Following the closing of the exhibit hall and with no on-site vendor-hosted parties, the hotel bar filled to capacity. Several found their way across the street to the Atom/Shockwave party where there were prize drawings every half hour, with one of the first prizes won by consultant extraordinaire Tia Fix. Many regulars appeared.
The Yahoo Vodka Luge
After the Shockwave party, people headed up Geary to the Hotel Monaco for the Yahoo party which was one of the few parties where one could actually carry on a conversation without losing a larynx. Delicious finger-food was passed and an ice sculpture-funnel was used to serve drinks.
Dinner at Grande Cafe
After a bit of dinner, it was off to the two big events of the night. The bluelithium AD:TECH Wrap Up Party at Ruby Skye and that "other" VIP party. Even before entering Ruby Skye, the throbbing could be felt. As one followed the winding dark hallway towards the dance floor, the throbbing grew ever more powerful until one was engulfed in sound that shook the body to the bone. Two dancers gyrated on their raised platforms as did the throngs of sweating bodies on the main dance floor. It was truly a sea of dripping human sweat. For relief, there was a tiny, enclosed, air-conditioned balcony room that overlooked the dance floor that had a party of its own going on courtesy of two female dancing conference attendees.
Blue Lithium Dancer
Following a stellar trapeze act, bluelithium launched into an ill-advised PowerPoint presentation that was rife with technical difficulty and complete lack of audience attention, proving again that alcohol and business presentations do not mix. All in all though, a good time was had.
After bluelithium quieted down, the party moved up the street to the Cliff Room, a high-ceilinged, low key bar with lots of comfy chairs making late night conversation pleasurable.
Monday's first Media Matters Session, Leveraging Interactive and Broadcast and Aggregating TV Audiences Online was led by moderator Matt Wasserlauf, President and CEO of Broadband Enterprises. The panel included ESPN Motion Director and General Manager Ed Davis, CNET Networks VP Business Development Chas Edwards and AtomShockwave CEO Mika Salmi.
The theme of the panel rested with broadband's ability to deliver television quality video over the web. CNET's Edwards said research has shown that television-style ads viewed online are far less annoying than the same ads viewed on television. He cited Yankelovich research stating 64 percent of consumers are "pummeled" by ads and 77 percent of TiVo users skip commercials yielding an "opt-out culture." which calls for the more opt-nature of the web. Edwards reviewed CNET's Instream ads and how the site has plans to replace most of its images with video.
AtomShockwave's Salmi jumped in and explained his AtomFilms and Shockwave offerings which he described as "pre-roll" and claims use of these technologies has delivered click throughs from nine to eleven percent.
ESPN Motion's Davis said his company (as did Salmi's) decided to design ESPN Motion as a downloadable, rather than streaming, application to insure the quality of video delivery and so that the company can better manage resources by controlling the download process. Davis hinted at a soon to be released "send to a friend" feature which will allow ESPN Motion users to forward videos to those that do not yet have ESPN Motion installed.
None of the three speakers did a great job at tying their technologies back to advertiser's needs. Sure there were some examples but other than the knowledge that television commercials can now be placed on the web, not much else was offered.
Monday's second Media Matters session, Impact of Brand Exposure Duration, was led by Broadband President and CEO Matt Wasserlauf. The panel included MSN Streaming Video Evangelist Todd Herman, Maven Networks CEO Hilmi Ozguc, Carat Interactive EVP Karim Sanajabi and RealNetworks Chief Strategy Officer Richard Wolpert.
Carat's Sanajabi began by saying media consumption in the 80s and 90s was about choice. That has now moved to one of control with consumers able to select only the media they want to consume. This, he claims, is a benefit for the growing segment of online video advertising. Sanajabi reviewed a Carat campaign for the launch of Adidas' "Impossible is Nothing" campaign which incorporated video ads on Yahoo and MSN. The campaign generated five million video-views and lifted brand awareness by six percent. A campaign promoting MTV's Sunday Stew cam in at an attractive CPM of $3.17 and generated a 50 percent lift in tune-in.
CNET's Wolpert discussed his companies expansion of Rhapsody into video and is exploring "pre-roll" ads to offer free music video downloads.
Maven's Ozguc tried to launch a full screen video, which bombed most likely due to hotel bandwidth limitations rather than technology issues. Yet, that is one sign that hints infrastructure isn't quite there to fully deliver this technology. Ozguc reviewed two campaign's which used Maven's technology. The first, for the movie "Master and Commander," offered high quality downloads of the movie trailer and behind the scenes footage. The effort generated a very high 26 percent click through to buy tickets. The second, for musician Ben Harper, centered on a "send to a friend" feature which offered the sender a free unreleased single to download. Harper's label, Virgin, saw their database of Harper fans triple.
MSN Video's Herman said Microsoft's efforts center on building a bridge between television advertisers and the web. MSN's efforts hope to allow consumers to control, condense and combine online video offerings. Herman pointed out online video advertising can offer fresh reach as many broadband users watch less TV and less clutter as broadcast television has over nine minutes per hour of advertising.
In all, this session was fairly content-rich, with many practical, real-world examples provided.
The session on Packaging Online Audiences was moderated by Interep Interactive SVP Tim Mahlman. The panel included Mass Transit Interactive CEO Jason Heller, Wall Street Journal Online Advertising VP Randy Kilgore, Tacoda Systems CEO Dave Morgan and Revenue Science SVP Peoduct Marketing Omar Tawakol.
While much of the session was bogged down by long-winded statements that could have been made in less than half the time, the panelists were in agreement that behavioral targeting and contextual targeting are not in competition. The two will work towards bettering the ability of advertisers to increase relevancy. The biggest change coming to the targeting category will be the formation of behavioral and contextual ad networks. Mass Transit's Heller said this move to networks will make it easier for advertisers and agencies to scale their behavioral and contextual efforts.
After a long day (Monday) in the exhibit hall, a short trip around the corner to 685 Market Street, brought weary conference attendees to the relaxed, outdoor atrium of Topica's offices. There, one could grab a beer or wine and nibble on scrumptious appetizers. A conversation with Topica Senior Director of Sales Walter Paliska centered on the more serious tone marketers are adopting following the irrational exhuberance of yester-years.
In a rare display of serious mathematics in advertising, Kowalick, Inc.' James Kowalick introduced the Taguchi method of ad testing. The Taguchi method was first invented in the 1950 by a brilliant Japanese electronics engineer who later used it to propel Japanese car manufacturers to the forefront of the automotive industry.
In it's simplest form, the Taguchi methods takes the grunt work and prolonged time out of testing using combinations and permutations of multiple variables in an ad campaign. For example, in an email campaign, the system can test thousands of variables such as subject line, text, price of offer, sender address and images. The method is automated through a software package that manages the pre-determined test variables and automatically determines the optimal combination of variables. The system has been proven to increase campaign success by hundreds to thousands of percent. This is certainly a bold claim but it has been proven many times and in this session, the success was demonstrated by a case study for a computer manufacturer who increase campaign response from 0.1 percent to 3.7 percent.
Currently, Kowalick is conducting an optimization case study for his own company which is using the Google AdWords program. Results are promised by summer.
While AD:TECH attendees stroll the exhibit hall and attend the sessions, there's another part of the Hotel that is teeming with activity and is likely where many of the deals are being made. The Hotel lobby. Just outside the lobby, Looksmart is smartly hosting a Starbucks coffee party where vistitors can get a $3.00 gift certificate for an afternoon boost. After the pick me up, attendees are swarming the lobby and adjacent hallways conversing about business, which parties they went to last night and which they plan to attend tonight.
One attendee commented that, from a strategic viewpoint, the lobby is one of the best places to actually find someone you are looking for by following the "stay in one place long enough and everyone will pass by" strategy.