Recently in IAB Events & Conferences Category

The Buzz Around Mobile Marketing

| | Comments
blog-header-around-web.gif
With our Mobile Marketplace coming up on July 13, we’ve compiled a few articles to help bring you up to date on what’s going on in mobile marketing today.


In this ADWEEK article, branding and action begin to merge in cyberspace marketing messages

“Marketers see a benefit of using display to support brand building on online as well as on mobile channels, especially through use of the rich media [interactive display],..”

 It’s never too early to start learning about Mobile Marketing according to this ClickZ article

“Mobile marketing is more about consumer touchpoints than media math. Before the question of whether to use mobile gets to the plan level, which is fraught with tough decisions and fights for survival, marketing leaders should be planning to use it far earlier in the decision process.”

A few good tips from Eric Bader on how to market through mobile:

“Unlike static and one-way communications channels, mobile is about context and behaviors — great things for marketers. Here are a few ways to market through mobile that can be especially effective in reaching mobile consumers.”

Adage reveals How Mobile Makes Bricks-and-Mortars Retail Accountable

“This is vastly important right now. In this economic environment, consumers are spending less, switching brands and going online to hunt for deals. Still, almost everyone makes unplanned purchases, and half of those purchase decisions happen in the aisle. Mobile presents a tremendous opportunity for brands to claim the last few feet and turn browsers into buyers.”

View our full agenda and register today!

What:   IAB Marketplace - Mobile
When:  Monday, July 13
Where: The Roosevelt Hotel
            Madison Ave at 45th St.
            New York, NY 10017









blog-header-around-web.gif

Our friends at Smartbrief just did a great interview with Sarah Hofstetter, VP of Emerging Media and Client Strategy at 360i, who is a keynote speaker at our upcoming Social Media Marketplace on May 18.

Now is a fantastic opportunity for brands to not only learn from those mistakes but take a disciplined, smart approach to social marketing, understanding how to motivate and engage audiences in their environments, resulting in advocacy, preference, sharing and loyalty.



Read the full interview on SmartBlog here: If You Can Get to Just 1: IAB Social Media Marketplace

And don’t forget to register for the IAB Social Media Marketplace.



8 tips for Social Media

| | Comments

blog-header-around-web.gifWith our Social Media Marketplace coming up, we’ve been combing the web for examples of what’s happening here and now with social media.

4 simple rules for generating traffic from forums

Don’t mention your Web site. Yes, you read that right. Do not mention your Web site in posts or refer to your signature, unless it is abundantly, extremely clear that it is acceptable. This isn’t your Twitter account or your Facebook page - this is the community space. The way you generate traffic from forums is generally through your signature. You do great things, you help people, and you make good posts. That makes people look at your signature and your profile, which is how you receive traffic.

via smartblogs.com

4 Lessons for Social Media Marketers

4. Creativity wins A marketer with an understanding of social media and the need for engagement online tends to think outside the box. They don’t see Facebook or blogging, instead they see vessels for a conversation. Because of that mindset they’re poised to be creative with their social strategy.

via mashable.com

plus, here’s a video describing Social Marketing in Plain English

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter

IAB Sold-Out Annual Leadership Meeting: Live Blog - Tuesday

| | Comments
blog-header-events.gif

12:10 PM

One last session for the morning and the event! Joanne Bradford, SVP, U.S. Revenue and Market Development, and Michael Walrath, SVP, Advertising Marketplace Group, both from Yahoo! are sharing 10 things they think really matter to the industry and Yahoo!.

Brands Matter
Size Matters
Service Matters
Price Matters
Flexibility Matters
Data Matters
Partnerships Matter (that’s one reason they are co-presenting)
Innovation Matters
Longevity Matters
ROI Matters

What doesn’t matter? The majority of the ad networks, according to Joanne.


IMG_6816.jpg

Joanne Bradford talks about Yahoo!’s belief in the spirit of partnerships.



IMG_6861.jpg
Michael Walrath speaks about why innovation matters.

 

11:40 AM

The annual Great Debate is underway. The statements around the center of it all: Brand marketers don’t need agencies. Interactive publishers can provide everything they need.

What does the audience think at the beginning of the session? Audience text message polling shows 64% disagreeing and 36% agreeing at just this minute.

Abbey Klaassen, Digital Editor, at AdAge, is moderating the panel of four - two who agree and two who oppose.

(A) John Partilla, President, Time Warner Global Media Group - It’s complicated out there. You can’t claim to do too much. We can’t do everything for every advertiser, but we can and will do much more.

(A) Sarah Chubb, President, Conde Nast Digital - Times are slim and the truth is that relationships are about doing the things that are missed. We’ve got to work together, not fight each other right now. She’s glad they aren’t in the ad network business because of the data ownership and Ts&Cs issues that are emerging now. They are never going to be the lowest price, due to the value of what they have to offer. You have to figure out where you fit in the ecosystem. 

(O) Quentin George, Chief Digital Officer, Mediabrands - As an industry we’ve done a bad job differentiating the value of what there is to offer. If we can understand the data, high value inventory will thrive.   

(O) Jean-Philippe Maheu, Chief Digital Officer, Ogilvy North America - We need to take today’s economic situation into account. In ideal conditions a brand is always going to go to a creative agency. It’s the long term trend, but right now we must all fight for the same dollars. We all want to create something fantastic and the creatives who can do it are at creative agencies. 

The audience poll results at the end of the session? Let’s see how convincing the sides where. 46% agree and 54% don’t. Looks like a slight change.

IMG_5437.jpg
Our panel was all smiles before the debate began.


10:19 AM

Omar Hamoui, founder and CEO of AdMob, started by admitting he isn’t a “conference guy” but gave kuddos to this event. He’s got a few “news you can use” items to take home and start working. But, on to the good stuff—mobile. He’s displaying a live mobile campaign on an ad management interface and going over the details of how easy it is to manage and collect reporting. We’ll see what’s happening with the campaign between now and the end of the session. 

The platform is growing at tremendous speed and with diverse audiences. Any audience you want, they are there—and very targetable. What about the experience? Some users now prefer to use particular apps on mobile devices rather than online. Videos, maps, pull vs. push, rich mobile sites and more continue to make the mobile experience even more robust and they will expand farther in the next generation of mobile.

Eric Bader from Brand In Hand (an actual client of AdMob) is talking through their case-study and comparing the mobile work with other channel results. He agrees with the session title “Mobile: My Platform Can Beat Up Your Platform.”


IMG_6473.jpg

Omar Hamoui explores the possibilities of mobile advertising with the audience.

 

9:50 PM

“Rumors on the Death and Display Have Been Greatly Exaggerated” according to David Rosenblatt, President, Display Advertising, Google.

The Google product development model has three core principles. 1) openness 2) results 3) efficiency. David is running through how Google is addressing them each specifically through products. The strategy is to use their large presence, technological advantage and more to make it happen.

How does Google feel about agencies? They love them because agencies understand brands.

Lots of questions from the audience:

Is Google a technology company or media company? Great question from an audience member who asked he try to avoid answering “both”. However, it is “both” says David. That’s the reality they are working toward. 

Do you believe all impressions are created equal? No - the point is that each unit of inventory has a different value to different people. The marketplace model takes care of that. Pricing isn’t the core issue—it’s yield.

IMG_6404.jpg
David Rosenblatt explains how one man’s remnant inventory might be another man’s premium.


9:14 AM

Noticed any consistent themes throughout Ecosystem 2.0: Brands Battle Back? Randall has and he shared them to start the final day.

1. Interactive is an AND media not an OR media

2. Services (even consensus around what kind of services)

3. The value of the user experience

4. Use the tools

9:06 AM

The final day of Ecosystem 2.0: Brands Battle Back is just beginning. Last night’s dinner was the perfect end to a day of intense presentations, debate and discussion. The conversation may have been intense—but attendees still enjoyed some down time to reflect and relax.  Stay tuned for the final sessions…… 

 

 

IAB Sold-Out Annual Leadership Meeting: Live Blog - Monday

| | Comments
blog-header-events.gif6:05 PM

Our last panel of the day took a political spin with a frank discussion on the lessons learned from the Obama campaign in social media.  Moderated by John Battelle, the panel featured:

Tom Arrix, Vice President Sales, Facebook
Andrew Mitchell, Vice President Interactive Marketing, CNN.com
Rob Shepardson, Founding Partner, SS+K

The discussion ranged from the coolest thing they did during the election (CNN/Facebook inauguration mashup for Andrew Mitchell) to Battelle asking Tom Arrix if Facebook made money off the campaign (answer = page views went up).  Rob Shepardson also made some great points about how what Barack Obama stood for meshed perfectly with the Social Media platform in distribution and organization.

This was a great end to a fantastic day.  I’m off to the networking reception followed by dinner.  Tune in tomorrow morning for updates from Day 3 of Ecosystem 2.0 - Brands Battle Back.


IMG_5120.jpg
The panel discusses how difficult it is for Barack Obama to stay relevant in social media after winning.


5:15 PM

Back from break with two more sessions until cocktails and dinner.  First up is Scott Howe, Corporate Vice President, Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group from Microsoft. Going into the tail end of a day packed with learning and debate, this high-energy performance was just what the crowd needed.

Howe’s presentation was based on three statements:

1) What we can learn from the Great Depression

2) Why the Green Bay Packers are smarter than us

3) Why Geology and Physics should be friends

To try to explain through this blog how each of these statements leads to a lesson learned would not do the presentation justice - so here are the lessons minus the entertainment:

1) Adversity must fuel innovation.

2) We must as an industry defend our value.

3) There are challenges in our industry that can only be solved through collaboration.

I’ll be back in an hour with the final update of the day.


IMG_5701.jpg
Scott Howe loves the Green Bay Packers.



4:05 PM

Creative is king as The New York Times team shares how they’ve used creative and “beauty” to drive a 38 percent increase in unique users.

Steve Duenes, Graphics Director, explains that the goal is to always deliver something novel to users—something they won’t find anywhere else. It’s about taking simple data, like exit poll results, and working through a way to deliver the journalism in a new visual experience. As a viewer, watching the samples he’s displaying, you almost don’t even notice you are absorbing the information because it seems so natural and interesting.  

Next up is Aron Pilhofer, Editor, Interactive News Technology. His group consists of ten journalists/developers that form a true project desk. They are working on visual ways to guide readers through important sections of documents, accessing information that traditionally could be very difficutl to sort through. Building community around the sections people wait for each week can and will change the future of newspapers. Is there another option?

New platforms, Times People, Times Extra and apps are slated to create loyalty and drive people back to The New York Times homepage says Paul Smurl, Vice President, Advertising. Multi-platform advertising isn’t new, but continues to be a focus for advertising sales. 

The last break of the day—I need a sugar rush! Wish me luck.

IMG_5541.jpg

Steve Duenes walks the audience through recent visual data displays.


IMG_5571.jpg

Aron Pilhofer explains the role of the new interactive news technology team.



IMG_5674.jpg
Paul Smurl shares new platforms and apps designed to engage users.

 


3:20 PM

Back from lunch and a little warm sunshine, the afternoon sessions are underway. And, a little surprise…..

The IAB, with the help of small publishers across the country, created “I Am The Long Tail,” a collection of homemade videos from small publishers themselves, telling the story of how online advertising allows them to thrive in business and in life. The video will be available at iab.net/longtail soon.

IMG_5307.jpg
David Doty introduces “I Am the Long Tail.”

Recession 2.0: A Deep Dive Into the 2009 Interactive Economy features two presenters. Mark Mahaney, Director, Internet Sector, Citigroup Investment Research, is taking on “Where Are Advertiser Dollars Going?” His big picture answer: advertising outlooks will continue to decline, but there is opportunity. There is a $125B opportunity, five times the total dollars spent on online advertising in 2008. The advertising spend can and will shift online. The biggest areas of ad innovation are mobile, video and local advertising. CMOs do like Internet advertising especially search, he says.

Terence Kawaja, Managing Director, GCA Savvian, is dealing with “Where Are Investor Dollars Going?” Private investor activity was ramping up. M&As were producing activity. The buyer universe was expanding. But, now the world has changed and so have the stats and the dollars. Content, agencies, performance marketing and social/blog deals are still happening because the investment spectrum is all about balancing risk and reward. And, social is going corporate while corporate is going social.

The good news: interactive is the only bright spot in advertising. Digital is the only channel that can deliver value to brands. It’s only going to happen with the support and help of the leaders in this room. 

IMG_5428.jpg
Mark Mahaney asks what will be the Kindle of interactive advertising?



IMG_5467.jpg
Terence Kawaja makes some provocative comparisons between Wall Street and Madison Avenue.



1:20 PM

Last year at the 2008 IAB Annual Meeting Wenda Harris Millard famously declared “we must not trade our diamonds like pork bellies” when speaking about ad inventory. David Payne, CEO, ShortTail Media, continued the pork analogy with a presentation about how to turn pork bellies into premium inventory.  He gave six steps to accomplish this:

1) Radically improve ad units - after all the two-minute commercial break is interpretive but it can also tell a story.
2) Radically cure metrics - we must move beyond the click and provide marketers with meaningful data.
3) Radically improve the creative - amazingly, interactive creative is not evolving as fast as television.
4) Create conventions - drive simplification to gain scalability
5) Develop smarter pricing strategies
6) Focus on simplification - simplification and standardization does not mean commoditization.


IMG_5206.jpg
David Payne believes innovation is the heroin that both fuels and kills interactive advertising.

With all this talk of pork, I think I’m going to head out for lunch.  Be back with more this afternoon.


12:40 PM

Things picked up quickly after break with Bob Carrigan, CEO, IDG Communications Worldwide. He discussed the challenges that traditional media companies face as marketers continue to shift money into interactive away from legacy media.

The main concepts of Carrigan’s presentation were: Looking Below the Line, Audience Centricity, Everything is Custom, Beyond Our Borders and Evolution or Extinction.  Within each concept, the overriding theme was traditional media must embrace technology in order to create value for their customers.  It’s about turning media into a service.  There’s still plenty of marketing dollars to be spent.  The question is whether you can create the value marketers need in the digital age.

IMG_5138.jpg
Bob Carrigan continued an overriding theme of Ecosystem 2.0 - turning information into insight.


11:55 AM

Some quick breaking news before the next session - Revenue Science is now known as Audience Science. Visit www.audiencescience.com for more info.

11:26 AM

Randall Rothenberg just wrapped up a discussion with IPG leaders, including individual agency leaders. Nick Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mediabrand; Howard Draft, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Draftfcb; Michael Roth, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Interpublic Group and Robert Bagot, Chief Creative Officer, McCannSF shared the details of how the IPG holding company came together and manages the business. Keeping their head down and focusing on the client and audience is working wonders for them.

A current Hyundia campaign was discussed as an example of how brands are listening to the challenges consumers are currently facing. The offer, in this case the option to return your new car if you lose your source of income, is an important part of the campaign. Media + offer + creative = direct marketing and much more these days.

Consumer engagement is more important than ever. That means blurring the lines between brand marketing and direct response marketing.

Breaking down silos between agencies and expertise has been key to IPG success.  One person is accountable for reaching across the different organizations and to the client. It is the agency’s responsibility to be accountable. Clients are demanding an open architecture so IPG is responding—and holding their senior executives responsible through compensation.

Audience members are talking too. Search twitter for #iabnet for details.

Off to a break. Need a snack to maintain my blog energy!


IMG_4879-1.jpg
Our first panel of the day featured powerhouses of the agency world discussing how agency brands are battling back.

 

10:10 AM

Michael Mendenhall began by addressing how social media is impacting marketer reach. Social networking sites are now a source of advice and are being used to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges—for people who may have never experienced the power of the Internet. The paradigm is no longer centered on interrupting a consumer message with your product, it’s about creating a conversation around your product.

HP is tapping the collective intelligence of customers by hosting forums where they can help each other. These forums are expected to be critical to HPs success as the brand strives to engage customers through digital media. But, they don’t expect traditional outlets to disappear, just adapt.

One example is MagCloud.com -  a  beta version of an HP site/product which allows anyone to customize and instantly create and print magazines. Sounds interesting.

Michael also drew comparisons between the successes of TV, through the help of independently and locally operated affiliates, and brand building online. Brands can become “the big tv three” by contracting with a vast number of local web sites. The problem is it takes time and research, which can be prohibitive. The winners will be the agencies who can rationalize it and pull it all together. And, they are begining to do it.

For many companies brand specific digital networks will just be a small part. Brands aren’t defined by campaigns anymore, but by the complete environment they create.

For HP success is about “return on information” not “return on investment” in today’s marketplace.


IMG_4751.jpg
Michael Mendenhall believes brands are no longer defined by their campaigns, but rather by the consumer ecosystems that we need to support.


9:45 AM

Randall Rothenberg was back on stage to set expectations for the day and comment on last nights activities.

For the first time in any industry—anywhere—everyone has an opportunity to communicate with anyone. We all have unlimited access to information and the technology needed to share it. For us—marketers—this ability to create and distribute content creates a challenge. We no longer control the limit of information consumers can absorb. How do we prosper in a world without limits? That’s the reason the event is themed Brands Battle Back.

Our industry’s leaders are here to explain and tell us what they need from the rest of us to make it happen. First up Michael Mendenhall, SVP and CMO, HP.

8:49 AM

Welcome Back!

Good morning and welcome back to the sold-out IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. Looks like the crowd has recovered from last night’s hopping Poolside Welcome Reception (and the Oscars). Don’t worry, no one wound up in the pool—at least not before I called it a night.

We’ve got a full agenda today, starting with comments from Randall followed by the keynote presentation—Marketing 2.0: The New Affiliates—by Michael Mendenhall SVP and CMO of HP. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, here are some photos from last night’s poolside reception.



IMG_4604.jpg
IMG_4627.jpg
IMG_4634.jpg
IMG_4652.jpg




blog-header-events.gif

7:10 PM

That’s it from Orlando for now. I’m off to the Poolside Welcome Reception for dinner and a drink—and some warm, fresh air. It’s a far cry from the snow showers I left behind in NJ. Check back in tomorrow morning and throughout the day for complete coverage. Tomorrow you’ll also find video clips of Randall’s and Wenda’s opening sessions on iab.net.

7:05 PM

IAB Sales Excellence Awards

Back to the awards—it’s time now for the IAB Sales Excellence Awards presented by Jack Myers, Media Futurist, Innovation Consultant, himself.

They are based on as inclusive and objective a standard as exists in today’s marketplace, The Myers Annual Survey of Advertising Executives—the one database that contains multi-year metrics on the performance of interactive ad sales organizations of all types: portals, networks, individual branded publisher sites.

The envelope please…….

Account Executive of the Year: Josh Thau, Microsoft Advertising

Account Executive of the Year Finalists
Paul Chenier, IGN Entertainment
Dan Bonert, Yahoo!
Stacey Pear, Yahoo!

Long Term Achievement: Washington Post Digital
Most Innovative: Nickelodeon Online Sales
Best Newcomer: Hulu
Again, check IAB.net in a few days for more details on these outstanding accomplishments. (Read the press release to learn more.)


IMG_4586.jpg
Jack Meyers tells the audience they must capitalize on this time of economic crisis through the value of media brands in connecting marketers to consumers.


6:45 PM

Keynote Presentation

Wenda Harris Millard, President, Media and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the IAB Board Chair, is now welcoming the crowd and explaining why brands need to battle back -the theme of this event. Running through the cold, hard facts of how the recession is impacting the media industry she suggests we leave 2008 behind and think about how we can move forward in 2009, but not expect much recovery.


Innovation, reinvention, renewing—these are the things we need to be thinking about now. We have to move forward and fast. We must master media complexity—both the right and left brain aspects of it.


Are we innovating as we should be? The advertising business is about the art and science of persuasion and now participation. How has that changed our plans? Where is the creative innovation in advertising? Are we turning the data into the information we need to share with marketers? There are lots of questions to be answered. It’s our job to help marketers stop interrupting the conversation and help them BE the conversation. We are the makers of magic - ACT LIKE IT.


Want to see what other audience members are thinking right now? Search twitter for #IABnet. The feed is jumping!

IMG_4415.jpg
Wenda Harris Millard emphasizes that we must not concede marketing to technology.


6:05 PM

IAB Service Excellece Awards

It’s not time for the Oscars just yet, but close. (We’ll all be watching together later tonight.)


David Moore, Chairman and Founder of 24/7 Real Media and Vice-Chair of the IAB Board, is onstage now recognizing some well-deserving IAB members for their support and involvement.


First off, he’s thanking our 2008 committee chairs and co-chairs for their hard work.


Ad Operations Council: Adrian D’Souza, Google, Inc. and Dan Murphy, Univision Online
CFO Council: Bruce Gordon, Disney Interactive Media Group
Research Council: Rick Bruner, Google, Inc. and Beth Uyenco Shatto, Microsoft Advertising
Sales Executive Council: Sheila Buckley, Weather Channel Interactive (Weather.com) and Brian Quinn, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network
Public Policy Dave Morgan, Tennis.com
Legal Affairs: Jason Ryning, Micorsoft and Brad Aaron, Q Interactice
Networks and Exchanges Committee: David Moore, 24/7 Real Media, Inc.
User-Generated Content & Social Media Committee: Heidi Browning, FOX Interactive Media
Email Committee: Craig Swerdloff, Return Path
Hispanic Committee: Mark Lopez, Terra Networks USA
Lead Generation Committee: Gayle Guzzardo, Q Interactive
Mobile Committee: Gary Schwartz, Impact Mobile and Sharon Knitter, Cars.com
Local Committee: J. Sandhi Kozsuch, Cox Cross Media / Cox TV and Lorraine Ross, USATODAY.com
Digital Video Committee: Joey Trotz, CNN.com and Tim Avila, Yahoo!, Inc.
Games Committee: Dave Madden, Wild Tangent and David Sturman, Microsoft Advertising
Search Committee: Ron Belanger, Yahoo, Inc. and Tim Castelli, Google, Inc.

Now he’s presenting the IAB Service Excellence Awards to awards to recognize exceptional leadership and initiative development by a regular committee or council member or a working group participant. We couldn’t do it without your help.

And the winners of the 2009 IAB Service Excellence Awards winners are…. (drum roll please)
Lon Pilot, Platform A
Geoff Petkus, Operative
Steve Sullivan, Microsoft
Zack Rogers, CBS Interactive
Tim Avila, Yahoo!
Mike Hurt, comScore
Christie Lay, Microsoft
Leslie Dunlap, Yahoo!
Lisa Anderson, Time Warner

Congrats to all. Check out IAB.net later this week for more details about the winners and their specific accomplishments. (Read the press release to learn more.)

IMG_4299.jpg
Dave Moore recognizes the IAB Service Awards winners.


 

5:41 PM

The Kick-Off

It didn’t take long for the crowd of almost 500 to settle down as Randall Rothenberg, this event’s fearless leader, and President and CEO of the IAB, took the stage to officially kick-off the Annual Leadership Meeting—and set the stage for the next few days.

He reminded us that the whole point of the meeting is to confront tough questions—things that are usually discussed in back rooms are debated on the IAB stage. It’s the best way to resolve tension and smooth the path to growth, together. And—it makes for some pretty interesting discussion, heated or not.

The biggest challenges the IAB is tackling in 2009:

Brand Power - moving beyond the click and beyond the immediacy of today’s response

Measurement Simplicity - reducing the cacophony that surrounds every discussion about media measurement

Killing Complexity Costs - with the help of the IAB-AAAA Reinvention Task Force (Read the press release to learn more.)

Equity for Publishers - rewriting the standard, voluntary IAB-AAAA Model Advertising Contract (Read the press release to learn more.)

Loving Our Consumers - addressing the data-ownership issue at the heart of the regulatory debate in D.C.

Creativity - creating a creative renaissance in interactive advertising (Read the press release to learn more.)

Sounds like a full agenda to me. Good luck!


IMG_4246.jpg

Randall Rothenberg opens the IAB Annual Meeting by asking if we can live with the tension between stability and dynamism.

2:40 PM

The Anticipation: IAB 2009 Sold-Out Annual Leadership Meeting

Welcome to the live blog covering the sold-out IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Orlando. The event hasn’t officially kicked-off yet, but the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is buzzing with excitement as leaders of the advertising ecosystem check-in, register and network while enjoying the warm Orlando sunshine—some even played a round of golf this morning. Seats for the sold-out Ecosystem 2.0: Brands Battle Back disappeared almost two weeks before the event, but a few lucky folks on the waiting list got last minute opportunities to come take part in the action.

The IAB Board of Directors meeting is currently underway. No one’s wasting a minute of this unprecedented opportunity to discuss the state of the interactive industry.

Check back here frequently over the next few days to stay in-the-know. This blog is your best source for breaking news and in-the-room action.

See you tonight. The General Session convenes at 5:00pm with a welcome from Randall Rothenberg, IAB President and CEO. He’ll set the agenda of what’s to come over the next few days.

Just Unveiled: IAB Annual Meeting Agenda. Will You Be There?

| | Comments
blog-header-events.gif

Be part of the debate as the industry’s most influential players face off on the biggest issues impacting the marketing-media value chain at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. Advance the conversation on how brands—-agency brands, consumer brands, and publisher brands—are all battling back against commoditization in today’s challenging economic times.

 

Check out the just-released agenda to start planning how you can make the most of your time by asking the right questions and networking with the right attendees. Learn alongside advertising innovators at the IAB Annual Meeting in Orlando on February 22-24.


Register by Friday, January 23, to take advantage of early-bird pricing. And, book your room at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress by January 30, to save even more.

 

View the participant list.


The power-house speaker line-up includes:

Nick Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mediabrands

Bob Carrigan, Chief Executive Officer, IDG Communications Worldwide

Sarah Chubb, President, CondéNet

Howard Draft, Chairman and CEO, Draftfcb

Scott Howe, Corporate Vice President, Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group
Michael Mendenhall, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Hewlett-Packard Company

Wenda Harris Millard, President, Media and Co-CEO, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

David Moore, Chairman and Founder, 24/7 Real Media

Jack Myers, Media Futurist, Innovation Consultant

David Rosenblatt, President, Display Advertising, Google

Michael Roth, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Interpublic Group

Joanna Shields, Executive Vice President, AOL and President, People Networks

And many more!

 

 

blog-header-rr.gifAn Ecosystem 2.0 Post-Mortem

Those of you who were part of the sold-out crowd know that IAB’s just-concluded Annual Meeting in Phoenix was a soaring success: We made news repeatedly, we celebrated the difference-makers who are building the interactive industry, we facilitated deal-making among member companies, and - most importantly — we brought into the open, for public debate, the sorest, most troublesome issue for our membership: Are advertising and the media that convey it just another commodity, or do they have transcendent value for marketers and consumers?

My answer: Both.

The debate was exquisitely captured over the three days in a thrust by IAB’s new chair, Wenda Harris Millard, and a parry by Doubleclick executive Michael Rubenstein. In a widely blogged comment in her speech opening the Annual, Ms. Millard, the president, media, of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, told the packed house, “We must not trade our advertising inventory like pork bellies.” Mr. Rubenstein, the head of Doubleclick’s new online advertising exchange, responded two days later, during his appearance on a panel debating the pros and cons of exchanges. Noting that the trading mechanism and the value of the traded product are distinct from each other, as they are in the gem exchanges of Antwerp, he said: “We like to think of our publisher impressions as diamonds, not pork bellies.”

Please note that at the end of this clog, I intend to give a major-league plug for our March 31 conference that is devoted solely to this subject, “IAB Marketplace: Networks & Xchanges,” an all-day deep dive in New York. But now (and over the next several weeks, if I can hold to a schedule), I’d like to offer some history and analysis about the progress of advertising, and why the IAB has made the evolution of our value chain a top strategic priority for 2008.


Portals Become Platforms

Midway through 2007, I became aware of tonal and contextual changes in the way many corporate leaders in the interactive industry were speaking. Chief Executives of several “portals” were rebranding their companies as “platforms.” A portal, according to Wikipedia, is “a site that functions as a point of access to information on the World Wide Web… [and] offer[s] other services such as e-mail, news, stock prices, infotainment and various other features.” Central to their user-friendliness in the early days of the Web, “portals provide a way for enterprises to provide a consistent look and feel with access control and procedures for multiple applications, which otherwise would have been different entities altogether.”

In other words, portals portrayed themselves to consumers as the only interactive resource they would ever need - hence their attractiveness to financiers and advertisers in the late 1990’s, and the fear they struck in the hearts of branded media incumbents. The widespread belief was that one or two portals would establish themselves as the Web’s operating systems - closed structures with enormous influence over consumer and business behaviors.

Platforms appeared to be something different altogether, and in conversations over the course of last year with Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang and AOL CEO Randy Falco, I heard the language of control being replaced by the language of participation. At the Right Media Open last October, Mr. Yang defined a platform as “a business that has a set of standards that allows a set of companies to participate and find benefit from it.” He added: “Yahoo will have to embrace openness.”

At roughly the same time, Mr. Falco, less than a year into his tenure as Chairman and Chief Executive, unveiled what seemed a similar strategy for AOL. “With the increasing fragmentation of online audiences, the best way to serve advertisers is to enable them to harness massive advertising networks that reach across the entire Internet, not just our AOL websites,” he said. The new aggregation of third-party sites and tools and services for advertisers and publishers would become its own business inside AOL, called Platform A. “With the launch of Platform A, we are unleashing this powerful network to deliver unrivaled transparency and return on investment for our marketing partners,” Mr. Falco said.

Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, now running a social-network facilitation service called Ning, confirmed that the shift from control to openness was more than linguistic. “A ‘platform,’” he wrote in a widely-circulated blog posting, “is a system that can be programmed and therefore customized by outside developers — users — and in that way, adapted to countless needs and niches that the platform’s original developers could not have possibly contemplated, much less had time to accommodate.”

“The key term in the definition of platform is “programmed,” he added. “If you can program it, then it’s a platform. If you can’t, then it’s not.”

Network of Fear

But there is a problem, Houston: A lot of the intended beneficiaries simply do not believe the behemoths. In most of my conversations with branded-media providers in our membership, the old fears of portal control are still extant and, if anything, more jagged in the dawning era of platforms. Everywhere they turn, media incumbents are seeing threats to their ability to hold their audiences, or price their ads appropriately to the value they deliver: Online ad exchanges are driving their advertising prices down… Widgets on social networks are decontextualizing their expensively-built content… Online networks are delivering ads to tiny sites, many of which are built on links to the major media sites whose lunch they’re eating… Behavioral targeting technologies are divorcing ads from context entirely…

That open platforms seem as much of a danger as closed portals became clear when I started doing formal interviews with members of IAB’s Board of Directors to prepare our 2008 strategy and operating budget. To the question, “What new technologies, platforms, or application categories do you see as potentially disruptive threats or opportunities to your business?,” the answers - from both our network-based members and our branded-media members - were startlingly consistent: Behavioral targeting vs. contextual targeting… Pricing challenges… The value of the differentiated user experience… Supply chain efficiencies in an increasingly fragmented media environment… Interoperability standards that could synchronize millions of sites and hundreds of agencies… Agreement on core metrics… Teaching marketers, agencies, and media alike about the new opportunities and challenges…

Thus was born the theme for our Annual Meeting, Ecosystem 2.0. The interactive industry needed a place to air its concerns and showcase its opportunities - to ourselves. And that means all of us - platforms, publishers, marketers, and agencies - for, as became abundantly clear through the multiple presentations last week, the boundaries that once cleanly separated buyers and sellers, clients and agencies, service providers and customers, are shifting, even eroding.

Benjamin Franklin argued a variation of this challenge when he urged the 13 fractious colonies to come together and declare independence from Great Britain. “We must, indeed, all hang together,” the Colonial pop philosopher said, “or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

At our conference, though, Federated Media founder (and IAB Board member) John Battelle argued it more succinctly. “We’re all in each others’ shorts,” he said.

Heat and Light

Mr. Battelle’s contention wasn’t a complaint; it was a simple affirmation of truth. It echoed the refrain Ms. Millard repeated throughout her keynote: “My space is your space.”

But if you listened closely to what Ms. Millard was saying, you realized that she was doing more than describing our evolution: She was issuing an invitation.

Let’s not minimize the tensions in the marketing-media ecosystem. Forbes.com CEO and IAB Board member Jim Spanfeller opened the onstage debate we structured on the role of online exchanges by charging that “the fully-executed concept of networks and exchanges is to disassociate content from the advertising.

“That’s not good for the end user or for the advertiser,” he said.

Bill Wise, the General Manager of Yahoo’s advertising exchange, responded that exchanges like his provide media like Mr. Spanfeller’s an opportunity to sell advertising more efficiently. “There’s a lot of inventory that doesn’t need a sales force,” he offered. But Patrick Keane, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of CBS Digital - and a former senior Google executive before leaving that “portal” for the branded-media world last year - captured the essential concern on the “contextual” side of the industry.

“I remember trying to get Jim and his team to ‘surrender’ premium inventory to Adsense,” Mr. Keane, an IAB Board member, told panel moderator Michael J. Wolf, the former Chief Operating Officer of MTV Networks. Adsense is Google’s advertising network. “Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I know we have a sales force with great client relationships, and it’s hard to surrender those relationships to the four-letter-word called ‘auction process.’”

Nor could the jockeying for position among the various platforms that occurred during the Ecosystem 2.0 conference have been comforting for branded-content leaders like Mr. Spanfeller and Mr. Keane. While Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang and President Sue Decker took pains to reassure publishers that their intentions toward them are honorable —- their forthcoming platform, the Advertiser-Publisher Exchange, or Apex, will optimize advertising for agencies and publishers alike, they said - a vision of oligopoly could not have been far from the minds of many. Microsoft Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group Senior Vice President Brian McAndrews calmly predicted that if his company’s bid for Yahoo! is successful, there will be only two platforms in the industry, his and Google’s. That prompted AOL CEO Falco to retort the next day: “”Microsoft and Google can ignore us and leave us off of charts if they want, but they do that at their own peril.”

I did find some of the argument a-historical. Television advertising, almost from the dawn of network broadcasting in 1949, always disassociated advertising from content. Once the “Quiz Show Scandals” killed sponsored programming, TV advertising was dominated by spots created to air promiscuously across all forms of programming on all the networks, with only the barest demographic differences entering into agencies’ calculations of where to place the ads. That’s why the television industry has been able to use an exchange — albeit an opaque and non-mechanical one — to sell so much of its inventory. It’s called the annual Upfront Marketplace.

Still, for all the drama, it was clear to all during the conference that relationships are changing, as technology allows competition to take new forms and all of us face rivals we couldn’t have dreamed of 10 years ago. Microsoft, the world’s wealthiest technology company, now owns one of the most prominent interactive ad agencies, Avenue A/Razorfish, and in bidding for Yahoo, hopes to take in the largest interactive advertising distribution network and content provider in the world. The WPP Group, the world’s second largest marketing-communications company, is now a media company; its acquisition of the 24/7 Real Media ad network makes it both a buyer and a seller of inventory.

Put another way, both WPP and Microsoft now have units in the IAB and the AAAA. They won’t be the last ones, either: We’re all in each others’ shorts.

Marketing-Media Hermaphrodites

Many less-recognized examples of these new competitive dynamics surfaced during Ecosystem 2.0. On the Battelle-moderated panel on coopetition, Lauren Wiener, Senior Vice President of Meredith Interactive Media, reported that the venerable women’s magazine company has expanded dramatically into other forms and functions, and is now both a distributor of Kraft advertising and the food company’s CRM agency-of-record. Group M Interaction CEO Rob Norman, in a spellbinding presentation that shifted tone from the comic to the complex, revealed that agencies like his are likely to start buying and trading media for their own accounts.

Face it, we’re living in an industry composed increasingly of marketing-media hermaphrodites. “The media company is rather redefined in digital,” Christopher Vollmer, head of the U.S. Media and Entertainment Practice at Booz Allen Hamilton, said in presenting the latest findings from “Marketing-Media Ecosystem 2010,” the groundbreaking collaboration between the global strategy and technology consulting firm and the IAB, the Association of National Advertisers, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

The Booz Allen research provides startling evidence of the degree to which we’re all in each others’ shorts. Ninety-one percent of the media companies surveyed said they are currently providing agency-like services. Eighty-eight percent say they are providing campaign development and strategic services directly to marketers.

Yet for all that, media still are under-leveraging their opportunities: While two-thirds of media companies are providing consumer insights to marketers, it was only no. 7 on the list of agency-like services they offer. Perceiving an unexploited opportunity, Mr. Vollmer told media companies they should feel anything but threatened. “The antidote to commoditization is to have much more granular data on your consumer,” the Booz Allen consultant told the audience, “almost to the point of managing relationship marketing.”

No wonder Ad Age titled its post-mortem on the conference, “Why You Should Be in the Media Sales Business.”

Marketers Want Relationships

Marketers appear to like the situation: Almost half say they anticipate their relationships with media companies increasingly to resemble the relationships large retailers currently have with major consumer-products manufacturers. That is, they expect major cross-platform publishers to have teams living at General Motors and Unilever, the way Procter & Gamble currently has a team living in Bentonville, Arkansas, to keep the relationship with Wal-Mart successful, profitable, and fully optimized.

Kim Kadlec, Chief Media Officer of Johnson & Johnson, agreed. “Media companies are the most underleveraged resource for insights that exist,” she said. She then introduced Tina Sharkey, the chair of Babycenter LLC - the largest destination site on the Internet for new and expectant mothers.

Babycenter is yet another of the hermaphrodites populating our industry: Supported by revenues from multiple advertisers, as befits a leading media company, it also happens to be wholly-owned by J&J, which has managed to keep the relationship between the two companies sufficiently bounded to protect Babycenter’s business and integrity, while mining it for useful consumer insights. As Ms. Sharkey (an IAB Board member) showed in her fascinating (and highly buzzed) presentation, the insights derive from analysis of blogs, observed consumer behaviors, and the myriad other interactions that take place between users and the company, and among users themselves, as they traverse pregnancy and early motherhood.

“BabyCenter has taught us that media companies don’t just sell pork bellies, they sell much more,” Ms. Kadlec said.

Blogger and Edelman Worldwide public relations executive Steve Rubel caught the drift. Publishers, he wrote, are “disintermediating agencies — even as they all downplay it.”

Interactive Boot Camp

Add up Ms. Kadlec’s, Ms. Sharkey’s, and Mr. Vollmer’s analyses, and you get a strikingly different view of the evolving ecosystem than the commoditization fears convey. Marketers are not looking for cheap inventory; they are looking for relationships. They understand - quite correctly, as my earlier blog post on the history of social marketing, showed - that strong relationships with consumers breed more consumers, and more sales. Individuals talking to other individuals about their preferences and purchases spur more and more enduring sales opportunities than all the “spots and dots” shotgunned across the media. “Advocacy trumps awareness” is how Booz Allen summarized the new view of marketers toward media.

Marketers have been crystal clear that relationships are what they are seeking. When H.J. Heinz invited the IAB to facilitate our Interactive Boot Camp for Senior Marketers for its entire senior marketing team in Pittsburgh recently, the revered food marketer owned up to one primary interest: Using social marketing and social media to build closer alliances with its consumers and customers. We brought a senior executive from Myspace, as well as DDB CEO Chuck Brymer, to help teach them the ropes.

Companies will need to train themselves with a new ‘dialogue’ skill set and build expertise to leverage a whole new set of available tools,” Heinz CMO Brian Hansberry told us afterward. “IAB’s marketing boot camp enabled us at Heinz to begin that work.”

But note something vital here: We brought a great agency executive in that room along with some great interactive media companies. Even as the competitive boundaries change, the importance of classic, discrete skill sets remains undiminished. It is unlikely that media companies will be able to hire enough strategic marketing expertise to fill clients’ needs. And even as the best agencies help their clients develop sites that look, sound, and feel like infotainment (as Digitas has done for Kraft, to cite one ready example), it’s unlikely that agencies will be able to insource all the independent, audience-gathering skills that the best media companies manage.

The media agree; they don’t want to take on the burden of providing most agency services. While they intend to compete in generating insights - “It’s a competition for good ideas, and good ideas get funded,” IAC Media and Advertising CEO Peter Horan explained at our conference — by a 3-1 ratio, media execs told Booz Allen that creative production should remain the province of agencies. They are equally sure that communications planning and media planning are the agency’s responsibility.

Clients see it the same way. “We don’t need media companies to be our agencies,” J&J’s Ms. Kadlec told the IAB crowd. “We need media companies to do what they do best: Create great content, and draw audiences to it.”

Networks & Exchanges

It is not a simple charge. Drawing audiences now fragmented across tens of millions of sites is hard, hard work. That challenge will only grow more daunting once addressable television enters our dens. And creating great content? If that were easy, every blogger would be a best-selling author, and every Youtube uploader a James Cameron.

Which is why I believe the dichotomy between environment and commodity - as represented in the debate between branded-content sites and platforms, or the contest between behavioral targeting and contextual targeting - is a false one. Both have their place, each serves different marketer needs, and neither is likely to be able to exist without the other. To create advocates, marketers require the relationships that engaging content creates. They need the trust forged by The New York Times, the comfort purveyed by Martha Stewart, the style identified with Conde Nast, the technological savvy conveyed by CNET, the wonder associated with Disney.

Marketers also will need to go deeper into those attachments, which is why they and their agencies will use networks to find the smaller sites, many of them without direct sales forces, that inflame the passions of consumers everywhere: The laughter generated by FunnyorDie.com… The nesting tips on Askthebuilder.com… The insider gossip on Gawker.com… The felinophilia of Icanhascheezburger.com… and on and on, ad infinitum (or so it seems). For these reasons, marketers and agencies will use networks - vertical networks for depth, and broad networks for reach. Yes, reach: As important as relationships are, marketing cannot live on advocacy alone.

Already, we are seeing the merger between the seemingly opposing forces of context and commodity. Many branded-media sites are launching their own vertical networks - catching portions of the Web’s long tail and sheltering them within their brand environments. Indeed, the clean segmentation that used to characterize the media is breaking down. The Booz Allen research shows 84 percent of media companies offering contextual targeting services, 70 percent offering behavioral targeting, and about half providing clients with performance marketing services, email marketing, or both.

For such reasons, I expect many branded media will start using exchanges to help lower their average cost of sales, freeing capital to invest in the enhanced services, insights generation, consultative services, and audience gathering that marketers and agencies need.

Marketplace of Ideas

Which is why IAB is inaugurating a new type of conference on March 31. We call it “IAB Marketplace.” It aims explicitly to take a developing segment of the interactive media marketplace and to provide marketers, agencies and media companies close-in views of that segment as it evolves in real time - as well as introductions to providers they may want to partner with. We chose “Networks & Xchanges” as our first marketplace to showcase for one reason and one reason only: It’s the most controversial.

And as Ecosystem 2.0 showed, IAB loves controversy - because out of heat comes light. “It’s one of the most exciting conferences I’ve ever attended,” Doubleclick research and industry relations director Rick Bruner wrote in his blog. Thanks, Rick! But it’s nothing next to the excitement of our ecosystem as it evolves before our eyes.

Imagine the shorts we’ll be wearing!

blog-header-rr.gifPerhaps the signal moment at Hubert Burda Media’s wonderful DLD Conference in Munich, Germany last week occurred on the morning of the second day. DLD — it stands for “Digital, Life, Design,” and the conclave is modeled in part on the venerable TED Conference, albeit with a distinctly European flair — has grown in only three short years into the premier event for all-things-interactive in Europe. It sports an eclectic mix of speakers and attendees (members of the European Parliament, fashion models who blog, famous architects, unknown Israeli physicists, et al) and is, truth be told, kind of wacky. Its diversity and centerlessness fits the culture of DLD’s sponsoring company: Burda is an extremely successful German periodicals publisher, among whose 260 properties are some of the largest news, womens’, and lifestyle magazines in Europe, yet whose attitude is less businesslike than familial. One of Burda’s core competencies is networking, and the annual DLD meeting networks together a curious and intriguing group, one absolutely devoted to touting the digital future. Needless to say, all speakers project that future to be quite rosy.

Which leads me to the moment in question. It occurred immediately after a swarm of speakers had completed their presentations to a packed house on, as the session titled it, “TV Reloaded.” The presenters were a gallery of latter-day interactive video stars: Dina Kaplan, co-founder and COO of Blip.tv; Suranga Chandratillake, CEO of Blinkx; Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of Joost; and Patrick Walker, head of content strategy and partnerships for YouTube in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The panelists were fulsome about the imminence of traditional television’s defeat. “What we’re doing is very threatening to traditional TV networks,” declared Ms. Kaplan, whose company specializes in episodic online video programming. “Too much is exploding,” said Mr. Zennstrom (who, having helped to launch Skype, knows from explosive technologies). All this revolution needs to ignite it, Mr. Chandratillake suggested, is a way of navigating the new televisual cornucopia, and his company, a search engine with 18 million hours of video spidered and index, is that “next- generation remote control.”

At which point the moderator handed the microphone to a gentleman in the front row. His name is Martin Sorrell, and he is the chief executive of the WPP Group, one of the world’s largest marketing communications companies, and an engineer of the megamerger phenomenon that transformed and globalized the advertising industry in the 1980’s.

“If there’s a phrase I loathe, it’s ‘business model,’” Sir Martin said. “In my company, we have 102,000 people working in 106 countries. Our world is made up of revenues, costs, profits, and cash flow. I’ve heard a lot from this panel on what will be. But we do an enormous amount of business, much of it growing, with broadcast and cable television networks around the world. Can each panelist precisely say what their revenues, profits, and cash flows are today, and what they will be in a few years?

“Please,” Sir Martin added, “be precise.”

Unfortunately, almost no one was.

To be fair, Mr. Chandratillake, whose Blinkx is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange, did say that he expected the company to achieve revenues of some $4 million in its current fiscal year, with costs running at twice that — although, with IPO costs factored out, it would be close to break-even. But each of the others ducked. “In our first year, we came close to breaking even, mostly on software licensing,” Ms. Kaplan said. “We will be profitable this year.” Mr. Walker would say only that YouTube was rising “from low CPM’s to $10, $20 CPM’s,” but would not go further.

Get-Real Time

The reticence was, and is a shame. It is time to get real. The IAB’s Annual Meeting — which we are theming around the primary development of the past year, the emergence of new forms of competition and collaboration across the value chain, a phenomenon we term “Ecosystem 2.0” — is all about getting real, growing up… and grabbing share.

Make no mistake, we are entering into a reality-checking moment — the second in the 15 years since the Mosaic browser was launched, ushering in the modern Internet era. The first reality check was the bursting of the dotcom bubble in 2001-2002. Now, as then, we face a recession and a slowdown in marketer spend. Likely, too, is a tightening in the availability of investment capital, as financial institutions retrench in the wake of the subprime mortgage debacle.

But other factors are quite different. The dotcom bubble was fueled by public equity financing, with individual and institutional investors accepting mad valuations and buying shares based on insane metrics. The 2003-2007 growth surge, by contrast, was financed with real cash looking for real revenues and returns. Whereas the recession of 2002 included a technology-market collapse (in no small part because IT spend had been boosted artificially for years by Y2K compliance considerations), tech companies (telecoms excepted) look to be weathering this downturn, as businesses embrace the productive and connective power of Web-based communications.

Finally, it appears now to be universally accepted by all segments of our ecosystem — media, agencies, and marketers alike — that marketing-communications is becoming a fundamentally digital enterprise.

For the past four months, I have informally been asking IAB member executives the single most insistent question on all our minds: In the event of a recession or significant economic downturn, what happens to interactive advertising spend? Almost universally, they believe a recession will not hinder the continuing growth of our industry.

$60 Billion Path

One week ago, queried thusly at the annual Bear Stearns Virtual Advertising Summit, I reported that finding to the analysts in attendance. They agreed that a recession will prompt a flight to accountability, and considered compound annual growth rates of 25% between now and 2011 entirely feasible — leading to an industry that will reach $60 billion in U.S. revenues over the next four years. At that point, interactive will have become the nation’s largest ad-supported medium.

Certainly, the bets have been large — grand, even. Microsoft closed its $6 billion acquisition of aQuantive in August; CEO Steve Ballmer has said he expects a quarter of Redmond’s revenues eventually to derive from advertising. Google anticipates closing its $1.6 billion of Doubleclick within the next few months; its CEO, Eric Schmidt, recently told The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta that he believes Google now is “in the advertising business.” Sir Martin last summer paid $649 million for 24/7 Real Media, an online ad-network pioneer; 20 years earlier, WPP had paid about $100 million less (unadjusted) to acquire the entire J. Walter Thompson global agency network.

But Sir Martin’s call for precision in projecting, calculating, building and delivering is timely and apt. As the money — not just investor money, but advertiser money — gets large, there is a hunger for understanding and communicating the new rules of the road. What are the success stories? What is a fair price for value delivered? How will the new partnerships among agencies and media companies on behalf of marketers shape up? How will the regulatory environment affect our operations now and in the future? The people paying the bills want to know, and it’s incumbent on the interactive industry to provide answers.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s “Ecosystem 2.0” conference is designed to provide those answers, in an intimate setting where giants and startups can mingle together, leader to leader and team to team. This is the first industry gathering since last spring’s and summer’s explosive M&A activity to bring together the architects of media and marketing’s dramatic reshaping. The focus will be on how the evolving relationship among platforms, publishers, agencies, and marketers is adding value to the value chain — upstream, to the agencies and clients, and downstream, to branded content creators, analysts and insights generators, and service providers.

Yang, Falco, McAndrews

CEO Jerry Yang will keynote on Yahoo’s evolution as a platform — including its acquisitions of online ad exchange Right Media and ad network Blue Lithium. AOL CEO Randy Falco will sit down with me to describe the reasoning behind his acquisitions of the Tacoda behavioral targeting network and other networks, and the organization of a new ad platform business, appropriately named Platform A. Brian McAndrews, formerly aQuantive’s CEO and now Microsoft’s SVP of Advertiser and Publisher Solutions, will explain what he and his team have done to create cross-industry value in the six months since aQuantive climbed through Windows. Rob Norman, CEO of WPP’s Group M Interaction, will explain how ad agencies are adapting — and possibly leading — the transforming industry. Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar will describe vividly how online video is attracting consumers and advertisers now. With an introduction by Johnson & Johnson Global Media Officer Kim Kadlec, the chairman of Babycenter LLC, Tina Sharkey, will showcase how media companies are becoming “insights engines” for their customers. In her first major speech since leaving the top U.S. sales role at Yahoo for the media presidency of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Wenda Harris Millard (IAB’s new chairperson) will outline a worldview shaped by alternate lives in a platform environment and in branded media.

“Ecosystem 2.0” also will feature substantive debates:
  • In an industry first, leaders of two online ad exchanges will challenge leaders of two branded media companies on one of our industry’s roiling controversies: whether networks and exchanges commoditize media and advertising.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton U.S. Media & Entertainment Practice Leader Christopher Vollmer will unveil exclusive results from the consulting firm’s “Marketing-Media Ecosystem 2010” study, zeroing in on how media companies are competing and collaborating in the new interactive environment.
  • In another first, a cross-ecosystem panel — leaders from Ogilvy, Meredith, IAC Corp., Google, and Federated Media, joined by the Chief Marketing Officer of Computer Associates — will respond to the study findings, grappling with who is disintermediating whom in the battle for revenues and share.
  • The brewing regulatory battle over behavioral targeting — and its consequences for marketers and media — will feature in another panel.
The IAB Annual Meeting also will provide a chance for the interactive media industry to celebrate itself, in several surprising ways we will announce in a few weeks — not to mention in informal meals and at least a bit of partying.

With only a few hundred seats on offer, we anticipate an affair as comfortable as it is substantive. As unbridled opportunity and economic constraint collide, “Ecosystem 2.0” is what media, marketing, agency and service-provider executives need now: two-and-a-half days filled with news-you-can-use, sidebars for deal-making, and a chance to mingle with the leaders who are making a difference right now.

The full conference agenda is here.

Registration information is here.

And I hope to see you there.