That's the best way to describe the outcome of this week's iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Miami. Over the last few years I've attended every Breakthrough summit and they seem to just keep getting better. This year's theme was focused on the future of media and technology, and we had three days of inspiring presentations, working sessions and conversations that really got people thinking! Taking a look at the tweet stream #imediasummit today, it appears I'm not the only one who felt that way...."intense workout for the brain", "too many good ideas", "my favorite iMedia so far"
We got off to a strong start at Mobile Media Bootcamp on Sunday. Why would 70 of us spend the better part of Sunday (8 am - 3:30 pm) sitting in a well chilled conference room on a 75 degree sunny day in Miami...because there was great information shared about what's really going on in the industry. We started with a opening keynote focused on the impact social marketing is having and how we need to focus on 4 core areas of impact: Search, Rate, Buy, Report. Consumers are quick to jump to their mobile phones today to check out a new product, rate a restaurant they just ate at, buy a product or post a customer service complaint. Marketers need to understand how consumers are interacting and respond accordingly. Keeping your head in the sand is not an option. We then moved on and took a hard look at the myths and realities of mobile marketing. Table conversations were inspired by thoughts of a panel of experts and not only did great discussions happen, but the opportunity for publishers, agencies and marketers to interact provided a big picture look and insights for all. Before lunch we got a chance to look at results of the results from the 53rd Grammy Awards digital marketing efforts (and watch some great video clips). After lunch the room was stunned by a look at mobile marketing efforts in Japan. You could see people's eyes lighting up at how much more is being done with mobile in Japan and the wheels started turning for how we can do more here in the US. We then moved into a couple of sessions that provided the latest mobile stats and research, talked about technology opportunities and had a final chance to share ideas with each other before getting the last few hours of the afternoon by the pool.
Monday morning brought the biggest highlight of the event, a keynote presentation from Jaron Lanier. Lanier has virtually grown up with the internet and has an incredible insight on what's happened, and where things are headed. He started his presentation suggesting that internet advertising, most notably what's gone on at Google has transitioned an industry of inspiration to an industry of transactions. So much of what we do is shortsighted, focused on immediate results and we're missing an opportunity to truly engage consumers and build loyalty. I like many others was truly inspired by what he shared, and it's clearly going to make a difference on how I approach things in the future. Now, I do have to admit, his message didn't resonate with everyone, there were some naysayers in the tweetstream that day, but most of the folks I chatted with thought he was brilliant.
Following the keynote, there were an assortment of well recieved master classes. I chose to attend one focused on what's next for mobile that took a look at near term and long term opportunities. We saw examples of what's being done today and what might be possible with RFID and near field communications in the near future. Again, inspiration flowed and brains started buzzing. Tw0 other master classes were held simultaneously and in talking with folks after, I wish I could have attended all 3!
Following lunch on Monday we had three inspiring presentations about what's coming. Mark Silva's premise "This could change everything" was truly paid off and most folks realized just how much it's already and continued to change everything. It's not about what could change, it's what will change! We also got a great look at what's new on the game consoles and saw great examples of the work Red Bull is doing with virtually reality and their new can racing game. After the presentations there were Xboxes and can's of Red Bull so we could try things out ourselves.
Moving on to Tuesday, we got a chance to hear presentations from 4 startup firms and see how they positioned their companies and the upcoming future. The inspiration and excitement flowed from the stage and the panel shared some great thoughts on how to approach startup businesses in this new economy. A notable quote from that morning was that without a business plan, you've really just got an expensive hobby! We then moved on to hear some insight from an industry veteran who set the ground work for an excellent discussion group forum on innovation in the afternoon.
Now I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention the cocktail parties, dinners and evening events that are a core part of the iMedia experience. As always, we were in a great venue, had good food and plenty of time for networking...but the interesting nuance this time was the amount of discussion of the days content permeated throughout the evening conversations. We talked metrics, mobile and social into many late hours of the evening.