I've been attending ad:tech New York for many years now, and it's always interesting to see what sessions attract the most attention and what people are talking about when they leave. If you judged ad:tech high points by session attendance, you'd think you were at SXSW instead of ad:tech - social was definitely hot! But my biggest takeaway is that the convergence of advertising, marketing, communications, and technology still continues its forward charge and that no one can rest on their laurels of past performance if they want to be relevant into the foreseeable future. With these sage words, allow me to recap some of the more interesting predictions, statistics, and tidbits from the latest ad:tech conference.
Sites need to be developed for richer sharing. Sharing is going to go beyond social bookmarking, tweeting, and simple sharing. Site owners need to think about every element of their site being independently shareable. Sarah Personette, director of global agency relations for Facebook showcased the Levi's website, which allows you to create your own store, share your selections with friends, and integrate Facebook elements like friends' birthdays so you can be reminded and send them gifts directly from the store.
Search has seen its day. Get ready for more "search is dead" quotes soon. More than one presenter discussed the fact that social, mobile, and video will surpass search revenue within five years.
Jeff Green of The Trade Desk, however, covered a nice case study showing how maximizing search by adding retargeting plus optimized display (e.g., by Zip code, day-of-week/time-of-day, top-performing sites, DMAs, or states) can show significant lift for campaigns: i.e., think about what's really moving product.
The Google vs. Facebook war rages on. Google debuted its Google+ Pages for Business just prior to ad:tech and its Head of Social Advertising Products Christian Oestlien gave a stat-packed evening keynote, including:
90 percent of people rely on personal recommendations from friends
84 percent of people are online doing research before making a purchase decision
77 percent of all content around brands is being shared by the user, not the brand
95 percent of posts to or about a brand go unanswered
Social will only be authentic to a point. This is my personal assessment based on all the pay-for-play options and manipulation of social engagement. Brands eager to capitalize on the power of social should proceed with caution. I'm not opposed to things like sponsored conversations or paid-for influence, but what I'd like to see is more full disclosure that this is going on.
In a word, yes! Advertising will continue to migrate away from traditional, more simple, and more labor-intensive delivery mechanisms and into more technical, automated solutions. Among these standouts:
Ad exchanges and DSPs…with the layering-in of DMPs for good measure
HTML5 and what it will enable developers to deliver to users
Mobile - it's "finally" come of age here in the U.S., according to comScore's Media Evangelist Eli Goodman, and speaking of…
Mobile-first development. Stephen Gates, senior creative director of Starwood Hotels made a great case for developing first for mobile before the browser.
Potency of mobile + local for real $$$. Several presenters featured case studies that proved the closer someone is to a physical location they're using their device to help find, the greater the likelihood for purchase.
Some final thoughts:
More acronyms. Last year, the DSPs and RTBs ruled; this year, they were still present but took a back seat to social: SOCO, SOLOMO, and SO-MO-VID. And yet, the ever-popular ROI still got its due.
Steve Jobs worship continues. Keynote speaker and Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson attracted a huge audience. The most salient message for me was Jobs' belief that before profits must come great products, and in order to get that, you need to have a great company.
The new tablet phenomenon. Many attendees had tablets, particularly iPads, which they readily held up to take photos of the presentation screens.
Lots of busting on "old school" advertising agency processes, methodologies, and business models. It's still very much an "us" versus "them" mentality here.
Entertainment always wins over a crowd. You would think a bunch of advertising experts would already know this, but most presentations lacked pizzazz. Those who entertained like Colin Wescott-Pitt's presentation of the Dos Equis campaign or Ben Fox's amazing slide show on the future of the ad marketplace stood heads and tails above the rest.
Best new technologies. Through Twitter, I tried to crowdsource for feedback. Responses (my own included) mentioned GeoEdge, Semcasting, Mobile App Tracking, hashtagart, and SocialToaster.
Presentations. Couldn't make it to ad:tech NY? Why not at least download the presentations?
A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."