Posted by: Cece Salomon-Lee | September 8, 2009

Summary of Ad:Tech Chicago


Note: Katherine Pudi is a Senior Production Design Associate with InXpo. She attended ad:tech Chicago  last week. In this guest post, Kathy shares her thoughts and key takeaways from the conference.

I attended ad:tech Chicago, the Digital Marketing event, at Navy Pier in Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. The conference’s objective was to connect all sides of the interactive marketing and advertising landscape.  This event was for marketing professionals from across the industry that face unprecedented challenges trying to keep up with evolving technology and doing more with less.

I arrived at the event on Tuesday afternoon and walked through the exhibit hall which showcased about 54 exhibitors. The exhibit hall floor was small and narrow. While there were many booth representatives and exhibitors, the exhibit hall lacked attendees which I attribute to presentations running from 9am- 6pm both Tuesday and Wednesday.

There were many sessions available from Performance Marketing to Media and Branding. I attended several presentations over the 2-day event. All of the presentations were full and in some cases, there was standing room only. Overall, the event proved that education is REALLY the most important part of an event and everything else is secondary.

I mainly attended sessions under the Performance Marketing track. Here are some of the notes I took during the presentations:

Presentation: Social CRM: Leveraging Social Media Platforms to Build Relationships and Drive Sales

Christopher Marriott, VP Global Managing Director, Acxiom Digital began this session with a couple nice

  • “Consumers trust each other more than they trust you”
  • “Marketing is a faucet with each customer as a spigot”

He also placed online users into 4 categories according to their activity with social media:

  • Wide Neters
  • Selectively Social
  • Social Placeholders
  • Getting Started

Stats on the users:

  • 30-50% – spam blockers
  • 20% – pop-up blockers
  • 58% – regularly delete tracking cookies

He ended his presentation with…“online conversations persist forever and are global…”

Michael Kahn, Senior VP Marketing, Performics presented next and had began his presentation with some facts from Comscore

Facebook is the 4th largest site in the world– 24 million unique visitors in the month of June 09’ alone.
Twitter had 44.5 unique visitors worldwide in June 09’.

Evolving Practices for Engaging Consumers through Social Media. Michael Kahn’s 12 tactics:

1. Listen to How Consumers Talk about their products. Social Listening informs.
2. Talk to Consumers, Face to Face
3. Brand yourself as expert – the Go to Resource. i.e.) – H&R Block – Facebook/Twitter –
4. Monitor and respond to customer service issues
5. Manage Reputation, React Quickly to Crisis
6. Create Massive Conversations about your brand. i.e.) – tshirt design contest – live contest day 275,000 visitors
7. Social Sites for SERP (Search Engines Results Page) Domination
8. Optimize Facebook Ads to perform just like search
9. Micro-target Facebook ads at specific users (by location, age, education, sex etc…)
10. Engage Consumers w/ Custom Apps – sweepstakes
11. Tweet Coupons & Deals to sell products i.e.) – Dell – coupon codes
12. Create more engaging display ads i.e.) Juicy Juice on Facebook

Joe Abella from Draft FCB who shared his story about the KFC Grilled Chicken launch

KFC teamed up with Oprah for a free meal giveaway, KFC offered America the chance to download and print a coupon for a free meal, including two pieces of their new Kentucky Grilled Chicken.

The site was hammered with so many requests that not everyone was able to claim their free coupon. When the lucky ones who were able to print their coupons attempted to redeem them at KFCs around the country they were turned away.

KFC used social media outlets to issue apologies and to re-issue new coupons. On YouTube – Roger Eaton the president of KFC posted an apology video (note: unable to find video – anyone have the link?). They also used Facebook and Twitter to listen to the consumers and try to remedy the situation.

The last presenter was Laurie Barkman VP of Online Marketing – The Art Institutes EDMC. She spoke about the challenges of rising media costs, competitive landscape and funnel conversion.

Presentation: Yahoo! Sponsored Workshop: Understanding the Drivers to Video Consumption – An Original Research Study

  • Video Usage is highest from 18 – 55 yrs. Old
  • Know your audience.
  • Short clips matter.

Video is not typically for B to B market. More for Brand to Women/Men.

  • Online Video Consumption: 8hrs. a month
  • TV (Passive) Linear: 8hrs. a day

Video relies on engagement and quality. Two types:

  • Be interruptive then get out of the way. (Larger Canvas – Memorable)
  • Less intrusive message doing something around video space. (i.e- bumpers, assoc. advertising – higher click rate)

Corporate Video Usage is primarily used for: Training, Employee Info.

  • Online Video Consumption – prime time online can be all day but mainly 12pm – 3pm
  • Know what people are searching for – implement video to target demographics. i.e) know what people are searching for at 10pm. (brand- cream cheese – place in recipe page)
  • When you have video, display ads increases your search. Optimization.
  • TV – Online (hard to transfer content in short time period)

Presentation: War of the Worlds Branding vs. Technology Panel

Edwin Wong, Director of Market Research from Yahoo! Inc.

  • Traditional > Brand Experience
  • Obsessive Measurement Syndrome: data every moment more about #’s than narrative.
  • Bright Shiny Object: (augmented reality), new technology – let’s do it attitude! Should think this through for long term value, but try to be cutting edge too.
  • Permissible Ignorance and Abuse of geek Power: push bright object instead of thinking of the brand.
  • Embrace new technologies > Connect to the Brand

Panelist: Murray had some interesting points:

  • Brands are a belief system
  • Technology is a tactic
  • “History does not crawl it jumps” (can’t remember who he was quoting)
  • Don’t chase digital and forget to focus on the economy and social change.
  • Quest for Knowledge.
  • Generate Discussion rather than joining it.
  • Anticipate Change

Other interesting quotes:

  • Every pixel on a page is a brand statement!
  • Agencies are brand guardians.

Presentation: Next Frontier in Advertising – Widgets, Apps and Viral Video

  • Twitter’s success is the ability to stay connected quickly.
  • Widgets: constrained area – distribute advertising
  • Apps: Facebook connect – separate experience – ability to make it your own. Full Page.
  • Reach > Social Apps. – i.e) Facebook Fan Page
  • Social Engagement – Very high
  • Visual Bookshelf – Living Social –
  • Pay attention to the people and not the property (facebook).
  • Question: Where do you fit in social media? i.e) Healthcare- runners had a marathon tied in with a charity and they used social media to market the event.


Based on Kathy’s notes, social media has become an accepted tool for driving a company’s brand and messages to a targeted audience. Based on the above, two points that resonated with me are understanding your audience and don’t do technology for technology’s sake.

Similarly, we advise customers to first consider their strategy, objectives and audience before jumping on the virtual event bandwagon. Like the early days of social media, virtual events are seen as more cost-effective and quicker than a “traditional, face-to-face” event. However, as we soon realized with social media, it takes effort and a concerted strategy to fully realize the benefits of virtual events.

Thanks Kathy for sharing your thoughts with everyone. If you attended ad:tech Chicago, please let us know what you thought or include a link to your summary in the comments below.

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