A MIXX of Takeaways

A couple weeks ago, I attended the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB’s) MIXX conference in New York, which is billed as “the official interactive conference of Advertising Week.” Although I couldn’t get to nearly as many sessions or talk to as many people as I would have liked, I thought it would be helpful to share a smattering of my takeaways here.

Mad Ave. Missing?

Because it was Advertising Week and interactive continues to play a growing role in advertising strategies, I expected to see a lot of Madison Avenue types. Surprisingly, I don’t think they made much of an appearance at MIXX. Perhaps that’s because, unlike with ad:tech, during Advertising Week there were entirely separate venues dedicated to general advertising and they competed for attention. Some might say the Mad Ave. types missed out again. MIXX was sold out, with many of the keynote and popular sessions having standing-room only.

Surprisingly, there were attendees from all over the globe: Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain, and more. Credit the international IABs and their members for showing up in force for their Global Summit 2008, which also took place during Advertising Week. It certainly brought new diversity to the conference.

On the first day of the conference, the IAB released its ad campaign measurement process guidelines that addresses the use of third-party ad servers by advertisers and publishers and the auditing of “processes used in the placement, trafficking and reporting of interactive advertising.”

Compared to years past when the exhibit hall seemed filled with e-mail vendors or search marketing companies, this year’s expo abounded with social media solutions and advertising providers. Is anyone surprised? Still, most of those were not at the previous week’s Social Ad Summit.

MIXX Sessions

Some sessions written up by my ClickZ associates include:

My favorite session was probably PBS’s Charlie Rose’s interview of Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody.” I thought this would be another dull interview of an author basically plugging his book. Although the plug couldn’t really be avoided, the interview was anything but dull. My top takeaways from Shirky:

  • Technology isn’t lowering the cost of connecting people just because it can but also because people want to connect through technology.

  • Technology can give rise to a spontaneous organization, like a political protest movement, but organizers need a way to frame the argument so people will act and not just complain. Organizers also need to know where people already are to reach them.
  • Shirky subscribes to the idea that “the Internet runs on love” in that its success and people’s deep involvement cannot otherwise be rationalized in ways that make sense economically.
  • In marketing, if your fans create amateur marketing departments without you, figure out a way to start a conversation with them so you can work more in tandem.
  • What Apple CEO Steve Jobs knows that many don’t: who the right people to hire are and understanding the customer; you have to listen but not take dictation.

    American automotive manufacturers failed in this latter regard because it thought consumers would want what they advertised. The key is going to where the people already are. A lot of what comes out of marketing is that the Internet is an afterthought, but there’s a real premium on being quiet and just listening. It’s not buying a :30 spot. The Internet is not like TV and getting less so every day. Peer-to-peer conversation is growing, so don’t make your first foray into the conversation a marketing pitch.

  • The downside of group-forming cannot be control. For example, with pro-anorexia teens helping one another, you can shut down a section on a publisher’s Web site, but the group will just take it to the blogs on their own.
  • Don’t try to over-control the conversation. Witness Johnson & Johnson’s blog.
  • Bottom line: when trying to start a group online, you can’t make everyone join and you don’t want to. Just get the dozen who are passionate.

With social media so prominent this year, I wonder by our next major conference where the conversation will take us next.

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