The Future of the Web is… Television

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to jump down to Mexico City for IAB Mexico‘s Conecta conference. It was my first visit to Mexico and also my first time at Conecta, and it proved to be a very productive and enjoyable trip. Thanks to my old friend Dave Morgan for introducing me to Bianca Weishäupl of IAB Mexico (@bianca_iabmx) – and to Bianca for her invitation. 

#iabconecta turned out to be the biggest online media conference in Mexico, and Bianca and her team did a great job of putting on an exciting and engaging event. There’s a ton going on in online media in Mexico and Latin America, and there were more than a thousand online media leaders at Conecta, all very engaged and excited about prospects for further growth. 

Day One

Avinash Kaushik (@avinash) of Google led a great session on measurement. Avinash is an awesome speaker – very dynamic, funny, and goes straight for the meat. Pointing out that “online advertising is not a faith-based initative,” Avinash demonstrated several ways that measurement can be used to quickly and easily determine the effectiveness of online tactics. Why try to reason out if something is going to be effective? Just try it and see (if you have the traffic, that is). Indeed, rapid experimentation might be the most powerful aspect of online (vs traditional) marketing. 

Wenda Harris Millard of Medialink announced that the next level in “Making Measurement Make Sense” will be to move toward counting only  “viewable impressions.” It’s hard to argue against that – but it’s a long, long, long way from counting impressions as served from the publisher’s ad server. 

My vote for best session overall goes to Dave Morgan of Simulmedia (@davemorgannyc) for his powerful pitch on the future – and importance (!) – of television advertising. That’s right, television, not “online” or “internet.” Having founded both RealMedia and Tacoda (and now Simulmedia), Dave is a real online advertising pioneer, and an “old media” hand with more than 20 years total experience in the advertising industry. I remember Dave evangelizing the concept of “behavioral targeting” when launching Tacoda, and now everyone talks about audience-based targeting as if it’s the natural thing. Based how that played out, I wouldn’t hesitate to bet that if Dave says he’s “left online advertising for TV,” it’s for a good reason – and that it wouldn’t be a bad bet to follow him! 

We all know that TV will eventually be 100% digital and will converge with the IP-based systems we’re so familiar with in online advertising. Dave’s argument is that while all of us are zoomed in on the LUMAscape slides focused on online advertising, TV advertising will remain by far the largest piece of the advertising pie for many years to come. And while we all have the fact that proportional online ad spend has still yet to catch up with online usage, Mr. Morgan points out that TV advertising has grown every year over the past 15 years and doesn’t seem to be tailing off. Print and radio are suffering at online’s expense; Dave is placing his next big bet with TV. 

Good ideas are always so obvious in retrospect. Dave’s new company Simulmedia is based around the basic premise that “big data will transform TV advertising” – i.e. applying internet measurement methodology to the TV audience. Given that there are “80 million hours of TV from 9,485 channels, plus 57,000 commercials per day in the U.S. alone,” how could the old-school, panel-based TV audience measurement methods possibly produce much meaningful data? They can’t. Dave pointed out that some of the panels are so small that if even one person crosses an age boundary, it can drag TV “points” ratings down several notches. Simulmedia is crunching data from cable head-ends, set-top boxes, and connected TV’s to compile the largest database of TV audience behavior yet assembled, and then (of course) it will make that data available to advertisers and publishers. It looks like a solid value proposition, and I wish Dave the best. Based on his past performance, I bet he’s going to crush it with Simulmedia. 

Day Two

By now it’s a cliché to say that a company is “using social media to engage with consumers” – but Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company (@scottmonty) won best session of Day 2 for his crystal clear and reality-based presentation of how Ford is actually doing just that. I bet Ford used to be more connected to its customers, and now social media is helping them get reconnected – so what happened in the meantime? I don’t think it’s just a matter of scale. Scott showed how social media encouraces direct conversations and promotes transparency – both great things – but why did we lose them in the first place?  

Takeaways

#1 – Online ad spending in Latin America is still small relative to the U.S., but it is now growing very quickly. Ad spending in Brazil is still under $1B/year and is perhaps a quarter of that in Mexico, but these markets are taking off in a big way. 

#2 – It’s all about AND. It’s not tech or media, it’s tech and media, response and branding, search and display, targeting and creative. We’re fooling ourselves if we think that ad targeting is the answer without great creative. Similarly, search and display advertising are not like Mars and Venus, they’re like chocolate and peanut butter. Those with the ability to integrate will win. 

#3 – Mobile, mobile, mobile. Mobile is growing even faster outside the U.S. than here at home, and this means that the leapfrog effect will be more of a factor. Many people in Latin America, Asia (and Africa!) will never use a “computer” as we know them here in the U.S., and their online experience will therefore be mobile from Day One. If 2010 was the year of “Mobile first”, 2012 will be the year of “Mobile only” for many. 

#4 – There is a huge opportunity for technology innovation in Latin America (and other ’emerging’ markets). Many Conecta participants told me that the culture in Mexico simply has not supported entrepreneurs in the same way as it does here in the U.S. While major U.S. and European players are on the ground here, the world is not flat, and things will play out differently in Mexico, Brazil, and other American markets. This means there will be many places where local, or locally-targeted, plays will meet with great success. 

#5 – Randy Rothenburg is bringing the bow tie back, with a vengeance. 

And remember, #6 – “Every time you put flash on your website, a puppy dies.” @avinash

I had a great time in Mexico City, and I hope to be back soon – most likely November 3-4 for EO Collaborative @EOCollaborative. 

Thanks also to the Jonas and Arian from Red10 and to the EO Mexico City team for giving me such a warm welcome to their city. Looking forward to seeing you again soon! 

Bowen Dwelle, AdMonstersLast week I was fortunate enough to be able to jump down to Mexico City for IAB Mexico‘s Conecta conference. It was my first visit to Mexico and also my first time at Conecta, and it proved to be a very productive and enjoyable trip. Thanks to my old friend Dave Morgan for introducing me to Bianca Weishäupl of IAB Mexico (@bianca_iabmx) – and to Bianca for her invitation. 

#iabconecta turned out to be the biggest online media conference in Mexico, and Bianca and her team did a great job of putting on an exciting and engaging event. There’s a ton going on in online media in Mexico and Latin America, and there were more than a thousand online media leaders at Conecta, all very engaged and excited about prospects for further growth.