The nextMEDIA: Monetizing Digital Media conference has come and gone, and it was a great experience from start to finish. We are really happy to have been a part of this event and are already looking forward to the next iteration currently scheduled for June 2008 in Banff, Alberta. Here is a brief snapshot of some of the ‘greatest hits’ from my perspective:
William Travis from the boutique creative firm ATTIK gave a case study presentation on their noteworthy Toyota Scion branding campaign and the impetus behind the creation of their ‘little deviant‘ marketing concept they crafted around the Scion brand. He really focused on understanding your consumer/audience and the nuts and bolts of putting together an immersive experience for the target demo. This agency really put themselves in the mindset of their target demographic, developed an intimate understanding of what motivates them and created a virtual world where their target consumers could truly ‘live the brand’. William was a passionate communicator and had the conference audience thoroughly engaged from start to finish.
Bryan Segal from Comscore Media Metrix did a fabulous presentation on the depth and breadth of the Canadian online advertising market. He did a great job giving an overview of the market data and current trends and communicated it all in a clear and concise fashion. Bottom line: the Canadian online ad market is growing at a rapid clip as advertisers are shifting their money and attention online as their audience is clearly moving in that direction, in addition to the added benefits of increased accountability and measurements that online advertising campaigns have over traditional forms of media.
David Carson from Heavy.com gave a terrific presentation on the value of branded entertainment as an alternative to the standard ‘ad ghetto’ formats of leaderboard and skyscraper banner advertising. Heavy.com is one of the long-standing pioneers of branded entertainment on the web, and David really put together a well-rounded and enjoyable presentation that highlighted stellar examples of this niche form of advertising put into practice. David also touched on the increasing role that consumers themselves can play in the branded entertainment arena. Perhaps the best example of a user-driven unsolicited ad campaign was the Diet Coke/Mentos viral videos done by the Eepy Bird guys.
Lloyd Alter from the environment-focused TreeHugger.com gave one of the conferences best presentations. He talked about the origins (btw: founder was born Canadian) of the TreeHugger.com site and how the company grew their idea from concept to their recent acquisition by the Discovery Channel. Lloyd is one of those special communicators who speaks from a deep reservoir of passion for his subject, and his willingness to discuss not just the things that went right, but also the things that went wrong or were ongoing challenges for TreeHugger was really refreshing. I wanted to give him a hugg after his presentation. Outstanding.
Will Pate from Conceptshare, spoke incredibly well about the do’s and don’ts of online promotion/marketing techniques. Will covered a wide range of tips/warnings on both sides of the ethical fence and I think anyone in the audience (ie, just about everyone in attendance) who wanted to learn more about promoting/marketing themselves, their companies and their content or brands got good value from Will’s presentation. Will has great charisma, and emanates guineness. It’s no wonder he’s a sought-after community ambassador.
Dick Soule, Head of International Sales for YouTube talked about YouTube’s recent move toward internationalization and specifically their move into Canada. Dick’s a great guy and YouTube’s move into Canada is a really big boost and affirmation for the Canadian online video space.
Pierre Karl Peladeau from Quebecor announced the launch of Canoe.ca’s foray into the online video space. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this presentation was PKP’s heavy criticism of the subsidies handed out to the Canadian Television Fund and openly questioned the value of this practice going forward by saying programming created via CTF funding produces shows that “in general, nobody watches”. PKP is committed to doubling Canoe’s investment in Canadian content creation by working with independent producers of video content. Pierre clearly has a strong vision for Canoe and it will be interesting to see how they are able to execute. Perhaps Canoe’s biggest challenges are not so much in their ideas or execution, but rest squarely on a major balance sheet issue. Canoe/Quebecor is currently saddled with $2.4 billion of debt and cash-flow is declining not increasing. Canoe/Quebecor is by no means alone in facing this big-media equation, but when you listen to his ambitious plans and his committment to double investment in a given area, one has to wonder where will the money be coming from to fund it all?
Last but most definitely not least was a panel discussion headed by Canada’s best mainstream voice on everything web, Globe and Mail’s Mathew Ingram. Mathew was joined by a fantastic panel that included CEO of NowPublic.com – Leonard Brody, VP of NBC Digital – Mark Lukasiewicz, and CBC‘s director of digital programming – Jonathan Dube. This was one of those panels where you just sit back and enjoy listening to a lively and intelligent discussion on topics like citizen journalism and the every-changing role, influence and consumption of news media. Everyone involved in this discussion brought a unique perspective on the topics covered and all had something intriguing to say. This was a great panel to finish off this conference.Like most conferences, there were highlights (networking opps, impromptu hallway debates and friendly chats ie, it was great chatting with Jeremy Wright of B5 Media/the aforementioned Will Pate/David Peralty of Splashpress) and lowlights (ie, spotty internet access throughout and frozen toes as a result of a heating issue on the first day), and several stand-out singular moments where the value of ‘being there’ was worth whatever resources it took to attend.
As a growing Canadian new media network, this conference is a must-do for us and we got tremendous value out of the entire two-day event and a follow-up trip back to Toronto is already in the works as a direct result of the networking connections made at this conference. A special thank you to all of the good folk at Achilles Media and Julie Giles from GreenHAT Digital for putting together an awesome 2-day event. nextMEDIA Banff 2008 can’t come fast enough!!
cross-posted from dailypixel.ca