Yesterday was day two of OMMA Global, and I think the theme(s) of the day were Innovation and Distribution.
On the distribution front, one of my favorite track sessions was “Joining the Party: Publishers Can Play and Prosper in the Social Media Sandbox,” during which Alan Levvy from BlogTalkRadio said:
Of course content’s got to be everywhere, because audience is everywhere.
I also found Sang Kim’s discussion of how communities built by brands can leverage personalization (another much hyped technology of the late 90s returns) to really encourage folks to engage, by recommending groups and discussions that seem relevant based on user profile or user action before registration.
In one of the keynotes, Darrell Huston from Microsoft showed off what they called a “multiscreen” experience branded for Harry Potter – on Web, XBox, Surface, and mobile phone. Interesting stuff, albeit quite clearly a product demo of the Microsoft World. (I couldn’t help but tweet out a link to the Surface parody which came out at the same time as the original product).
The whole notion, central to the Assembled Web, that the days of artificial scarcity, ignorance arbitrage, and driving eyeballs to sites are over was heard throughout the conference, really. The world now is all about getting your brand, your content, and your interactions or transactions in front of people where they are.
The goal is to be ubiquitous and useful, not to interrupt and distract – and this is true whether you’re a consumer brand, a business-to-business enterprise, or a media company.
On the innovation front, another good track session was the horribly mis-titled “The Most Creative Social Media Campaigns of 2009” which really covered best practices and lessons learned from social campaigns, but also broadened into an interesting discussion about generational gaps. I worried at first this would descend into a “the kids are crazy” versus “the old folks don’t get social” discussion – one I particularly hate as I’m demographically old but behaviorally young in that equation – but it actually evolved into a nuanced discussion of mentoring, cross-generational understanding, and the business of retaining the creativity and innovation of a startup while scaling into a bigger more established firm.
Again, later, on the main stage, the discussion kept coming back to the notion of innovation as being that which will distinguish the survivors from the causalities in this difficult economic market. (If the theme of day one was that this is an age of uncertainty, I’d say the theme of day 2 was that innovation is the way out of that uncertainty, or at least the best possible response to it).
There was a panel which asked whether Madison Avenue had a future or not, but given that it was composed of senior agency execs, it’s not too surprising that they felt it did – so long as they kept the focus on getting rewarded for innovative new ideas.
Personally this made me wonder why it is that we so consistently associate innovation with startups – is it just a strong pro-entrepreneurial bent to US business culture? Is there something about an organization of more than say 50 employees that makes it impossible to innovate? (Or is the magic number more like 500?) Was the undercurrent I was feeling more about a suggestion that large advertising agencies can’t or don’t innovate, because they’re too focused on media planning and traditional creative?