Archive for the ‘Conferences’ Category

I’m honored to have been featured on the Chief Marketing Technologist blog in a Q&A with Scottagiliti_framework Brinker.

This is definitely one of the best marketing technology resources on the web, and I highly recommend subscribing to the blog if you’re not already an avid reader.

The Q&A was focused around our digital transformation work — getting beyond the buzzword. 

This feature was a small preview of a session I’ll be presenting at the first MarTech conference in Boston this August. Hope to see you there!





ommaYesterday was the second OMMA Social conference hosted by the fine folks from MediaPost. I moderated a panel that focused on strategy titled “As Social Media Grows, How Not to Miss the Forest for the Trees”.Marketers and agencies tend to focus on the “shiny new thing” – first it was MySpace, then Facebook, now Twitter, and there were even the moments of Second Life (ugh) and other platforms and digital sub-channels. At some point in the not too distant future it will be something else. Additionally, platforms like Wikipedia and Flickr and YouTube and Delicious all have a place in our arsenal of presence, as do some of the smaller second tier social sites, but most marketers don’t seem to methodically determine objective and develop strategies, but rather run into these channels simply because consumers are there and they need to follow. Aftrer all fishing where the proverbial fish are is what us marketers do, right? But without a strategy for the long term fundamental shift in how brands can engage consumers in social media, taking into account the multi-disciplinary nature of these platforms, companies may be headed in the wrong direction due to shortsightedness.

The official description and panelists that I hand selected for this important topic of social media strategy are below. The audience was full of laptops blogging and tweeting the conference, maybe more so than I have seen before. In fact here is a great blog post that summarizes our panel.

As Social Media Grows, How Not to Miss the Forest for the Trees  
Tweets, Facebook apps, MySpace pages, YouTube channels, and blogging are all trees in a large social media forest, and given the forest’s increasing density, it’s getting easier and easier to get lost. In fact, many marketers are jumping into the channels and tactics of social media without spending enough time focusing on objectives and strategies. Marketers and agencies will discuss how to use the channels that fit their strategies, rather than let channels dictate them.  

Jason Heller, EVP, Laredo Group  
Ian Schafer, CEO, Deep Focus 
Shiv Singh, VP, Global Social Media Lead, Razorfish 
Denise Sposato, Director of Communities, H&R Block 
Don Steele, VP, Digital Marketing, MTVN Entertainment Group  

You can read the Twitter stream for all Omma Social posts (#ommasocial) here.

Apparently the video of the panels will be up in a week or so here.

dgdYesterday I had the honor of being the emcee for two half day conferences, DigiDay Mobile & DigiDay Social. During hard economic times, the turnout for these conferences was actually almost shocking. I was amazed to see a standing room only crowd as early as 7:45am.  This was the first mobile and social media conference for DM2 Events (soon to be renamed DigiDay Events, I believe), run by Nick Friese, formerly of MediaPost & OMMA.

If you couldn’t make it in person, there were many attendees in the audience posting play-by-play sound bytes via Twitter, and others blogging about it. Presentations will be available via slideshare as well.

While it was a long day chock full of interesting presentations, I’ll whittle it down to a few paragraphs…

DigiDay Mobile

The mobile conference kicked off the morning discussing the elephant in the room – the economy. The main take away was that although many marketers still look at mobile as an experimental channel, usage and adoption among consumers is still increasing. The ability to easily integrate mobile into an overall marketing mix presents tremendous opportunities to engage consumers.

The presentation that resonated most with me and many of the conference attendees was by Jeremy Wright from Nokia (co-founder of Enpocket, which was acquired by Nokia several years ago). Jeremy provided a truly global perspective of how ubiquitous and powerful the mobile channel has become, how in emerging markets the mobile web is THE web, how the world is becoming clickable, and how reach matters (imagine that).

DigiDay Social

This was a fun event to emcee. Social media marketing is the hottest topic in the marketing world today. Everything is becoming infused with social media tools and experiences, and the tipping point on diving into the social media world is behind us. It is no longer a “nice to have” capability for an agency, nor an ancillary tactic for marketers – social media marketing has become its own discipline and requires the strategic planning and acumen as any other marketing discipline.

The opening keynote for the social media conference was Scott Monty from Ford.  Scott has become a social media brand himself and has helped Ford become a leader in social media for the automotive category. His keynote focused on how Ford uses various social channels to connect with consumers. Ford’s positioning is “Drive One” and their social media positioning is “Meet One”.

Other notable presentations included a case study by Don Steele, VP Digital Marketing for MTV Networks, who preached engaging consumers where they habituate online. The four pillars of MTVN’s social strategy: Organic, Smart, Engaging, Honest. It was great to hear about how MTV works within and monitors social networks, social bookmarks, picture and video sharing sites, Wikipedia and more. This was one of the few holistic presentations I’ve heard in a while. Way to go Don!

The panel on social media measurement and ROI, as expected, was a highly tweeted panel. Although there are no standards for measuring social media ROI, it’s become a given that as any business investment, it has to have a return, even if the return is hard to measure and part of a bigger picture – which of course social media is on both counts.

The last panel of the day was about “What are you doing/buying right now? Where can you get the best ROI on your social marketing investment?” – this panel reflected the advertising side of social media, a topic not discussed for most of the day that focused on the marketing applications versus advertising. Although audience members probably wanted to walk away with a short list on what to buy beyond Facebook and MySpace, not many specifics were discussed. Although mainly focused on advertising, the panel reminded the audience that social media is still about providing value to the consumer  and engaging them in the right manner. A solid point driven home was that the “click” is inherently an anti-social behavior – why make someone move away from a social activity they are participating in (not that anyone is foolish enough to use clicks to measure anything, right?!?). Panlist Eric Wheeler, CEO of 33Across helped to end the panel with a great line that he quoted from David Olgilvy  “Never stand between a client and their drink.”… and a lively cocktail hour (or two) followed!

See you at the next event!

oanToday was Media Post’s first iteration of a conference specifically focused on the topic of ad networks. (OMMA Ad Nets) I moderated a panel entitled “”Buyers Place Their Bets: Are Networks Living Up to Their Hype?” (details on the panel at the end of this post).

You know, sometimes one can get caught up in the sizzle of social media and mobile and all the great new media channels to reach and engage consumers, and lose sight of the steak of the mainstream digital media world. Today was one of those days that reminded me about that, and the several billion dollars generated by ad networks each year. Ad networks were once a mundane source of cheap remnant inventory at scale, but have seriously evolved. Vertical ad networks are aggregating audience contextually, while horizontal ad networks have become purveyors of sophisticated technology, algorithms and data, which helps agencies and marketers reach specific audiences  based on a myriad of criteria. We see the application of data and technology to media and audiences evolving constantly. Some prime examples – AOL’s purchase of Tacoda in 2007 helped to create the largest network on the internet, Platform A, and more recently Akamai’s recent acquisition of Acerno to “…benefit the ecosystem of ad networks, online publishers and Internet advertisers by providing them with real-time, actionable data to serve more relevant marketing messages”, as stated by Mike Afergan, Akamai’s chief technology officer and SVP of Advertising Decision Solutions.

As a digital media-ologist, if you will, one theme stood out the most today at OMMA Ad Nets…

The large scale media agencies will eventually all have their own ad hoc networks: Data and technology are not only intrinsic to the network model, but competition is pushing the envelope. Soon we will see some of the data ownership shift to the agencies. There is tremendous power and efficiency when you control the data. Apparently, Havas Digital claims to have profiled 1/3 of the internet population and now issues “open insertion orders” for multiple clients at once. Their controlled data points dictate which client’s ads to serve against any given impression.

Don Epperson from Havas Digital was very upfront about it – in fact his keynote focused on Havas’ adNetic product that they developed to control the data and develop ad hoc networks, while other agencies were not as willing to share their strategies and direction in the regard. But make no mistake about it – the big agencies are stepping up. Scale is always a point of discussion when it comes to ad networks, behavioral targeting and generally applications of online advertising technology. Well, if it’s scale you want, look no further than the big media agencies.


Buyers Place Their Bets: Are Networks Living Up to Their Hype?
After hearing the horizontal and vertical nets debate their case, our panel of media buyers enters the fray. Do they buy the arguments from the vertical networks that they curate and cultivate specialized content so advertisers get better and broader reach for niche audiences? Is this vertical inventory really more valuable to a buyer than the targeted remnants from a horizontal channel? Which of these models is aggregating the mid and long tail most effectively? Vertical networks help smaller and independent publishers get better CPMs. They are designed to capture what they hope are more engaged and receptive audiences for advertisers. Are they living up to their own hype? Is this argument over content quality important to buyers, or are most of them still just buying any kind of lightly targeted eyeballs? Our panel of media buyers and marketers explore whether the many offerings represent a fad or a model and whether more value really is being injected into the marketplace.
Moderator: Jason Heller, EVP, The Laredo Group
Lauren Boyer, Partner and Chief Global Strategist, Underscore Marketing
Russell Fradin, President, Adify
Shane Kay, VP, Digital Negotiations Director, Ford Motor Media
Joanna O’Connell, Razorfish NYC
Nate Woodman, SVP Strategic Development, Havas Digital

Blogged live by Joe Mandese

Ok, I’m back after taking a few weeks off the blog. Hated to do that, but my crazy schedule made it necessary. It’sTexting sometimes hard to live a busy and successful life and still find time to blog about what’s going on…I do what I can!

I also wish I was kicking back in with something that I’m less jaded about, but here it goes…

What’s with all the hoopla over Sarah Lacy’s interview of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival? Big deal, she did a bad job…um, hello…how many conferences can you say that all the panelists, moderators or featured speakers did a great job these days? I am bored out of my wits at most conferences.

The “Twittersphere” was on fire you say? Ok so SxSW Twitterites united and got the word out to the 10 people that read each of their Twitter postings…(insert sarcastic tone) well that’s damaging. The use of Twitter at conferences is nothing new, nor will it change the marketing or content worlds.

According to many reports, journalists, and bloggers, this “phenomenon” equates to the integration of real time social media merging with conference activities, thus changing conferences forever?  Give me a break! First of all, I can’t see the average conference attendee using Twitter. Besides – anyone with a blog or Facebook profile can update it from their mobile device or their wireless connected laptop (god bless the wireless card). My jaded comments about Twitter aside, I do use Twitter…although I haven’t quite figured out why yet. It’s almost fun, and definitely not quite useful yet. If you want to follow my Tweets, I’m JasonDPG on Twitter.

So again, what’s all the fanfare about? A boring conference is a boring conference, and a bad moderator is a bad moderator, period. We don’t need Twitter to help us out of that bind. Thank god for smart phones! I spend more time reading and sending emails from my phone, and walking in and out of conferences to make phone calls, than actually listening to most of the mundane, overly simplified, self serving or otherwise useless content at most conferences.

Note to conference organizers, moderators and panelists — Stop catering to the lowest common denominator and cater to the upper echelon of thinkers and you’ll automatically have a good conference. Let the masses catch up, because the innovators won’t dumb down!

Ok so maybe conference content and activities do hit the social fabric of the web with a level of immediacy never seen before – but what doesn’t?  Social media immediately captures and reflects the going-ons within society and fragmented pop culture, and of course Twitter happens to be sitting on the edge of that immediacy curve.

I don;t want to perpetuate the hype around this issue, but in reading a few Tweets, I discovered this BitStrips piece about the Zuckerbeg interview at SxSW that was pretty funny. Bitstrips is a new service that has an interesting potential future ( so I figured I’d share…if you got one thing out of this entire Lacy/Zuckerberg media circus, maybe this is it – enjoy.

Advertising Week has officially kicked off in New York City. Advertising Week

Media Post Publications is hosting the popular OMMA, a two day event (Mon & Tues.)culminating in the OMMA awards ceremony for the best online ad campaigns of the year on Tuesday evening. Simultaneously, the IAB’s MIXX conference is also going on Monday & Tuesday. If I only had a clone…

 I will be moderating the following panel at OMMA:

The Future of Behavioral Targeting Starts With the Limitations of the Present
This panel will address the current scale, metrics, revenue/cost implications and effectiveness of Behavioral Targeting from both an advertiser and publisher point of view. Representative stake holders from the agency side, publishers, and networks will address current limitations of BT, and a representative from the technology side will speak to where it’s headed based on the key learnings and limitations of today’s marketplace.

Panelists: Jason Heller, Laredo Group (moderator), Dave Morgan, Tacoda, Greg Smith, Echo Target, Jack Smith, 24/7, Joseph Weaver, Media Storm 

There are plenty of events and conferences going on all week. They range from traditional to digital and emerging media, and from formal conference tracks to hip and extravagant parties. If you’re in NYC and not attending at least a few of the Advertising Week functions, you’re missing out on the industry coming together to share and learn about the forces driving the dynamics of marketing today.

See you at OMMA!

The OMMA Video conference hit New York yesterday, as media and marketing executives from agencies, marketers and publishers all took in some of the learnings from those who are on the forefront of making it happen with digital video.

I moderated an interesting panel called: Getting the Bug: When Video Ads Go Viral. It was quite a discussion. Attempting to tap into the “YouTube” phenomenon, marketers have been trying very hard to make their campaigns achieve a viral effect, and have tasked their agencies with the same. But the crux of the issue comes down to “viral” as a tactic. We discussed how the focus should be on creating good, compelling, and entertaining content. If it resonates, it will “go viral”.  We used some cool examples, each having a diffrent story, approach, brand attribution, outreach program, and ultimate result:

Ray Ban / Never Hide
Diet Coke & Mentos (one of the earlier ones)
Human Skateboard / Sneaux Shoes
Criss Angel / Freak Your Mind

So what is the forumla for a marketing asset to go viral? It’s part creative, part marketing outreach, part riddle wrapped in an enigma? We discussed the fact that the current state f the viral video market is skewed towards the younger fragmented pop-culture segments – in other words, you’ll be waiting a long time for the viral AARP video. So where does this approach fits into the marketing plans of brands that reach different targets. It sort of doesn’t. Come on guys – we as marketers fit too many square pegs in round holes.

We touched on the subject of investment levels, measurement and the ultimate impact on branding and sales of a brand’s products. The net net here – keep investment levels sound, integrate with other activities, don’t bank solely on a video or other marketing asset being a viral phenomenon. Even if the content is great and is supported by outreach, it doesn’t guarantee hundreds of thousands or millions of views, or consumers engaging in blog chatter and conversations about the content. If the content is good – you will acheive some of this effect. Video sharing sites, blogs and other platforms that allow for collective experience are the new version of the “water cooler effect” of yesteryear. Focus on the content, the message, and the brand. Don’t try too hard, don’t over-invest. It’s either good or it’s not.