Ideas sparked during the kick-off session of the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting held attendees attention, and fueled late night conversations, drawing the full house back to the conference at 9:00AM. A day of leaders talking to leaders about the most significant issues facing the industry is precisely what the almost 500 industry innovators came to Orlando to be part of.
Randall Rothenberg took the stage, introducing Michael Mendenhall, SVP and CMO of HP, but first spoke briefly about how the new ease of media creation and distribution impacts the role of marketers. This new “world without limits” challenges the industry to “battle back”—the theme of the event.
Michael Mendenhall touched on this theme, highlighting magcloud.com—a beta site developed by HP that allows users—any users—to create and publish a print magazine in a limited time frame. No experience necessary. Next, he detailed a vision of how, like the origins of the television market, brands have an opportunity to build individual, customized affiliate networks to reach targeted audiences and strong brands. Accomplishing it takes time and resources, but the result can become a valuable part of what defines the new brand. One campaign doesn’t do the trick in today’s media world, the full environment each brand creates is what makes the impact.
The Interpublic Group of Companies, the first advertising holding company, shared its success with a mesmerized audience by describing how its agencies interact to meet the changing demands of clients. Michael Roth, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Interpublic Group, was joined by Nick Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mediabrands; Howard Draft, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Draftfcb; Robert Bagot, Chief Creative Officer, McCannSF and Randall Rothenberg for a insight-driven conversation on the blurred lines between direct marketing and brand marketing and who has ultimate responsibility for reaching across the agency’s and silos in response to client demands. In IPG’s eyes, it’s their agency—and specifically one person who’s held accountable.
Bob Carrigan, CEO of IDG Communications Inc., explored five main concepts as he discussed the challenges that traditional media companies face while marketers shift money into interactive away from legacy media. 1) Looking Below the Line. 2) Audience Centricity. 3) Everything is Custom. 4) Beyond Our Borders. 5) Evolution or Extinction. The legacy media create the value required by marketers—through technology and digital media. The marketing dollars are still there, it’s our job to prove we our work brings results.
David Payne, CEO, ShortTail Media, continued the pork bellies analogy that began in 2008 during Wenda Harris Millard’s Annual Meeting presentation. He wants to turn pork bellies into premium inventory and offered six steps to accomplish it. 1) Radically improve ad units. 2) Radically cure metrics. 3) Radically improve the creative. 4) Create conventions - drive simplification to gain scalability. 5) Develop smarter pricing strategies. 6) Focus on simplification.
After lunch the conversations of the industry’s biggest players were joined by some smaller, but just as valuable members of the ecosystem. Online advertising makes survival possible for publishers of all sizes around the world—that was the message of the short film debuted by the IAB entitled “I Am The Long Tail.” Presented by David Doty, Senior Vice President Thought Leadership & Marketing, IAB, the film was comprised of short videos submitted by small publishers from across the country. It told the story of how interactive advertising enables these small publishers to thrive and achieve the American dream by supporting themselves, their families and even employees through their own businesses. It will be available soon on www.iab.net.
Talk then moved to a more intense account of the economy with a deep dive into the 2009 interactive outlook. Mark Mahaney, Director, Internet Sector, Citigroup Investment Research, took on the question “Where Are Advertising Dollars Going?” while Terence Kawaja, Managing Director, GCA Savvian, tackled “Where Are Investor Dollars Going?” It’s no surprise that the outlook is shifting, but there is still opportunity for online to attract spend traditionally allocated to print medium.
Discussion of online creative changed the tone of the afternoon as Steve Duenes, Graphics Director, Aron Pilhofer, Editor, Interactive News Technology and Paul Smurl, Vice President, Advertising, from The New York Times shared the publisher’s vision for displaying information and data online in a way that users can’t experience anywhere else—and a way that can help ensure the digital newspaper remains relevant in a world where information is so accessible.
Microsoft’s Scott Howe, Corporate VP, Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group, kept the crowd on their toes as he presented the blueprint for the future through the eyes of Microsoft. Three major takeaways served as the base of his comments and humor. Adversity must fuel innovation. Our industry must, together, defend our value. And, the acknowledgement that there are challenges in our industry that can only be solved through collaboration—a reoccurring theme of Ecosystem 2.0: Brands Battle Back.
The recent election, particularly the Obama social media campaign, came back to life during the last session of the day as a panel moderated by John Battelle, Chairman CEO Federated Media, revealed the secrets, challenges and lessons surrounding how partnerships created a campaign like nothing seen before. It will be a case-study dissected by brands for years to come. The biggest question---how can you make money doing it? According to Andrew Michael, VP, Interactive Marketing at CNN, Tom Arrix, VP, Sales at Facebook and Rob Shepardson, Founding Partner at SS+K, there’s still work to be done on that front.
As day two came to a close it was clear that the interactive industry’s biggest players are paying attention and preparing to take action on the many lessons learned. The networking never stops and the chatter is always fresh. See for yourself – search twitter for #IABnet for more first-hand feedback on the interactive event of 2009.