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2009 Social Media Marketplace Recap

IAB Advances the Conversation on Social Media

Educating marketers, agencies and publishers on best practices in social media is a leadership role the IAB takes seriously. The buzz around the sharable web—one of the industry’s hottest topics—ran through the room at the sold-out IAB Social Media Marketplace on May 18 in New York, and through the press the next day, as leaders from across the industry unveiled their insights and actionable expertise. During his opening remarks IAB President and CEO, Randall Rothenberg, reminded the audience that news and information have forever been influenced by individual opinion leaders working in tandem with marketing—what we today call social media. What’s evolving is how marketers tap into new opportunities as the reinvention of communication puts new tools at their fingertips.

David Doty,Senior Vice President, Thought Leadership, Marketing, Events, at the IAB, took the stage to start the flow of day and thank the IAB User-Generated Content & Social Media Committee for their work on the recently released Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions and the Social Media Best Practices that were released at this event—both major steps in the IAB’s ongoing efforts to build the advertising infrastructure of social media.

Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, didn’t waste any time differentiating social media from a marketing “campaign” during his keynote address. Social is an ongoing strategy, without a launch or an ending—but measurement is still imperative. He offered a simple 4-step process to make social assessable for any brand.  1) People: Assess your customer’s social activities. 2) Objective: Decide what you want to accomplish (don’t focus initially on the technology). 3) Strategy: Plan for how relationships for customers will change. 4) Technology: Decide which social technologies to use.  People don’t want to talk about products, they want to talk about their problems, he said. And that gives marketers an opportunity to squeeze in the product talk.

The morning also featured a Marketplace session, unique to IAB events, to introduce marketers and agencies to solutions providers that meet their needs and fit their budgets. Five providers—Facebook, Spiceworks, Sprout and Involver—gave multiple short-burst presentations focusing on their distinct value propositions. Attendees had the opportunity to attend all four 15-minute sessions— wasting no time learning which solutions providers they’d like to learn more about and saving the time and complexity of scheduling individual meetings.

It’s thrilling to be a fly on the wall during an important debate and that’s exactly where the audience sat during the “Pitching to the Major Leagues” session. Doug Chavez, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, Del Monte Foods, sat center stage, listening to social medial pitches for various Del Monte products from Seth Goldstein, John Battelle, Ro Choy and Ian Schafer. All offered unique approaches. Goldstein’s big idea centered on the promise of “write once, publish in many places.” John Battelle introduced the Google search page as the new home page—noting consumers trust the “consumer-generated results” more than the corporate sites these days. Ro Choy from RockYou has the target audience every marketer is looking for, the way to measure engagement, guaranteed performance and viral awareness. And Ian suggested marketers think beyond the first impression to the 3rd, 4th, 5th degrees. The power of each pitch—and the platform—wasn’t lost on the audience as they tweeted away about which proposal would win their business.

“Social media doesn’t fit squarely into the organizational paradigm” when it comes to determining where the budget comes from, said Sarah Hofstetter from 360i. Does it hit the marketing, PR, customer service or media budget? That was only one of the money and measurement issues raised during the afternoon keynote. A 360i client, Marc Fonzetti from Reckitt Benckiser agreed, identifying organizational structure and the new language of digital as frequent challenges for marketers working to sell management on a spend shift. However, Fonzetti must have mastered the challenge, as Reckitt recently moved $20 million in advertising from TV to the web for more than 15 of their brands.

While many social campaigns appear to be spontaneous, marketers know that behind the scenes applications have been carefully planned, positioned and executed to encourage organic growth. Then, the final results are in the hands of consumers. Two leading brand marketers, Andrew Markowitz from Kraft and Jackie Woodward from MillerCoors, and Alan Wolk, from The Toad Stool, sat down with Bradley Kay of SS+K to talk about making it all happen seamlessly. How do you position something to take off? According to Woodward, it’s all about relevance to the consumer and just listening. And luck, says Markowitz, pointing out that you can cleverly seed things, but sometimes even the most unexpected things gain popularity too. It’s almost impossible to “capture the lighting in the bottle.” What worked in one place may not work in another.

Along with the new challenges of the medium come myths about why and how advertisers should or shouldn’t develop a presence there. Our expert’s didn’t waste any time debunking three common concerns holding marketers back:

· Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer, Inc., on sponsored conversations: Disclosure! If the blogger was paid to talk about your product or the blogger received free product in return, make the association clear.

· Riccardo Zane, Agency.com, on UGC and brand image control: Use UGC to empower consumers! But keep in mind that every brand is different, and so is the culture—of the brand and their consumers.

· Patrick Keane, Chief Executive Officer, Associated Content, on scalability: There is a new definition of scale! Keywords, themes, agile programming, the custom-content marketplace, SEO and monetization are all factors that can move your message beyond micotargeting.

The need to express social media metrics in tradition terms was reiterated during the Data Overload panel that rounded out the afternoon. Panelists agreed that unique values should be designated for specific consumer actions and that measurement of use of portable applications is really only a measurement of one snapshot it time. The real impact is when the results are looked at holistically—evaluating all channels that touch the target audience.

After an intense day of learning how brands can use social media to engage more consumers and earn new customers, the platform took the back seat to some good ol’ fashion networking—with the help of sponsor Facebook. The sold-out crowd took their new knowledge and inspiration right into the cocktail reception where they made connections, deals and plans to elevate their presence in the social media marketing world.