At the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in March, Lars Bastholm (formerly AKQA) referred to a question his associate Tom Bedecarre (AKQA) had previously asked him; "why is so much decision making made by 25 year old media buyers?" My new friends in attendance said they all thought of me, the lone 25 year old media buyer in the room. I immediately realized that I needed to write something up to share my perspective and voice to everyone.
I was excited to get my invite to the Breathrough Summit in Coconut Point this past month, my first iMedia conference ever. I was apprehensive on my way down to Florida, not knowing what exactly to expect. I was told, “introduce yourself to everyone you can,” “go to as many of the sessions as possible,” and of course, “pace yourself,”
The Saturday night cocktail party threw me right into the fire. There were greetings full of “what company are you from?”, “oh is that in New York?” I was pleasantly surprised by how open and inviting everyone was right off the bat. Everybody was there to meet people and share thoughts without pretense. “The Latin 3” welcomed me with open arms, and so began my first iMedia Summit.
I wouldn’t call mobile my strong point so I was excited to sit in at the Mobile Bootcamp and absorb everything. I understood that mobile isn’t the largest medium and there are restrictions with the providers, but there was a tremendous amount of buzz and excitement over the things you can do with this platform so I was looking forward to learning more.
Bootcamp opened quite appropriately with a great video of a 1984 Motorola commercial for their “Zack Morris” phone, shown by John Hadl of Brand in Hand. The mobile phone is a true extension of one’s self and cannot be disregarded, they keynote stressed. There are 63MM mobile web users out there just waiting for our message.
Pahan Johar of Jumptap led us through the “Top 10 Myths of Mobile Advertising.” Recent reports are crushing the idea that mobile does not have enough reach, currently with more supply than there is demand. Third party serving is becoming the standard and Nielsen and Comscore are providing research. Performance on mobile is exponentially better than the web, including brand favorability and purchase intent. The growing landscape is out there and marketers are tasked with how to innovatively make the best use of this opportunity.
The creative showcase by Derek Handley of Hyper Factory featured some of the greatest uses of mobile marketing I’ve seen. Even though the excitement is driven by the iPhone these days, we still need to remember that Java based phones have the capabilities to do wonders. We saw the UK’s “Lynxeffect Girlfinder” application, a java tool that “helped” men pick up women out on the town! Motorola, used ad space in the Hong Kong airport terminal, blue tooth technology and camera phones to provide a dynamic out of home/mobile experience as the travelers sent goodbye messages on the billboards. Tohato in Japan created an SMS based “war” that helped promote potato chips. The NHL received 15MM votes for the All Star Game as they wove the call-to-action through their traditional strategies.
I could not wait to get back with a new understanding and respect for my colleagues in our mobile group and cannot wait to try to work mobile into more of my plans.
When the full Breakthrough Summit began, our intimate group of mobile enthusiasts had grown 10 fold. All of a sudden I was surrounded by hundreds of people from all over the country, all there for the same reason; emerging digital marketing.
The speakers were all incredible with such undeniable passion for everything they spoke about. I looked at these industry leaders as rockstars and people you just read about in the trades and admire for all of the innovation and great projects they have done.
There were talks of digital out of home (sorry I missed that master class) as well as video and gaming but the real hot topic was social media. Being an early adopter to the internet (Was within the early subscribers to AOL) as well as social networks, (Friendster?) this struck me as something I really needed to listen to. Many think they “know” social media, but I was ready to hear it from the experts.
“The conversation about your brand is happening no matter what. Marketers need to listen.” This was such a consistent theme for all speakers. The aforementioned AKQA duo’s keynote stated that marketers need to “monitor and join the conversation” and “give tools to help carry the conversation.” Skittles provided users a way to tie all of their social media discussions to one place. The consumers were the ones who “created” their homepage by just interacting in their normal behaviors; adding to Wikipedia, Facebook, Twittering, Youtube, etc.
The question I always try to figure out is, how can I make social media part of how I plan? The marketing effort for social media needs to start with the beginning of the conversation. The consumers will interact and converse regardless of media budgets telling them to do so. Marketers need to get in the “sandbox” and not stand on a soapbox – someone stated. (I am so sorry to whoever said this, my notes are shoddy here)
Steve Rubel of Edelman brought us through the “7 Deadly Sins of Social Media. This was a great foundation to assist in pushing me towards proper ways to introduce this into my own thinking. No “GMOOT” (Get Me One Of Those). Be original and relevant. Don’t overdo it – start small and hit the right audience. This is not about traffic, it’s about relationships. Don’t be big on brand messaging, be fun and take criticism well. Most importantly – don’t follow the fad, do this for the right reasons, add value to your brand and just “Love it.”
Being that I was activity Twittering #iMediaSummit  all week, it was appropriate for me to join the master class given by Rodney Rumford (Gravitational Media) and Christi Day (Southwest Airlines). Twitter matters and its here to stay – Rumford stressed. What else do you know that has grown 1382% in a year and has pushed right through to mass appeal? (Thanks @The_Real_Shaq , @iamdiddy ) Social Media is about joining the conversation and the conversation is happening on Twitter. Powerhouse brands such as Comcast, H&R Block, Ford and Jet Blue are embracing Twitter. Day explained that she is the voice behind @SouthwestAir . Twitter is a part of the Southwest Air press release schedule and they use it as part of their entire planning process.
A simple search for your brands on Twitter can show you more than you can imagine. Syndicated research is not telling us that a new car purchaser really loves their new vehicle or that my friend really loves a new TV show and I should watch it. Once you identify the audience and the need to be part of it, join it. Rumford advised that brands need to go in with defined goals and an understanding of how to use this as part of the strategy. Besides just following and listening, add valuable content and engage. Day tweets not only about the offers happening with Southwest Air, but about their Rapping Flight Attendant and even her own little tidbits to show that she is “real.” Although the ad model discussion is still in the works, Twitter needs to be used as a tool with different expectations than you’d view your traditional planning. And yes, I even Twittered about the presentation about Twitter.
I Twittered randomly throughout the conference while others gave amazing recaps of the presentations in real time. I went to iMedia with about 20 Twitter followers, mostly friends who aren’t as engulfed in digital media as myself. I was approached a few times by people going “are you @asianjenna ? I’m following your twitter.” Within the course of the Summit, I was up to 50 followers. When I got home, 60. Now I am over 80 followers deep, three weeks later. The activity seen across Twitter was a case study in its own right. My own Twittersphere grew virally over the course of 5+ days and I’m still going.
I could talk for ages about the National Geographic Genographic Project  presentation by Spencer Wells but I’ll save that for when I get my kit results. (Thanks Nat Geo!) I am still in awe over the fact that I had dinner and drinks with one of the “founding fathers of the video game industry,” Nolan Bushnell.
I could not have asked for a better way to start off my iMedia experiences. I’m ready to take everything I learned and practice them whenever I get a chance.
I left Florida exhausted, yet highly revitalized in how innovative this industry real is. I need to properly thank everyone who shared their knowledge, presented, had a drink or even came up to just say hello to the “sole 25 year old media planner in the room.” I plan to apply your wisdom and foresight to all of my future plans.