Attending conferences is the best way I know of to stay on the edge of what is happening in the world. Reading content on the Web and exchanging emails is vital but there is no substitute for attending a few conferences per year where you can talk to people at meals and breaks plus interact with sponsors and speakers. This was my first year to attend the CM Summit, a conference run by John Battelle. John has a long history in journalism and the media industry and is now founder, chairman, and CEO of Federated Media, an Internet advertising company which appears to be prospering. John brought together a good set of sponsors and 30 excellent speakers. It promises to be a chance to hear from the leaders of digital marketing for two days of thought provoking case studies, insights, and conversations with major brand advertisers, agencies, and digital media companies.
The conference started bright and early Monday morning at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in Manhattan. John kicked off the conference with an excellent overview of where he sees the future. The theme was “Marketing In Real Time” and the basis of the theme is, of course, the rise of mobile platforms. A “rise” may be an understatement when you consider that the iPhone has gone from zero to fifty million in three years, Android from zero to sixty thousand per day in two years, the iPad from zero to two million in sixty days, and the impending launch of thirty or more new tablets. Built on this base is the rise of local platforms. Yelp has seen 10X growth in three years. Foursquare from zero to two million in two years. Google has integrated local, maps, and business directories into “Places” and Facebook and Twittr have built location into their models.
On top of that base we see the emergence of real time platforms that constantly stream signals across the Internet. Twitter users are now generating 65 million tweets per day and Facebook 60 million status updates per day. Google just purchased Invite Media to create real time marketing of advertising slots. All this is enabled by the social platforms — Facebook has grown from 30 million to more than 400 million users in less than four years and Twitter from one million to 125 million in the same time-frame. All this means a lot of data that did not previously exist and it offers an enormous opportunity for the advertisers of the world to reach people in unprecedented ways. John Battelle calls talks about “The Database of Intentions”. It falls into five categories.
The purchase – What I Buy (Amazon, eBay, Walmart)
The Query – What I Want (Google, Yahoo, Bing)
The Social Graph – Who I Am, Who I know (Facebook, myspace, Google)
The Status Update – What I’m Doing (twitter, facebook, Google)
The Check-in – Where I am (foursquare, yelp, Gowalla)
Along with the rise in all of the above, there is obviously a huge rise in real time issues. John touched on a few of them.
Privacy vs publicy — Who owns all this data?
Open vs closed — Who gets to play and on what terms”
Publishers vs. Marketers vs. Platforms — can they all get along?
Will regulators sleep through all this?
One thing is for sure. The transformation of the media industry is happening rapidly. I would say we are about 5% of the way into it but there is no heading back. There are going to be winners and losers. The CM Summit was full of energy. The stakes are high. Traditional media companies are guarding their flanks. Traditional advertisers are looking for ways to capitalize on the new technologies. The technology companies are investing to gain market share. The advertising companies are experimenting with new ways to please their clients. Consumers seem to be enjoying the attention. Everybody is tweeting. Some are not sure why. Stay tuned for Part 2.