentation: Designing An Agency for the Digital Age – Nick Law Chief  Creative Officer and Barry Wacksman , Executive Vice President Chief Growth Officer R/GA.  Brilliant and visionary.
  2. Best spontaneous Broadway song during a presentation: Carolyn Everson, Corporate Vice President, Global Sales and Strategy, Microsoft Advertising, who during ‘Pushing Entertainment in the Digital Age’,  brought out several Broadway performers who burst into song with an amusing ditty — piano accompaniment, dance steps, harmony and all.  She even had a cameo in the can-can line.
  3. Most insightful discussion on the future of agencies:  Stop Talking and Start Listening – Tapping Into The Collective Intelligence.  This panel featured Brian Collins, Chairman & CCO, COLLINS:, Michael Lebowitz, Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship, Ty Montague, Creative Director, Co. All had valuable  perspectives on how the big agency model is being broken down and left behind.
  4. Best quote:  “The future is a team sport.”  – Ty Montague,  regarding crowd-sourcing and the new agency model.
  5. Best (and simplest) Social Media insight: “think about what OBJECTS or PROMOTIONS marketers can deliver to FaceBook that deliver value to the social system and its people…” – David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect
  6. Key mobile media insights:  (i) by end of 2011 there will be more smart phones that regular mobile phones  (ii)  by end of 2013 more web access will occur via mobile than via computers
  7. Most interesting factoid: Android will eclipse iPhone by 2012.
  8. Best summation of the advertising industry today:   “We are at the beginning of an era where marketing will be more and more DATA DRIVEN and intelligent vs. MASS MEDIA and “scatter shot”.  Geico’s marketing is scatter-shot.  Amazon’s is targeted and data driven.  The question is: how will the distribution mechanisms change.” – Greg Rogers, CEO & Co-Founder, Pictela
  9. Most interesting question posed to an agency panel:  “What place does a 50 year old creative director have in today’s agency model?” During Stop Talking and Start Listening.
  10. 2nd best quote: “”The purpose of advertising is to help consumers decide”. – Quentin George, Chief Digital Officer, MediaBrandsSimple,  but true.

In my next post I will report on SMX – Search Marketing East conference.