360i Digital Media Summit Recap

So last Thursday I made the trek from Atlanta to New York to attend the 360i Digital Media Summit held at the Westin Times Square. A (very) good time was had by all, but then, I’ve already recapped parts of the party.

On to the main course:

The Good:

  1. Transparent speakers
  2. Many had blogs or Twitter accounts and were very active. Given the fact that the first major theme of the day was “Social Media Strategies” this isn’t surprising.

    What was surprising was the fact that there was very little discussion of target markets or key constituencies or demographics. Instead, folks talked about real people doing real things within a social medium. Shocking!

    When the user is the ultimate arbiter, you never know what they might do or how they might connect with you. Better to be listening and accommodating as opposed to always strategically planning for message control.

    And, to be sure, there was talk about control, but not in the way folks think about print or broadcast. In all, it was really heartening to see the cool work of folks in fields like tax preparation.

  3. Great Questions
  4. Folks didn’t get too niche or narrow, instead asking broad questions that could apply across “verticals”. The whole conference exposed me to the fact that everyone, regardless of title or industry, faces challenges with Legal, Consumer Marketing, PR, Business Development, etc.

    We all have to make our cases and fight our battles because most of our bosses and co-workers aren’t internet savvy. Good to know the folks in the audience wanted universal answers not just those that would help them.

The Bad:

  1. Too Short/Compressed
  2. I came all the way to New York and I only got one day. πŸ™

    Part of this is my fault and part is probably a function of keeping the attendees and speakers at such a high level of quality and engagement.

  3. Ballroom as Conference Room
  4. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the realities of conference planning, but this was a discussion about Digital Marketing, not the Harrison Wedding. I would have preferred longer, square or rectangular tables instead of circular ones and more encouragement of mingling and chatting.

    I realize we weren’t at an un-conference and there was a semi-vibrant Twitter backchannel (#360i) but I always think discussions of Digital Marketing should strive for more & better. We’re doing Digital Marketing after all, shouldn’t the setup reflect something less formal, more collaborative/productive?

    Clearly I’m reaching a bit here, these are *minor* nitpicks, but there was some ugliness:

The Ugly:

  1. Pitches disguised as Presentations
  2. A certain firm that specializes in scrubbing filesharing networks and seeding bad data was the main offender, but when it’s wrong it SUCKS.

    Folks like that should just hand out flyers or ply their wares over drinks. I came to learn not to be sold.

    But we’re all Marketers, so it’s OK, right? Wrong.


    Although he was transparent (see above). ;-p

  3. No Wi-Fi
  4. A wireless-free room does not a good user experience make. Or something like that.

    Small points for Google-sponsored internet area, but this is 2008, not 1998. Why couldn’t Google sponsor a free wireless cloud?

    I’m verging on repeating myself from above about the realities of setting up a conference like this, but it bears repeating: if we’re doing Digital Marketing our conferences have to be as adept.

At least I didn’t bitch about the food and drink, which were good to great. πŸ˜‰

And in all seriousness, the power of this forum were the folks involved, both presenting and attending, our hosts, 360i, included. Knowledgeable, energetic and focused people all around.

I’d attend again, in a New York minute!

UPDATE: Here are links to the Twittering folks. Comment if you were there and I somehow didn’t mention you. By the way, and here I’m getting in shameless sycophant territory, H&R Block was incredibly inspiring and totally committed to the work they’re doing. If they feel that way about Tax Preparation and Financial Services, the rest of us need to up our game(s) considerably.

UPDATE II: I completely neglected the excellent tour de force, one-man show put on by 360i’s David Berkowitz. The absolute highlight of the day was his strip-tease/t-shirt show and his unabashed love for the bleeding edge of the digital space vis-a-vis Aztec/QR codes.

I should also mention that the roundtable discussions felt more like smaller keynotes. Where there could have been more mingling and discussion we instead drifted back again towards pitching and pontificating instead of listening. A little anti-Digital Marketing, but not a deal-breaker.

Next year? Maybe explore some more un-conference features, add some “official” back-channel instructions and utilize that connected crowd.

Maybe a summit-specific ARG?

Anyhow, great summit.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My employer is a client of 360i’s and we’re doing SEM, SEO and DWOM with them. We’re *very* happy with the results.

I should also clarify, if I haven’t already, that the summit was outstanding. My “Bad” and “Ugly” are probably a bit harsh and my “Good” isn’t good enough, it should be “Great” but then my metaphor would be ruined.

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