The economics of a conference are astounding – create something extraordinary, and people will pay anything to be there. TED costs $7500 to attend, and they have a waiting list of thousands.
Advertising consultant Cindy Gallop, as quoted in Digiday’s Can Conferences Save The Media Industry?
“Saying the conference industry has exploded is not an exaggeration,” David Adler, founder of BizBash said. “The industry has increased tenfold in the past few years. Twenty percent of marketing budgets in general are face-to-face events.”
The most successful include the likes of the relatively new, small and blue chip events All Things D, TED and the Founders Conference. All three are held up by people involved in conference industry as the way to do a perfect event: invite only exclusive, interesting and innovative people.
But not every conference can become TED. In fact, there may even be too many conferences. Every magazine, newspaper (with a few notable exceptions) and website seems to want to throw an event. Some do it well, while others flail miserably in a sad attempt to mimic their more successful counterparts.
Digiday came out with an interesting compilation of perspectives on millennials (aka Gen Y, born in from the ’80s to the 2000’s) who comprise the new crop of working professionals in ad agencies.
The ad exec’s perspective seems largely to be that millennials feel excessively entitled, are at times over-payed and are inclined to having big ideas but no mastery of a craft. Example: an agency executive talking about a millennial he hired and then let go (via WTF Millennials: Managing Agencies’ Newest Generation:
He didn’t know how to do anything. He could talk about stuff and criticize what agencies were doing but really added no value. At one point, I walked by his desk and saw Facebook on one monitor and Tweetdeck on another. I told him that he’s so good at social media that he’s totally unproductive. We let him go a few days later. In his mind, he nailed the task and moved on to help get the ad industry back on track. Sigh. The overconfidence, zero accountability and zero remorse is 100 percent millennial. They don’t get the concept of learning.
The millennial’s perspective seems to be one which struggles to reconcile with one too many contentions: old-school divisions of labor, integrating digital and traditional advertising, and harder, bigger questions like how to maintain (idealistic?) values of openness, honesty and social good, while working in an industry that isn’t exactly reputed for these things. They’re left unable (and perhaps unwilling) to master a craft because of a lack of the bigger picture, and at times a lack of mentorship to get there.
FJP: I thought about using Tumblr’s chat-post format to excerpt these pieces as a conversation between millennials and ad execs, but in my mind, the perspectives don’t really speak to each other. Though I don’t work in advertising, the conversation touches on adjacent industries just the same. The problem seems to be that many of us (millennials) view “learning” as a very intentional (and arguably selfish) affair. I’m certainly victim to the big ideas and not enough craft dilemma but it’s because I want to master a craft if I’m driven to on a personal level, and that drive entirely comes from having a clear vision of the big picture—confidence that my efforts today won’t lead to another future in which social good is at the bottom of the priority list, and profit is at the top. This attitude won’t work well in the average entry-level position, but it’s often our only entry point. I’ve been lucky enough to receive an education and professional mentors who encourage me to go long with my big ideas, which in turn makes me want to be accountable. Not an easy environment to create but much gratitude to those who’ve done it. —Jihii
Publishers are innovating in various ways across digital platforms. Digiday’s Josh Sternberg caught up with Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic, to discuss how The Atlantic will generate digital revenue in the future:
The Atlantic, the venerable155-year-old publication, is doubling down on its approach to the new wave of digital advertising: native ads. Launched three years ago, Native Solutions creates ad programs that have the look and feel of The Atlantic’s content. The goal: help brands create and distribute engaging content by making the ads linkable, sharable and discoverable. For example, take a look at the work it did with Porsche on the image-heavy sponsored post, “Where Design Meets Technology,” which was shared 139 times on Facebook and 80 times on Twitter.
The Native Solutions programs has been so successful that it now accounts for half of digital ad revenue, which is up over 50 percent so far this year.
“A lot of people worry about crossing editorial and advertising lines, but I think it respects readers more,” Lauf said. “It’s saying, ‘We know what you’re interested in.’ It’s more respectful of the reader that way.”
Read the entire article at Digiday.
Digiday’s Josh Sternberg gets to the bottom of Tumblr’s Ad strategy, one that attempts to deliver value to brands without pissing off Tumblr’s community:
For years, David Karp, Tumblr’s CEO, has professed his disdain for advertising. That’s now changing. But he’s now wagering that Tumblr can essentially opt out of the overall Internet ad system thanks to its size and influence.
Tumblr is betting advertisers will be taken with its impressive reach. According to ComScore, Tumblr had 58 million uniques in March 2012 (more than double what its tally in March 2011). It also boasts a passionate, young user base receptive to a Tumblr-specific ad system that operates outside of the industry’s standard display ad formats.
“The overall thesis of what we’re trying to do is empower and highlight interesting creative advertising,” said Derek Gottfrid, Tumblr’s vp of product. “It’s not meant for the direct-response crowd.”
That’s why it has set a $25,000 minimum for buying placement in “Radar,” the space Tumblr reserves on user dashboards to highlight interesting Tumblr accounts. The bet is this placement can act in a similar fashion as Twitter’s “promoted” ad products.
Tumblr is rolling the dice on being able to opt out of the regular ad system. Advertisers won’t be able to easily marry their Tumblr campaigns with what they’re doing on other sites. Tumblr is also pushing its own set of metrics for success — number of reblogs, replies to posts, likes, number of new followers — in addition to impressions. This typically doesn’t go over well with brands since it makes it harder to evaluate how their campaigns are performing. There’s even grumbling about these problems with Facebook….
Essentially, brands can’t re-use the same IAB compliant ad creative they use to buy ad space on publications such as the NYTimes.com, CNN.com, Vogue.com, ESPN.com, etc. So there’s a cost to producing unique ad creative for a single media platform.
Gottfrid’s argument: digital advertising has made great strides in direct response, but Tumblr believes advertising in social is lacking. Google AdWords hasn’t been a great place for creative. Twitter has momentum but is not a place for creative storytelling. Same with Facebook. Tumblr is trying to tap into the creativeness that thrives on the platform and also let its users interact with brands in a creative way….
Agreed. Online everyone seems to be fixated on direct response rather than building brand awareness.
Packages start at $25,000 and brands that buy in can highlight one of its posts — typically images or text, but all post types (quotes, links, chats, audio and video) are available to be to be included in the Radar — so that users will see, and then hopefully share the content. As of now, there are four members of the ad sales team, and the company hopes to have about a dozen by the end of the year. It is also rolling out self-service tools for smaller marketers.
No ads will run on individual Tumblr pages, just the dashboard.
I think Twitter has a similar buy-in of about $15,000, which brands can then spend to:
- Scale followers (with Promoted Accounts)
- Extend reach (through Promoted Tweets)
- Ramp awareness (through Promoted Trends)
The Wall Street Journal’s New York Fashion Week Pinterest just launched, and it already has a bunch of up-close and behind-the-scenes pictures taken by WSJ reporters who are at the runway shows. Emily Steel, a longtime advertising reporter at WSJ who was recently named a social media editor, explained that the project sprung from what WSJ reporters were already doing. They were going to the shows with their phones ready to live tweet and to snap pictures that they share on Twitter and Instagram, which also populate the WSJ’s Fashion Week social hub. Posting to Pinterest is part of the WSJ’s cutting-edge social media coverage of New York Fashion Week and its larger effort to integrate the social Web into the WSJ experience.