Day 2 Recap

Innovation Days 2012

View: Day 1 Recap | Day 2 Recap

IAB Innovation Days @ Internet Week:
Day Two Recap

The morning of day two, Randall Rothenberg opened the session citing four themes that emerged over the course of Day 1 of Innovation Days and during Internet Week. Marketing organizations are evolving into thought leadership centers for their companies, becoming R&D hubs. He noted the emerging tension between the push for customization and fragmentation in marketing solutions, and on the other hand, standards and scale, particularly the scale of social media. The rise of the multitasking consumer is bringing issues to light about how people receive and perceive things differently depending on the screens they use. Finally, expanding definitions of creativity are creating opportunities to showcase brands across different devices. Randall announced that IAB released “The IAB Mobile Phone Shopping Diaries,” which reveals how consumers use their mobile devices during the shopping process. Randall also announced the launch of the new IAB Digital Advertising Directory, a partnership between IAB and NextMark, the most complete information source for digital media planning, available free via the IAB web site.

Rio Caraeff, President and Chief Executive Officer, VEVO, gave an inside look at how the VEVO platform is using the power of music to connect with large audiences. Coming from a family history in the music industry, he said, “I come from a place where music wasn’t just a packaged good…so I think about music the way it was 1,000 years ago, the ability to assemble a crowd.” VEVO hence provides a variety of content that is suited to the numerous ways music can play into people’s lives. Harnessing social media, VEVO even works with AppleTV to sync with iTunes playlists, creating custom individual experiences with the platform. “We believe the web is about choices and options. They should drink from whatever tap they want to, and the water will come from our well.” One new program starting in June, called “Certified,” will honor artists whose videos have achieved 100 million views. In addition, VEVO has found that there is a definite demand for live programming, and that digital users want this to complement their on demand experiences. Innovative advertising partnerships include the successful American Express Unstaged series, which pairs filmmakers and musical artist to capture unique intimate performances. Offering a portfolio of dynamic music-related content, Rio said, “You need great programming, no matter what.”

Next, Jon Steinberg, President, BuzzFeed, and Andy Wiedlin, Chief Revenue Officer, BuzzFeed, presented a session on the future of social advertising and branded content, and discussed the evolving role of ads in this shifting landscape. They began by noting that “social is the new starting point” of discovery for news and content—it’s where most people learn about what’s happening in their world. What makes BuzzFeed incredibly successful is not only knowing how to produce compelling content, but how to harness social media, especially Facebook, to draw mass attention. Instead of simply drawing traffic to the platform, they are getting the vast majority of views through stories that are shared. Andy said of BuzzFeed users, “They know when they come to BuzzFeed, they’ll get the most viral stories on the Web.” People come to the site to find thing that are “hot,” and to find things to share with friends. In terms of advertising, BuzzFeed seeks to drive advertisers to tap into the same social potential for their ads. “Unlike banners, which are often ignored and can’t be shared, BuzzFeed encourages advertisers to create great content that can be shared.” They brought this idea to life through a case study with Virgin Mobile. By helping create relevant content through BuzzFeed, such as posts on “11 Things No One Wants to See You Instagram,” they measured substantial brand lift for Virgin Mobile.

After a networking break, IAB Innovation Days presented a new first. From the main stage, Slate broadcasted its popular Political Gabfest podcast live. The onstage talent included Emily Bazelon, Senior Editor, Slate, John Dickerson, Chief Political Correspondent, Slate, and David Plotz, Editor, Slate. They began their discussion on how technology plays a role in the Presidential campaign. Discussing the breaking story about the anti-Obama ad campaign to be funded by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, and how the nature of focusing on religious and racial issues was a throwback to the same sorts of campaigns seen in 2008, instead of focusing on the economy, which according to polls resonates more with potential voters. The live podcast recording also demonstrated how advertising integrated seamlessly—when they promoted sponsor Audible, they went so far as to recommend an Audible book that might appeal to listeners. Next, the trio shifted into a talk on how new technology is shaping politics. Emily pointed out as a positive factor, that the pace of technology allows some arguments burn out faster, but also questioned whether Twitter was a democratic medium, pointing out that it amplifies what experts think about. They suggested that Twitter might play into lazy reporting, since reporters might come to rely on feeds instead of traditional “shoe leather” techniques. On the positive side, social media might be good for narrowcasting on issues that might be relevant to a subset on constituents. Noting how the industry changed with technology, David said, “There’s no back rooms anymore…so much of what happens in politics is public…and it spreads immediately. You have no private space.” Finally, the podcast took on the topic of the impending Facebook IPO. Emily noted that “It’s a big moment,” but questioned whether the IPO might lead Facebook to have more responsibility to shareholders, like any publicly traded company, which in turn may require more reliance on advertising. Comparing how effectively other digital giants have used advertising, David said, “It’s not clear to me that Facebook is a great business.” During an open question portion of the session, Randall asked how digital has changed their careers as writers. Emily said she embraced the informal tone of the internet, and like the linkages that one can create to other stories. John commented that story leads need to be much shorter: “People don’t have the patience anymore.” David lauded the internet for the immediate feedback and interactivity with readers. Specifically referring to the podcast, David said, “It’s an incredibly intimate medium.”

The conference broke into two workshops. Zvika Netter, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Innovid, presented a workshop on the future of video for brands, especially with respect to video advertising, citing a case study of a partnership between PHD and Innovid. The second workshop was hosted by Edwin Wong, Senior Director, B2B Strategic Insights, Yahoo!, on how connected TV plays into the current and future ways consumers are watching TV.

After a networking picnic luncheon, another series of workshops followed. Tim Hale, Chief Talent Officer, Extreme Reach, and Robert Haskitt, Chief Marketing Officer, Extreme Reach, led a session on how to manage the risks involved with talent and third-party rights in video advertising. Richard Sobel, Director, Platform Strategy, PubMatic, hosted a workshop on how to handle advertising innovation at the breakneck pace in which the digital world runs.

The session came together again for talk with Bob Bowman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, who declared, “We don’t want to standardize size.” More specifically, in mobile advertising, which has grown into literally thousands of display sizes between Android and iPod, it has become problematic to try to standardize advertising on the variety of screen sizes and operating systems. He spoke about how advertising has evolved, going from the web to wireless, then social, and now to gaming. Bob said, “If you want to reach someone under the age of 20, you better have a gaming strategy.” He further announced that MLB.com will launch a gaming business in the summer. To that end, he stressed the importance of cultivating young talent that grew up with social and gaming, with interactivity being the key. He sees live content as a true vehicle for interactivity, and predicts that live content will begin streaming on all screens. Noting how quickly the field is evolving, he said, “No matter what you think is relevant today, there are no guarantees for tomorrow.” Randall joined Bob on stage for a healthy debate.  Discussing the ever-present issue of cord-cutting, Bob said, “There’s a generation of kids that aren’t going to cut the cord, but they’re not going to plug it in.”

Next, Troy Young, President, SAY Media, talked about why point of view (POV) is critical to both content producers and marketers, saying, “Social is by its very essence about point of view.” Troy explained that the industry is shifting from USP (unique selling proposition) to POV in how to connect brands with consumers. A POV perspective on a brand helps weave brands organically into content, and allow marketers to create opinionated stances and develop personalities in their content. He feels that the starting point for content should be “what is our point of view,” rather than “what is the consumer interested in.” This may mean touching people’s hearts, and it might mean “pissing people off,” but POV allows brands to take an interesting perspective that sparks dialogue. Troy said, “We all just need to be a little more interesting.”

The final presentation came from Spotify. Sachin Doshi, Content and Distribution Guru, Spotify, led a talk on how the music ecosystem can employ a POV strategy. Spotfy has created a successful platform for music lovers that allows brands to enter into the relationship between users and artists. Noting that the music business has substantially declined since its peak in 1999, Sachin explained that digital business hasn’t made up for the loss in CD sales, so Spotify created a new opportunity to bring music back to its peak. Among the partnership they’ve developed with brands, they have brokered a relationship with Rolling Stone to help curate list for users. Although it might seem like Spotify has figured out how to rebundle music in a different way. Instead of bundling music in an album, it simply bundles music together into a monthly fee. The opportunity of Spotify is to create a new kind of bundle. Kerry Steib, Marketing Manager, Spotify, added that for brands, this opportunity made advertising possibilities limitless. “You can literally build anything you want to,” she said.

To celebrate the learning and new contacts made over the past two days, attendees gathered outside for the closing cocktail reception.

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