As ad:tech Chicago wound down, exhibitors disassembled booths faster than a prima dona diva account director whisks in and out of a status meeting. While there were 2,500 attendees at this year's Chicago event, up from 2,000 in 2004, the exhibit hall never seemed crowded. Perhaps, we have dmg world media conference planners to thank for perfect crowd flow control.
In the end, the hotel bars, hallways and lobby were full of people making deals, swapping contact info and planning their next product or campaign launch. Chicago might be over but before we know it, we'll be in New York in November for the next ad:tech extravaganza.
While we're sure this has been done before though we're not sure how effective it was since a friend had to point it out to us, Datran Media sponsored the hotel room key cards at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago during the ad:tech online marketing conference. Every attendee who was staying in the hotel was given a Datran-branded version of the hotel's room key card.
Whether it was the Pampered Chef conference attendees cackling like hens in the elevator or simply the innocuous nature of a hotel room key, our attention was not drawn to the card. Perhaps it was the design. Perhaps it was our weary, conference-addled brain. We just didn't notice the card. What we did notice, disturbingly, was our car keys missing from our briefcase upon arrival at Logan Airport in Boston and the hundred dollar cab ride we had to take home while knowing those Massport folks would be collecting $29 for each day we had to wait for our keys to be FedEx'd back to us from Chicago. Who said conferences where uneventful?
Yesterday, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) held their first Metrics conference, called "Measuring Word of Mouth," at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago. The conference, which sold out in 20 days mostly due to word of mouth and followed the organization's founding conference several month ago, focused on the the measurement aspects of word of mouth marketing including the introduction of metrics terminology.
The genesis of the conference was the organizations acknowledgment that everyone in the industry was talking about word of mouth but had no common terminology. The groups three goals for the conference were to develop a common language of word of mouth related terms and definitions, figure out how to measure and track word of mouth and learn how to integrate word of mouth with other forms of marketing media. In developing these goals, WOMMA CEO Andy Sernovitz the measurement framework must "avoid pre-existing marketing terms, avoid bias towards online media and avoid bias towards active word of mouth campaigns versus organic, day-to-day word of mouth."
This afternoon, a tipster told us the the New York office of Minneapolis-based Fallon Worldwide would be closing and the New York Time wasn't far behind reporting the news. The two principals of the agency, Anne Bologna and Ari Merkin are leaving to open their own shop and the 25 employees left behind are being offered jobs at the Minneapolis office and New York Publicis agencies. Two month ago, Fallon Chairman Pat Fallon was told by Bologna and Merkin they'd be going out on their own. Client transition plans are being discussed for the client roster that includes Brawny, SoBe, MPA, Starbucks, Time Magazine and Virgin Mobile. If any clients stay, a small New York office may remain open.
Word of Mouth Marketing firm, BzzAgent Inc., has announce the launch of the "Hispanic BzzChannel," a new destination within BzzAgent dedicated to the US-based Hispanic Community. This channel will provide members with the opportunity to generate buzz about specially-selected products and services while providing marketers the ability to build brand evangelism within the Hispanic community. This site will be bilingual, with all content available in both English and Spanish. It can be viewed at http://hispanic.bzzagent.com.
Word of Mouth Marketing Association CEO Andy Sernovitz opened the session, "Word of Mouth Marketing: Create a WOM campaign in five easy steps," by suggesting five steps needed to make a word of mouth campaign successful:
- Find the right people
- Give them something to talk about
- Create tools to make it easy to talk about
- Participate in the conversation
- Track and measure
Sernovitz also clarified that word of mouth marketing can involve other advertising tactics (other than true word of mouth) such as buzz marketing, viral marketing, product placement, grassroots marketing, referrla programs and brand blogging.
Led by Jupiter Media's Gary Stein, the ad:tech Chicago 2005 panel entitled "Blogevertising, RSS and Podcasting Opportunities for Marketers," provided session attendees with an overview of how blogs can be used as an advertising medium. Weblogs Inc. President Shawn Gold began with a bit of blogging 101 explaining that blogs are an empowering and efficient means through which marketers cab deliver advertising. Along with blog publishers, blog advertisers benefit from weblog's propensity to climb high in search results for topics covered on a given blog thereby helping to insure increased, targeted eyeballs for blog advertisers.
Led by Intelliseek CMO Pete Blackshaw, the Chicago ad:tech panel, held Tuesday, called "What Blogs Are Teaching Us About The New Rules of Marketing," provided the audience with a broad over view of the issues companies need to consider when debating the launch of a corporate weblog or marketing-related weblog. The recurring theme throughout the session centered on the need to stay true to the brand and to live within the company guidelines both legal and otherwise.
The Chicago ad:tech party scene Monday night was much more subdued than San Francisco and New York shows. The evening kicked off with the traditional Tribal Fusion post-exhibit cocktail and munchies party held at the back of the the Sheraton exhibit hall. Great tasting Tribal Fusion branded beer was served along with fried finger food. We spent some time speaking with United Virtualities' Director of Channel Partnerships Natalia Scalia who made the trip to ad:tech from Argentina and Miami-based Nearly Natural Business Development Manager Stephen Wechsler who, apparently, has had to make it habit, when handing out his business card, to clarify his company deals with flowers, not breast implants. After discussions regarding ooqa ooqa, shoshkeles and silk flowers, we headed upstairs to the ad:tech speakers reception held in one of the hotel's bars.
At the speakers reception, we spent some time chatting with ad:tech Chair Susan Bratton, BlogAds Founder Henry Copeland, ad:tech Director of Marketing and Conferences Cindi Gallucci, DoubleClick Director of Research Rick Bruner and TechVenue.com Founder David Flint. The company was great, the river view pleasing and the libations relaxing.
After the speaker party, we headed to dinner with comScore Marketing Solutions Manager Graham Mudd and Rick Bruner. The name of the restaurant escapes the mind right now but the food was excellent. (It was Shaw's Restaurant) We discussed some weblog related research the two are working on which will be released in the hear future.
Finishing dinner, our group walked around the corner to the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association party held at the Rock Bottom Brewery which turned out the be the night's biggest party. We ran into United Virtualities' Scalia again who seemed to have attracted the attention of a guy dressed Hawaiian style. We left that one alone. Held on the rooftop, it was crowded, hot and humid but amusing enough to stick around for a bit if only to observe the length grown men and women will go to gain entry into what they, apparently, perceived to be the hippest spot in town.
Slithering out from between sweaty bodies, we cabbed it over to Chicago's First Lady, a river boat docked at Michigan and Wacker for the Tribal Fusion party. Sadly, there weren't too many people there so our stay was brief. Compared to the New York and San Francisco Bluelithium blowouts, Monday night's events were, for sure, quite subdued in comparison.
UPDATE: According Sean in comments, we didn't stay long enough at the Tribal Fusion party to experience the unplanned, two hour cruise the boat took late at night.
In a move that ackowledges the shift in news consumption from TV to the web, CBS News has announced plans for the launch of a 24-hour, broadband news network which will become the centerpiece of the network's news delivery platform. The new CBSNews.com site will include broadband video, a weblog, called "Public Eye," written by Vaughn Ververs and on-air reporters will produce online segments throughout the day.