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nextMEDIA Conference | June 5-7, 2009 | Day 3 Notes

Posted by Chris Becker on 09.06.09

Banff, Canada | Sunday, Jun 7, 2009 | Day 3 started with a session on web trends with Bryan Segal of Comscore. Some of the points:

  • 51% of video watched online is from YouTube.
  • Overall click through rates are dropping.
  • Combining online ad tactics (e.g. search and display) multiply the results.

Next was the panel discussion on 'Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin: Anyone Else Having Trouble Keeping Up?' ... and being one of the panelists I was anxious to meet-up with the group: Maggie Fox from Social Media Group, Dario Meli from Invoke and Kris Krug our moderator. We'd been sending emails back and forth but the online discussions didn't become real-world meet-ups until about 45 minutes before the session. With the conference attendees being media and tech savvy, this panel was a chance to get past the basics of social media and talk about some practical and effective ideas for how to make the most of all the new ways to interact. Kris took a very active approach with the audience, soliciting questions from anyone right from the start, and embedding himself at various sites in the theatre ... it was a great way to drive the discussion. Here are some of the main points that were discussed from my point of view:

  • Principal of needing to give back when engaging in social media campaigns ... don't repeat the spam mistakes of previous digital innovations like email.
  • When starting with Twitter, begin by listening before talking. This was a validation of a point Steve Hulford, Filemobile's Founder and Chief Creative Officer has made to me before and it makes a lot of sense.
  • Lots of third party tools out there (e.g. Tweetdeck, Hootsuite) to filter and search the social applications for relevant information, conversations on your company, industry, competitors, etc.
  • There were some different points of view on the role of brand or commercial 'micro sites' amidst the emergence of the various social sites. Some suggested that 'micro sites' were no longer relevant. I didn't agree with this and suggested what we are experiencing is a blurring of the lines between public social portals where people spend the bulk of their digital lives, and destination sites which more and more will integrate social streams such as twitter streams, public registration (e.g. Facebook Connect or OpenID) and community.
  • Linkedin received some love ... I'd suggested it is poised to experience significant growth as a 'Facebook for Business'

Thanks to all my colleagues on the panel for a great discussion. I really enjoyed meeting everyone.

Next up was the 'Think Tank Luncheon – Why Mobile, Why Now?' which was being facilitated by a few colleagues including Dale Fallon from The Score, Mark Thompson from The Weather Network and Mark Ruddock from Viigo. The group was divided by table and asked to discuss various topics related to the mobile space including monetization, trends and adoption. My table discussed ideas for what we thought the mobile space would look like in 2012. Some of the points made included:

  • Growth in utility based tools - the mobile devices as the 'remote control for your life'.
  • Location and context aware utilities that know user's likes, preferences, location and can proactively provide useful and timely information.
  • The device as an extension of your other appliances (e.g laptop, refrigerator, car) with data managed in the 'the cloud'.

After lunch, I went back to the main convention area to watch 'Build Your Business with Mobile Applications' presented by John Saydam from Blackberry. Up next was the 'Branded Entertainment: In the Trenches with the Experts' panel. Panelists included Dayton Pereira, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Indusblue. Dayton was joined by a group of panelists which included Matt DiPaola | Proximity/BBDO, Sean Embury | Fjord Interactive/Cossette, Jesse Albert | ICM Talent, Jeffery Dickstein | Ubisoft as well as the moderator Andrew Lane | *nitch. Each had a great case study. Darren presented the CBC/Rogers - Hockey Mashup campaign. Others included CapriSun 'Respect the Pouch' and Alka Seltzer 'speedroadtrip.com'. Jesse made an interesting point that he thought the recent writer's strike in Hollywood was an important catalyst in driving creativity into other parts of the industry including performers. One common themes at the center of these campaigns was the focus on the 'prosumer' or 'user generated talent' which often brought an element of energy, fresh content and product knowledge to the projects.

Day 3 was now turning into 'all things mobile' with the next session: 'Mobile Apps that Work: Augmenting The Business Model By Innovating Utility' with Marina Mann. This was a great session with Marina talking about some of the most innovative mobile applications she'd seen ... some I didn't even think were possible so it was pretty exciting:

  • Sling Player | Stream your cable programming to your mobile phone.
  • Tap Tap Revenge | The most popular iPhone app.
  • Qik Demo | Live, geo-aware video streaming from your iPhone to the world.
  • Fring | wi-fi based telephony.
  • Trapster | Crowdsourced speed trap finder that notifies you when you are about to enter a speed trap ... great 'lifehacking' tool!
  • Style.com | Marina's example of an iPhone app with a great user experience.
  • Air Strip OP Technology | Mobile applications that enable doctors to remotely track the medical status of their patients.
  • Wikitude (Android) | Augmented reality tools including the ability to replace advertising with alternative visuals such as art in your view of the world.
  • Google SMS | Marina emphasized the continued effectiveness of SMS and highlighted Google SMS, where you can text almost any question to '466453' and get an answer ... try it out.
  • Marina just added her own summary of links so here you go: http://delicious.com/marinamann/mobile

The next session was the funniest of the conference: 'Digitization and Disruption: 5 Rules of Survival (or more)'. This panel pitted the CEO of BitTorrent (and a retired Navy Seal), Eric Klinker against Dave Purdy, VP & GM, Television Products, Rogers Cable. These two personified the two extremes of the digital media IP debate. There was discussion of how IP owners and distributors could utilize technologies like BitTorrent to legally distribute content. It was news to me to hear that BitTorrent transfers more data in a day than Akamai does in a month, and that there are over 300,000 downloads of the BitTorrent client per day. Dave had a good catch phrase about the trends we are all living in being a shift from the 'tyranny of the corporations to the republic of users'. Dave pointed out that the carriers and broadcasters can't affect this trend, so we must figure out how to add value given the market demand of users watching what they want, when they want ... and given users have the ability to time-shift and place-shift content. Eric highlighted the inevitability of technological advance with his sound bite: 'Technology is like gravity - while you can try, you can't win an argument against gravity'. He also brought in a Civil War analogy (nice!) to illustrate the same idea, equating the inevitability of technological advance to the inevitability of the victory of the Union Army over the Rebels after 1863 - in both cases, the battle rages on, and there will be more casualties as a result, but the outcome has already been determined. The conversation included a description of Rogers move to enable customers to access the content they've subscribed to via any device or platform and the necessity to wrap this experience with an authentication layer ... opening up the potential to utilize peer-to-peer technologies within this layer. This is likely not as great a fit for Rogers given their cable business but other media companies need to continue to look for alternatives to effectively distribute increased volumes of content. The panel was moderated by Gavin McGarry of Jumpwire Media. Gavin recommended the book 'The Pirate's Dilemma' for those interested in delving deeper into the topic.

With the nextMEDIA conference drawing to a close, the TV people started arriving. The Banff Television Festival is a much bigger (and fancier) affair. The two conferences mixed together with a few 'cross-over' events. The centerpiece was a presentation by Ron Berryman, SVP & GM, Fox Interactive Media. A few gratuitous FOX plugs .. and with all the talk of Facebook and Twitter, Ron didn't forget to point out at the start that MySpace is out there as well. I was able to glean three interesting nuggets:

  • Television commercial reach has diminished significantly ... In 1965, you could reach the 18-45 year-old consumer segment with 3 television commercials (one on each of the three major networks). To reach that same audience in 2006, it requires 211 commercials.
  • Types of revenue streams in digital (from FOX's perspective) include: CPC, CPM, CPT (cost per transaction), lead generation, subscription, affiliate revenue, brand licensing, sale of information, content licensing, content up-selling / free-to-pay, branded content, syndication, value added services and experiential programs.
  • FOX uses meta data derived from speech recognition and image recognition to search video content.

The last day ended with a reception for both the nextMEDIA and TV festival attendees. It was great to meet people from the various parts of the broadcast media world as well as see colleagues and spend time with friends and customers including Joan Prowse from CineFocus. Joan's television perspective mixed with her interest and knowledge of interactive made for great conversations. We talked about how the two conferences could be combined fully into a cross-platform media conference to further drive the discussion and innovation.

So, all in a all, a whirlwind of learning and networking. While the panels and presentations were thought provoking, the greatest part was meeting with groups from all walks of digital life and sharing ideas and opinions. Some of the 'trends' that seemed to be emerging as themes included:

  1. 'Localization' of content on the web and mobile;
  2. Power of mobile to capture the live event, in particular live video streaming;
  3. Increase in the use of web and mobile as utilities, aiding in life's everyday tasks ('life-hacking');
  4. Continuation of online ad optimization based upon results, including less reliance on traditional search and banners;
  5. Advances in 'augmented reality' and its ability to remove 'live advertising spam';
  6. Belief that funding models besides advertising will emerge in digital, including subscription;
  7. Understanding that content must be developed from the beginning with all platforms of distribution in mind;
  8. Fragmentation of 'social' destinations sites to serve more and more specific needs and segments (ok... this is more my own opinion but seems reasonable ... :) as it would be a mirror of the pattern of most emerging or restructuring industries); and
  9. Confusion seemed to be an underlying emotion at the conference - for me, one thing that seemed to help navigate this confusion was a 'back to basics' mentality, centered around what really motivates people to consume media. It was pointed out a few times during the conference that while the viewing of scheduled television is dropping, particularly with younger demographics, OVERALL media consumption is increasing. In the midst of this dynamic, keeping your eye on basic human behavior might aid in finding success. In the end, people like to hear/watch/tell a good story. People love to be asked for their opinions about things they care about. People love to know what other people think is hot and cool. And people want to know what other people think about them. I find it helpful to keep these truths in mind.

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