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Media Conference Recap: Wednesday, March 5, 2008 

Hi from sunny Orlando, where it's a balmy 76 degrees. The Rosen Shingle Creek (a mystical retreat named for the cypress shingles that sheltered the creek's original settlers) welcomed the approximately 1500 attendees to the 2008 Media Conference & Tradeshow.

Sticking to the theme, "Digital Changes Everything," today's "Success Stories with Digital Media" discussed the importance of integrating a digital element into the marketing campaign.

In-Game advertising is forecasted to grow from $1 billion to $3 billion by 2010. Gamers are a hard-to-reach target, typically women and slightly older. Ad placement can be either static or dynamic, but must be organic to the gaming experience to be effective. The product must be part of the game, or show the product being used by the characters. Since gaming lifestyles extend beyond the games, it is important to integrate the product placement into the total media plan and brand experience.

Paid Search
In the past, "Paid Search" was considered an "or" buy. Now its importance has grown to be an "and" part of the media strategy. Amanda Rickman, of MediaVest, discussed how Wal-Mart created a synergy across all media, bringing their product message from TV brand advertising all the way to their web site with "Navigation Paid Search." This strategy brought the consumer from the "top of the funnel, all the way to conversion product sales." Wal-Mart’s TV campaign created an emotional connection with the brand, while paid search drove the consumer to their web site, which in turn created sales.

"Activation Paid Search" was used successfully by Tide. In this case, a Tide SuperBowl ad encouraged normally passive TV viewers to visit the Internet to view Tide YouTube and MySpace videos. This technique brought more than 20 million people to view the Tide ads even ten days after the SuperBowl.

Buying the right key search words can also "translate" into an effective branding strategy. The Heroes TV show used paid search terms effectively during a TV viewing hiatus to keep awareness up. By using key words, word of mouth advertising, bloggers, and fan sites, Heroes was able to keep awareness up during the hiatus, increase web search by 114%, and increase online web site visits by 400%.

Mobile advertising (aka "Third Screen") is the use of wireless media (cell phones) as an integrated content delivery and direct response vehicle. About 23% of all U.S. mobile subscribers have received an ad on their cell phones. While 40% of website operators have launched mobile sites, 22% more plan to enter the field by next year. Ad revenue is expected to be approximately $825 million by 2012. Mobile as an advertising medium is best used to extend an offline campaign and works well to drive traffic to local news, sports, weather, and travel websites.

Project Re-Invention
Harold Geller, who is spearheading the effort to reorganize the complicated process of media planning and buying, moderated an excellent session entitled, "Project Re-Invention," where he challenged the advertising community to reinvent its business practices. He stated that it is important to "find commonalities in business systems in order to realize greater efficiencies." Irwin Gotlieb, of Group M, said "it's more about our industry's long term survival...It's not about technology; it's more about the business practices...When business practices are right, then technology applications will fall into place."

Several of the key issues discussed were planning, creating a standard insertion order form, electronic invoicing, establishing "terms and conditions" once and for all with major publishers, a lack of comparisons across media types, duplicate and triplicate data entry, and the need for a single, third-party reporting across all digital platforms.

Stephen Poulin, of MediaVest, said "true end-to-end automation of media transactions does not exist in the U.S. media marketplace today." In addition, there is a disproportionate amount of labor and overhead spent on non-value manual labor, like data entry. This overhead cost could exceed 20% or more.

Automation of these processes will definitely help the bottom line. "Technology is not the solution; technology is only the execution of the solution." And "universal data and workflow standards are the solutions."

A strict timeline was established and a new "Definitions and Standards Committee" created. This committee will define the new rules and orders, create a plan when these items will get implemented, establish electronic invoicing with client product estimates mandatory, and create a centralized place to store general info. Should be an interesting and exciting year…

Until tomorrow…

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