Tuesday, February 10

iMedia Brand Summit Reflections & Forecasts

So I just attended my first iMedia Summit as a brand marketer (as opposed to the agency side). Overall very impressed with the level of presenters and topics. Usually I attend interactive conferences and don't learn a damn thing. Not because I'm so smart. Mainly they just regurgitate the same case studies and industry insights that have been beaten into us over time. Which makes you feel smart but really just makes you lazy.

So rather than tweet away and recap each session, I thought I'd provide the insights that floated to the top. Performing 90 1-minute interviews with media sales reps (the Speed Pitching session) gives you a fairly good overview of where things are heading.

Ads in "Free" iPhone Apps are the Next Widgets
Encountered at least 5 vendors who are now selling ad space in free iPhone apps. Which just proves the theory that anything a consumer stares at longer than 5 seconds is prime advertising real estate. iPhone app hype continues to rise faster than iPhone penetration. If you buy into this then you better get a free iPhone for your CMO so he can review the creative.

Twitter is the Next Podcast
Remember when podcasting was going to be the next big thing? It was like radio, only with a more limited audience. Podcasting still serves a specific niche, but it really isn't the mass channel that was originally hyped.

I like Twitter. I think status posting (or microblogging if you want it to sound more impressive to your boss) is here to stay. But it doesn't make a mass marketing channel from day 1. The hype we thrust upon these new communication channels prevents them from really maturing and finding their place. Best thing you can do is ignore all those tweets and let them at least reach puberty.

Mobile is the Next Mobile
The longest-running emerging trend on Broadway. Soooo many mobile vendors. All still small and niche. None can explain what they do in less than 60 seconds. Most won't be around in 12 months. Rinse and repeat.

The Return of the Streaming Microwebisodecast (with product placement)
There are a ton of video production houses going rogue and starting to work directly with brand marketers -- bypassing the creative agencies and media shops (and their high budgets).

Special thanks to last year's Hollywood writer's strike for providing a new outlet for quality video creative. Which means brands are in charge of creating their own branded videos. Minus the hilarious agency creative team, big name director, and week-long stays at Shutters On The Beach. I wonder how long this trend will last...

Bigger Banners are Better but Consumers Still Don't Click Them
Research companies are still presenting the insight that bigger banners perform better in brand effectiveness studies. Geezus, no kidding. That was in my first Dynamic Logic report circa 2001. And the second. And the 157th.

Google/Doubleclick reports that the average banner CTR is now 0.10%. The norm previously had been 0.15%. That means that now 1 of every 1,000 people click your ads. As Google encouraged us: "This decrease seems to have stabilized." Yeah, because the water on my driveway froze solid, but luckily it isn't getting any solider. Is it even statistically possible to get below 0.10% of anything?

The World does not Need a 500K Banner (file size, not price)
Seriously, someone tried to convince me that a 500K square banner would be awesome. Now, a $500K banner I might be intrigued by. Maybe for next year's Superbowl.

Your Email Inbox is the Next Social RSS Reader
I now have email inboxes on Facebook and Linkedkin, at work, and at home. I need to be notified of friends' Twitter posts, Facebook wall posts, friend invites, Linkedin profile updates, blog comments, and when I am tagged in bad high school photos.

All of these create alerts that I can have routed to one email address. So rather than checking all these sites (plus my phone SMS, and my iPhone apps, and my Blackberry), I have them forwarded to my home email. Which is forwarded to my iPhone email. So while away from my computer I know everything going on in my social networks. No different than an RSS reader that gets updates from all the websites/blogs that I have tagged.

If I can get that RSS reader to send daily summaries to my email address then I will be completely decentralized centralized.

The Recession has not Hit the Swag Industry
My tally of free stuff:

  • Best Swag = free Zoot running shoes
  • Lamest = 5 inch stack of branded Post-it Notes
  • Most Repetitive = branded USB thumbdrives
  • Yummiest = chocolate-covered pretzels (eaten)
  • Sort of Yummy = fortune cookies containing sales call to actions (eaten as last resort)
  • Most Relaxing = wooden foot massager with peppermint lotion
  • Least Relaxing = branded Rubik's Cube
  • Vaguest = leather desktop holder for something (pens? business cards? wooden foot massager?) with embedded clock
  • Most Retro = large zip-up portfolio with my name on it
  • Closest to Downright Bribery = branded $30 Visa Gift Card. Or maybe it was a stimulus card
  • Most Useful = empty box with paid postage to mail it all back home

That's it. I'd definitely come back to the Florida Gulf in February next year. Despite my sarcasm, there was a lot of good information and insights. And some sort of drama at 3 AM on the 4th floor. But what goes on at iMedia stays at iMedia. At least until the webcasts are uploaded.

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