I felt the best presentation of the Summit was Steve Rubel's "Building Word of Mouth through Community Marketing" that talked about the blog, podcasthing and customer advertising phenomena. He also had some good thoughts on Attack Gripe Sites and the stupid things some marketers are doing about them. You can find an example of customer's who love a product creating ads -- the well reported example of a teacher who created an iPod ad (this downloads a ~10MB zip file so be forewarned). Other sessions that were good (or I heard were good but didn't hear due to other breakouts) included the following:
- Jeff Jarvis' session -- "Blogs: Phenomena or Force?"
- "Multi-Cultural Marketing" breakout given by Peter Blacker, Vice President, International & Multicultural, AOL Media Networks, Erin Patton, President, The Mastermind Group and Stacy Crespo, Motorola, Director of Business Development & Partnership Strategies who gave people some new ways of thinking about segmentation.
- Dr. Jeff Cole (Director, USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future) gave a presentation on their longitudinal study on the Internet entitled "An Essential Part of Everyday Life".
I am regularly surprised how bad a surprisingly high # of senior execs can be in giving presentations. Joe Uva is the President and CEO of OMD -- one of the largest ad agencies around. Here he is presenting in front of literally billions of dollars worth of ad budgets and thus should be trying to impress them. Yet, his presentation style was very dull combined with large swaths of content that the audience was well aware of -- i.e., "broadband is here" and "DVRs will change TV advertising". OMD is one agency I haven't worked with but I walked away saying, "if that's their best person (theoretically), I know they aren't worth inviting into future agency reviews".
Realizing value from sponsorships
Though this was my 6th iMedia summit, it was the first I attended as a marketer since I was there representing a travel company in my role as acting CMO. While I believe that iMedia consistently provides the best potential value for sponsors, there's a real range of whether the sponsors realize the value of their sponsorship. The best sponsor breakfast presentations were Advertising.com and WeatherBug as I learned new things about both companies that I wasn't terribly familiar with (e.g., insightful case study or unique ad type). Naturally, sponsors who are more familiar have a tougher challenge to educate attendees but even with them I think they'd find most marketers don't have a deep understanding about what makes them unique (e.g., do they have particular insights about a key target audience). For example, most of the sponsors don't seem to coordinate the release of company news and research to time with key events. It's typical big company stuff where the right arm doesn't know what the left arm is doing. Having something interesting to tell people at 7:30am is obviously key to keeping their attention -- usually talking about yourself fails the basic question that should be answered "what's in it for me (the marketer)?".