Advertising Week 2009 – Day One

advertising week logoAdvertising Week is underway in New York  and as vibrant as ever, with more events to attend and more people to meet than could be accomplished in the span of an entire career, let alone a single week. Highlights from day one included editorial coverage of Moms Media announcement and lots of interest from both publishers and advertisers. Based on initial feedback, it seems like pretty good timing to launch a vertical ad network aimed at reaching moms online.

Great ValueClick Media workshop panel on “How Leading Advertisers Use Ad Networks to Achieve Brand Marketing Objectives.” A BIG THANK YOU to Doug Chavez of Del Monte Foods, Erin Hunter of comScore, Steve Ustaris of Studiocom and Chris Arens of Catalyst:SF.

It was great seeing everyone on ValueClick Media’s NY team — what an impressive group of veteran online advertising professionals. Thanks also to IAB MIXX and OMMA Global conferences for all of your hard work in hosting two first class intustry events…if only you would do it together again!

Morning keynote #1

Along with the theme of “Fueling Advertising’s Creative Revolution,” Adobe SVP Global Marketing Ann Lewnes posed a challenge for all stakeholders in the online advertising ecosystem:

Media – Create experiences that leverage the medium and crack the nut on monetization.

Agency – Evangelize the medium and proactively push the boundaries of what is possible.

Clients – Be open to exploring more options and encourage your companies to overcome resistance

Flash Platform Services – Gigya partnership and tracking widgets — “thinking outside the rectangle.”

Augmented Reality – offline/online integration – cool demo of a direct mail piece, which when held in front of a webcam creates a 3D online experience. Holds interesting possibilities for making offline content more creative online.

Vision for Omniture integration and the ability to track creative executions through to monetization – sounds like a bright future for Flash cookies to me.

Adaptive Layout Technologies – Times Reader 2.0 flash player demo – adapts content to any size screen, ads also adapt automatically to content. Tools for developers create desktop apps using Flash/HTML

Keynote #2

Microsoft – Yusuf Mehdi, SVP Online Services spoke of “Misses, homeruns and game changers” and Microsoft’s view of the future.

I’m not sure if it’s an internal product mantra or something Mr. Mehdi devised for today’s session, but was inspired by these sound principles, which referenced as he presented Project Natal and Bing:

1) Be Authentic – Million Dollar Home Page

2) Be opportunistic and responsive – Ashton Kutcher

3) Relentless measurement and optimization – Zappos.com

4) Be social – Starbucks

5) Ads are content – Burger King “Freak Out”

The Bing demo was useful/relevant and served as a reminder that despite the bazillions spent on making me aware of the brand I have yet to type it into a browser (note to self: check out Bing!).

Bing is trying to deliver unmet needs in search and provide more intuitive results considering:

Imprecise Results – 25% of clicks lead to ‘back’

Refinement – 42% of sessions need refinement

Lengthy tasks – 50% of time spent on long queries

Demo included cool visual search demo with examples including female senators, U.S. government line of succession, handbags and cameras. Also impressive, though not elaborated on were some impressive reporting features for advertisers based on H/M/L usage.

Project Natal – Next generation of computing and how humans interact with computers. Xbox human controller will be first. Think Wii but without a controller. This much I could get my head around, until he introduced the “Dag” (aka Digital Assitant Guide) a creepy Max Hedroom-like video avatar who was all too happy to pull up meeting notes or dial up a video conference, but was unbelievable that he would add much value to my computing experience. Don’t get me wrong. Overall, it was the most impressive, innovative, well-executed and entertaining demo I’ve seen in a long time — just slightly ahead of its time.

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Behavioral Advertising Privacy Legislation Update

big brother2009 has been an active year for self-regulation efforts on the part of the online advertising industry, led in large part by signals from the FTC that it may act to regulate behavioral advertising to protect consumer privacy. Associated Press coverage of the debate last week is a clue things are heating up, and this week the FTC announced it will host a hearing on the topic on December 7. Battle lines are being drawn between consumer privacy advocates on one hand and industry trade organizations on the other who are mobilizing to assemble self-regulatory guidelines to head off legislation.

It’s a foregone conclusion that Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) are drafting an online privacy bill that would govern the collection and use of consumer online behavior. While the debate may go from sub-committee to the full Energy and Commerce committee this fall, it is looking less likely that legislation will be heard by full House of Representatives in 2009.

What’s at issue primarily is the collection and use of behavioral data, the control consumers have over their own data and the likely harm, or lack therof, that could come from the data depending upon your position in the online advertising ecosystem.

Here is a roundup of publicly available information regarding where the FTC, key trade groups and Congress stand on the issues as of today.

December 16, 2008

Network Advertising Initiative Announces 2008 NAI Self-Regulatory Code of Conduct for Online Behavioral Advertising http://networkadvertising.org/networks/2008_NAI_Principles_PR_FINAL.pdf

February 12, 2009

FTC Staff Revises Online Behavioral Advertising Principles
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/02/behavad.shtm

June 18, 2009

U.S. House of Representatives – Committee on Energy and Commerce – Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection – Hearing on Behavioral Advertising: Industry Practices and Consumers’ Expectations
http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1678:energy-and-commerce-subcommittee-hearing-on-behavioral-advertising-industry-practices-and-consumers-expectations&catid=129:subcommittee-on-commerce-trade-and-consumer-protection&Itemid=70

July 2, 2009

Key Trade Groups Release Comprehensive Privacy Principles for Use and Collection of Behavioral Data in Online Advertising http://www.iab.net/about_the_iab/recent_press_releases/press_release_archive/press_release/pr-070209
http://www.iab.net/media/file/ven-principles-07-01-09.pdf

September, 2009 

Privacy groups release “Online Behavioral Tracking and Targeting, Legislative Primer” http://www.uspirg.org/uploads/s6/9h/s69h7ytWnmbOJE-V2uGd4w/Online-Privacy—Legislative-Primer.pdf

Here are a few recent articles related to online behavioral advertising you may find of interest:

Four Privacy Protections the Online Ad Industry Left Out
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/06/four-privacy-protections-the-ad-industry-left-out/?ref=technology

FTC Hires Privacy Blogger
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=111800#comments

Fresh Views at Agency Overseeing Online Ads
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/business/media/05ftc.html

The FTC Takes On Targeted Web Ads
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2009/tc2009082_486167.htm

Privacy Groups Aim for FTC to Help Guide Online Privacy Law

http://www.clickz.com/3634859

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Digital Family Summit – 9/23/09

dfsummit_banner_125x125After introducing my new pal Kurt Daradics to my old friend Brad Nye one evening last summer, our after-dinner conversation led to an idea to host the first Digital Family Reunion, something that would not have been as relevant just a few years ago. What kind of opportunities could we stimulate by introducing the web1.0 community Brad and I were a part of, having hosted VIC parties in LA throughout the late 1990s, to LA’s new generation of digirati whose post-dot-com-era networking groups include the likes of Mixergy, Twiistup and DigitalLA? 

Held on December 11, 2008, the Reunion struck a chord with the digital media community in LA, attracting 800 energized professionals to the Skirball Cultural Center for a special evening of education, networking and entertainment.

Since then, we’ve had many conversations about how to harness the positive energy created that night. Beyond just networking parties for technology, media and entertainment professionals, what type of organization could the Digital Family become that would provide value far beyond anything else out there today? I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of that debate. In the meantime, we’ve planned an educational event to rally the community around a topic of common interest and importance later this month.

Digital Family Summit ’09 will be held Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at the Wokano Restaurant in Santa Monica. With a theme of “Managing Online Communities,” the program will feature a live broadcast of This Week In Startups, during which Jason Calacanis will interview MySpace COO Mike Jones and Peter Hirshberg, CEO of The Conversation Group. Use the code DFR30 when registering and save $20

In tandem with the theme of the event, we’ve partnered with E-Poll Market Research and the Charles Annenberg Weingarten Program on Online Communities at USC to launch a research study to uncover best practices for managing online communities. If you an online community builder please take our survey. If not, please forward it to somone who is!

I hope to see everyone on Sept. 23rd!

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My Private Burning Man

bm09While it wasn’t to be for me to attend Burning Man this year (thanks Christian for creating that possibility and keeping the dream alive!), I did get to experience, in a very small and personal way, what the event stands for this long Labor Day weekend. Not familiar with Burning Man? Or perhaps, like some I know, you hold a negative perception of it being some hedonistic subculture with little purpose beyond an excuse to party? No worries…maybe it’s just not for you!  I’m not here to defend the festival, which is now in its 23rd year attracted around 50,000 participants. I’ll leave that to more hard core “burners.”

But what you should know, is that underlying all of the fine people, art and music that comprise the festival, there is at the end of the weeklong event a ritual of burning “the man.” I suppose the burn, and the entire event for that matter, is symbolic of whatever you want it to be. But certainly one dominant theme associated with fire and burning is renewal and the idea of shedding, both literally and figuratively, those things you are ready to leave behind.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks I’ve been cleaning my garage, part of which has included finally going through the last remnants of a company I once owned, called iAgency. Known non-affectionately around my house as “the iAgency boxes,” they contained a few hundred three ring binders that were the results of our work for clients and literally  represented the “early days” of online marketing and public relations. They were the physical representation of years of hard work and dedication by a team of young professionals in the mid-nineties too many to name, but to whom I remain endlessly grateful.

While I could not part with a few of the books for some of my favorite campaigns, like our early PR efforts for Zappos.com, creative online community programs for Symantec,  my favorite film and television projects for Fox, Paramount, NBC and Imagine Television, the extensive online marketing and PR work we did to launch Warner Bros. Online or the binder for our first clients, Hollywood Online and The Palace — I did undertake a purge that for me was of Burning Man proportions. As I let go of these heavy books representative of a past life, in my heart there was a bitter-sweet feeling of finally moving on combined with pride for all we accomplished from 1995 to 2002 and knowing that all of that experience was invaluable and led me to where I am today.

The whole Burning Man thought came as I carted off my last load of notebooks to a neighbor’s dumpster late Sunday night. As the squeaking of my antique dolly filled the quiet street, I found myself wondering what other people ready to move on and clean house may have carted out to the Playa to burn this year — or even what percentage of the people who attend even think of the event in such terms. 

While I would have of course enjoyed being there for the second time in eight years, I was equally delighted to have in a small way privately shared the experience, knowing that you don’t have to be on the Playa to have Burning Man in your heart.

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Stars on the Ground

DSCN3005I did get a chance to view the Perseids from atop Mulholland Drive, but the five or so shooting stars were ultimately not worth the loss of sleep. What did make the evening entirely worthwhile was quality time over dinner at Chin Chin with my good friend Amy Seidman, spontaneously seeing our mutual friend DJ Loomer perform at the House of Blues and meeting his Bass Ritual partner DJ Saadhu. Reminding me once again that the most impressive stars of all are the ones right here on the ground whom I’m fortunate to call my friends.

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