Yesterday I returned from the first Ad:Tech event of the year in San Francisco. As usual, it was a great opportunity to reconnect with friends in the industry and pick up a few new nuggets of what’s new in digital marketing. I also had the chance to give back some knowledge to the event participants during a session that I joined Tuesday afternoon. Here in this post I will share what I shared, as well as some of the highlights from the Tuesday sessions.
A New World of Word of Mouth: Using Influence to Re-invent the Impression
This was the session that I had a chance to present in, along with three other brilliant digital marketers: Tim Schigel, CEO of ShareThis, Jim Price, President of Empower MediaMarketing, and Joel Lunenfeld, CEO of Moxie Interactive.
I moderated the session and kicked things off with a marketer’s perspective on what’s new in digital marketing—and I promptly shocked (shocked!) the crowd by declaring that marketers have lost their perspective on what makes digital marketing great. I launched into the slides above, in which I attempted to make the point that if we dumb down digital marketing to being measured by the same, basic “impression” that traditional media has used forever we will kill the innovation that makes new media great. I love starting with a provocative note and I think the audience reacted very well according to the smiles, nods, and Twitter feedback I saw during my short segment.
Following me, Tim shared some excellent research on how people share content, and why we need to remember the right “word” in word of mouth. Jim shared a case study on how his firm used a killer new media model developed by ShareThis in which the Mederma scar creme was able to target advertisements to people who had shared relevant content with others. And Joel wrapped things up with a story about how marketers need to move toward looking at creating digital content that mirrors the video game industry—starting with the joystick that is the mobile phone. I will share their decks here when they are available.
Jamie Cohen Szulc—CMO of the Levi’s Brand
Jamie kicked off the Tuesday session with a keynote speech about how his brand has hit the recent button in recent months to become more meaningful to consumers’ lives. While only six months into his job, Jamie is pushing a revolution through this legendary brand that has fallen off the tracks in recent years. I could barely keep up with the gems that rolled off his tongue, but some of the quotes and insights he shared included:
- “Marketers want more, global control at a time when the market is fragmenting more than ever.”
- “The Internet taps into core human values.”
- Levi’s has to become “original, real, and relevant to ME.”
- The brief for the new campaign was simple: “Make people fall in love with Levi’s again.”
- Although the new marketing work started with a TV commercial “to signify a new approach,” the brand is taking it to much more digital and meaningful work from here on out.
- “We must move from Marketing ROI to creating Business Models.”
- “Change must start from within—you’ve got to change the organizational culture first.”
- Change is great and needed, but “you can’t disrupt a market in a day… it’s a long-term investment.”
Overall, it was great to see a big brand CMO take the stage and talk openly and honestly about a meaningful marketing transformation in progress.
Chris Anderson Talks About the iPad
This was another treat—to see the Wired magazine leader and author of books such as The Long Tail and FREE give us his take on Apple’s latest game changer. While I think I would pay to see Chris talk about anything, it was particularly interesting to hear him share his thoughts on how he looks at the iPad from a magazine’s perspective.
Carrying a silver iPad onto the stage (I kept worrying that he would drop it), Chris started off by claiming, yes, this is the next big computing platform after the PC and mobile phone. He claimed that despite misses on tablet computing in the past, the time was ripe today because of three things:
- The success of the iPhone showed the power of a rich media application platform.
- The success of the Kindle showed how a flexible, convenient media and distribution channel brings a better experience.
- The rise of cloud computing means tablets need a less powerful chip, less bloatware, and less hard drive space—which frees up companies such as Apple to build a lovely device.
Chris tied together magazine insider insights with topics that he explored in his books. His main point was that he was excited that the iPad will offer a much better experience for Wired readers. He and his team have been working on the platform for a while already, and they promise to launch a magazine that will combine the best of print and digital. Chris talked about how the killer platform of the iPad might allow for scarcity again, and create a better business model. His point is that “scarcity power” for print magazines was based on the cost-of-entry barriers of printing and distributing physical magazines. But the free information of the Internet is destroying these entry barriers, making scarcity a thing of the past, and killing the magazines’ business model.
He thinks that it will take high-end designers to make the most of the iPad’s platform—meaning that Joe Blogger won’t be able to offer a free experience that matches what Wired is working on. So quality of the experience could be a barrier to entry and driver of scarcity that leads to new profits. While I’m doubtful that this will happen, it would be a “good” kind of scarcity that is based on reader enjoyment rather than means of production.
Chris lost me completely, however, when he delved into the case for how advertising could be revolutionized on the iPad. He talked about how it could allow for engagement, move beyond measuring CPM, and be more creative. But everything he said is already possible today with Web-based marketing. A relative handful of people using iPads will not cause a revolution. Rather, organizations have to take the first step to embrace these features and possibilities that already exist on the Web. He also was in awe that people would now have to page through full-page ads again with the new iPad magazine experience. This, to me, is a step backward in the consumer experience. It just seemed like a lot of wishful thinking for a business that just cannot survive without the mass marketing model.
So thanks to my friends at Ad:Tech (especially Brad Berens) for inviting me to speak at and learn from this great conference once again. I hope to see you in the next events in Chicago or New York!