What’s Your Superhero Power?

MOTM logLast night I had the pleasure of dining with 18 fascinating technologists and entrepreneurs, reminding me again of the depth and diversity of the talent pool in Los Angeles and the emergence of our region as a technology center for the world. We were gathered for a “vision-casting” session for MOTM (Meeting of the Minds), a salon made popular over the past two years by its unique format and the ability of its thoughtful founders, Kurt Daradics and Baron Miller, to lead intimate discussions of well-curated groups of individuals gathered around important industry issues of the day.

The hallmarks of MOTM networking events are their spontaneity, unscripted introductions by the hosts of each of the 40 or so invited guests and a speakers whose role is equal parts teacher and moderator — all buttressed by networking made richer by the contextual relevance of the participants.

Last night was different. Gathered around a large dinner table, our commonality was not around an industry sector, but rather our desire to help the founders chart a course for the group in light of two key developments: 1) MOTM is expanding beyond Westlake Village to include events  in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange County; and 2) MOTM is partnering with Ben Kuo’s socalTECH.com, bringing a live events component to the venture-focused newsletter and introducing the local financial community to MOTM’s mostly technology and entrepreneurial set.

As often is the case at MOTM, I was impressed by each of the guests in their own right — CIOs, gamers, musicians, programmers, content developers, bloggers, an executive coach, a television personality — and the potential not just of those assembled, but what’s possible if the power of all MOTM’s participants were to be harnessed, either for commerce or for good.

About halfway through introductions, and as an offshoot of a Marvel/Disney discussion, Kurt began asking each person to state their “Superhero power,” obviously intending to call attention to something special about each of his guests. While some were more comfortable joking about fictional powers like X-ray vision and the ability to breathe under water, more thoughtful answers included “guitar shredder” and “social chameleon.”  

Although not called upon to answer this question, my faux answer would have been the transformative Wonder Twins powers my sister and have enjoyed joking about since childhood. My more serious answer would have been “master networker,” for the enjoyment I receive from meeting new people and my desire to connect those who haven’t met yet in order to help each other advance their own agendas.

So, what’s your Superhero Power?

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Boucher’s Plans for Privacy Legislation

last6_iconRep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) has preliminarily outlined legislation he will  introduce to regulate consumer privacy in a thoughtful editorial in The Hill entitled “Behavioral ads: The need for privacy protection.” In a separate interview related to net neutrality, he stated that he hoped the bi-partisan legislation would be introduced before Congress adjourns on October 30.

In the article, Boucher clearly articulates the issues related to how behavioral advertising impacts consumer privacy and he makes a reasonable argument for ways to give consumers assurances  about what data is being collected about them without disrupting the online advertising and e-commerce ecosystem. Particularly encouraging is his recognition of the fact that behavioral targeting tailors ads to consumers’ interests and helps keep Internet content free.  

From the article it sounds like Boucher “gets it,” but there were plenty of details left unstated and the lobbying efforts of industry associations and companies with a stake in the outcome will no-doubt continue up until the deadline. It will be interesting to read the finer points of the legislation and it looks like a bill may now be just weeks away.

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Think.

Think smallFew things possess more Power than a Thought.
Because a Thought has the potential
to become something significant.
To solve something meaningful.
And to inspire us to achieve great things.

What makes a Thought so powerful is that it can be created by anybody.
At anytime.
From anywhere.

That’s why thinking should be encouraged
and nurtured in all its forms.
No matter how small.
Or how impossibly grand. 

Because wherever Thinking happens,
Big Ideas follow.
Minds become enlightened.
Knowledge grows.
And people discover new ways to unlock their Potential.

So start Thinking

View this inspiring spot for Qatar Foundation.

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Digital Family Summit Recap

dfsummit_banner_125x125Returning to LA to co-host the Digital Family Summit ended an abbreviated Advertising Week on a high note. It was an honor to interview Gerry Philpott of E-Poll and Karen North from USC, who graciously helped us implement the first-ever Managing Online Communities Survey. It was also fun meeting our speakers Mike Jones and Peter Hirschberg, and getting to introduce Jason Calacanis who interviewed them during a live broadcast of his show “This Week In Startups.” 

The best part of the evening was seeing old friends, including Brian McCarthy, Craig Moody, Liz Heller, Jim Jonassen, Joey Tamer, Darren Chuckry, Tony Greenberg, Mark Jeffrey, Tracy Bagatelle, Olivier Chaine and the list goes on. I was also pleased with the high caliber of attendees — at one point I found myself having just had six conversations in a row with CEOs.  

Here are some photos, blog posts and tweets if you’re interested in seeing what others are saying about the event. Also, please visit our sponsors, without whom great events like this would not be possible. Thanks too to all who attended and helped us promote the event.

When the crowed of 250 or so thinned out around 11 p.m., I enjoyed a yummy sushi roll and fried rice from Wokano, along with the company of my old friend DJ Loomer whose musical influence added just the right ambience and downbeat funky tempo to our affair.

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Advertising Week 2009 – Day Two

advertising week logoHeard around Advertising Week: “You still call it behavioral targeting?” “Thank god congress is preoccupied with healthcare.” “Don’t order business cards, we’re going green.” “Part of the charm of Advertising Week is that events are NOT all in one place.”

 OMMA Keynote – The State of the Agency Business – An Analyst’s View

Jordan Rohan, Founder and Managing Partner, Clearmeadow Partners

It was refreshing to hear Jordan Rohan focused on anything other than lead generation, and his analysis of the agency business seemed on point. He says a confluence of events has created the current state of declining agency profitability. A complex media environment, characterized by “social distraction” and “mobile distraction,” will only help to accelerate this trend because it increases the complexity as people multi-task on top of multiple media usage. In today’s environment, agencies need to act less like a steward of the brand and more like an intermediary to all brands.

Case in point, social media usage is on the rise, but pricing is low:

Facebook $.60 CPM

MySpace $1.36 CPM

…and portal traffic is flat and prices are falling:

Yahoo! $8.44. CPM

Microsoft $9.68 CPM

AOL $13.58 CPM

Innovation in agencies – Risks taken, when successful are considered innovation, yet the economic incentives are not in place for agencies to take risks. Cited RGA work for Nokia and CPB work for Microsoft, Burger King as examples of risks taken and work done across platform that is working well.

Venture capitalists are reluctant to invest in people businesses where assets walk out the door every day. When a people business turns into something that can exist on its own, suddenly the money appears.

OMMA Keynote – How Dunkin Does Social

Frances Allen, Brand Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.

“Winning every trip, every day.” Not taking customers for granted.

Social values must reflect brand values. Fostering a relationship with passionate customers, a group defined as much by a sense of common brand values as a love of the products. Relationships take time, effort and commitment. Brands that make investment in relationship over time will win. There will be hard days, yes, but in the end it will be worth it.

Social strategy:

1) Hearts & minds – Facebook “Fan of the Week” and “Coolata”

2) Motivations and behaviors – “Dunkin’ Run” application to order for groups

3) Place and context – Create Dunkin’s Next Donut – (TV, radio, outdoor, online and in-store)

4) Communication

Set realistic expectations.

Perception becomes reality.

Be true to yourself.

OMMA Keynote – Nick Brien, President & CEO, Mediabrands

A marketing revolution: a new art, a new science

We’ve always lived in a social world, but now we have more control, the ability to customize, the ability to create new channels and to connect.

62.5% of people using the Internet globally say they are actively involved in social media.

Social means business transformation:

Social media / awareness

Social marketing / advocacy (sell something, utility)

Social business / reinvention

Agencies continuing to conduct business under reach/frequency models do a disservice to the medium:

1) Kill the hierarchy

2) Engage community power

3) Master the art of response

4) Create content

5) Embrace ingenuity

MIXX Keynote – The End of “Digital” Marketing?

Nikesh Arora, President Global Sales Operations and Business Development, Google

Before it was called a “car,” it was the “horseless carriage.” Before it was just a “teevision,” it was the “color television.” Similarly, during our careers we will just call it “marketing.” Sometimes you don’t realize you are going through a revolution until you step out of it.

1.7B Internet users, 2B mobile users worldwide.

In any new technology, advertising comes later in the cycle:

Technology –> Content –> Users –> Advertising

We’re still in the early part of the cycle in advertising and marketing.

Mattel Barbie television ad in 1959 – 10 years after – cut and paste from radio jingles vs. Audi ad dramatically showing car driving up ski ramp created exclusively for television

1981 – story for newspapers delivered electronically vs. TwitPic of USAirways plane in Hudson

Everything is localized down to you – Android video app combining camera phone to data

New generations of information created by you

Marketing is the new finance, with a sample size of {all}

All advertising is engaging – bidirectional media

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