Four days, thousands of marketers, and laser-like attention on history's most successful digital campaign ever.
E-mail marketing? Obama. Social media marketing? Obama. Mobile? Obama. Search? Obama. CRM? Obama. User-generated content? Obama. Integrating on- and offline marketing? Obama.
The world was justifiably engrossed in the U.S.'s historic election this week, and ad:tech, the biggest industry gathering of the year, was no less absorbed, if not obsessed, with the candidate and with what Ogilvy CEO Shelly Lazarus justifiably called a "groundbreaking" marketing campaign.
"The more digital candidate won," Lazarus affirmed in a buoyant keynote address in New York Wednesday morning, one bracketed by a slideshow of Obama images submitted by users to a gallery site her agency had helped build for Kodak.
On Election Day, IAB president Randall Rothenberg opened a discussion by explaining the speakers had insisted he throw out his first question regarding how the economy would affect interactive marketing and replace it with one on the election. This so his panelists, including BabyCenter's Tina Sharkey and GroupM Interaction CEO Rob Norman, could deliver verbal love letters to Obama's interactive tactics and strategy. And that discussion followed the opening keynote from none other than Jonathan Klein, president of CNN. Guess what his topic was?
If not every electoral campaign is blessed with the estimated $8 million the Obama campaign invested in online marketing, that campaign did more than meet its goal of putting its man into the White House. It set a new benchmark for how to approach and execute digital strategies, and this industry's luminaries are looking on it with awe, as well as mining it for lessons learned.
Lazarus marveled that her husband followed her and her children's lead and finally donated to the Obama campaign "because he felt left out" of receiving e-mail and text messages not only from the candidate but also from his wife and others involved in the race. "This is the best CRM campaign that has ever been run to date," she proclaimed.
And Wednesday morning, the halls were abuzz with the gratification supporters felt when they received an e-mail from the president-elect shortly before his victory speech in Chicago's Grant Park, thanking them for helping him get elected.
Not only will Obama's online strategy remain the textbook example of interactive marketing best practices for the foreseeable future, but marketers will be looking forward to what many see as potentially the first digital presidency. Concurrently, there's hope Washington will keep the lines of communication open with supporters and dissenters alike and actually weave digital into the fabric of the presidency. Even if Al Gore had invented the Internet (and John McCain the BlackBerry), it took Barack Obama to harness and leverage these channels and tools effectively enough to literally change the world.
This, too, is cause for industry optimism. With Congress scrutinizing online privacy concerns (behavioral marketing in particular) and with Net neutrality one of the most pressing issues currently facing the digital community, there was hope and optimism among the ad:tech audience that critical issues of policy, regulation, and legislation that could affect the way we do business will be informed by better decision making in Washington.
How can it not warm the cockles of a digital marketer's heart when the president-elect of the United States of America (and his team) are named Marketer of the Year? Obama's election is historic in many much more important ways, of course. But we can take a collective industry moment to bask in this tremendous affirmation, can't we? Moreover, the Obama presidency is a good reason to hope interactive will continue to develop, improve, and positively move forward.
Digital marketing? Yes we can!
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Rebecca was previously VP, U.S. operations of Econsultancy, an independent source of advice and insight on digital marketing and e-commerce. Earlier, she held executive marketing and communications positions at strategic e-services companies, including Siegel & Gale, and has worked in the same capacity for global entertainment and media companies, including Universal Television & Networks Group (formerly USA Networks International) and Bertelsmann's RTL Television. As a journalist, she's written on media for numerous publications, including "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." Rebecca spent five years as Variety's Berlin-based German/Eastern European bureau chief. Rebecca also taught at New York University's Center for Publishing, where she also served on the Electronic Publishing Advisory Group. Rebecca, author of "The Truth About Search Engine Optimization," was ClickZ's editor-in-chief for over seven years.
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