Impressions of Ad:tech Sydney

By Ross Dawson on February 8, 2007 | Permalink

A short, random collection of impressions from Ad:tech Sydney
It was undoubtedly a big success, with very good attendee numbers (meaning all the keynote sessions and quite a few of the breakout sessions had a crowd of people standing at the back), a very positive response from all the attendees I spoke to, and all the exhibitors I chatted to saying it was very worthwhile for them to participate. It was well organized and provided both quality content and an opportunity for the industry to get together. I have long criticized the events industry – globally but particularly in Australia – at being very formulaic and non-interactive. Ad:tech is lifting the bar for this kind of event in Australia. Not to say that it couldn’t have been done better, but it certainly created value for the local industry, and I’m told Ad:tech head office is pleased with the event’s performance, including financially.
The New Media Mix keynote panel session I chaired this morning (pre-session description here) was good fun, with Harold Mitchell and Richard Kimber in particular responding to my request for some differences of opinion. The core of the discussion ended up being about what is making the shift in media, channels, and online slower than it should be. Skills and education were a prominent topic, with all panelists pointing to education as a fundamental issue in Australia’s future success, which is currently not supporting the skills and capabilities we need as a nation. Harold went on to say how he believes the nation is being fundamentally held back by low bandwidth and poor internet infrastructure, at one point sparking applause from an audience that no doubt feels likewise. I noted the very slow uptake in social media participation in Australia. Certainly I’m concerned that as a geographically isolated country, Australia is far from taking full advantage of communication technologies, meaning that it risks falling behind in a global, networked, information-based economy.

On the blogging panel (detailed preview and slides here), it did feel a bit strange discussing the ins and outs of blogging with Darren Rowse of Problogger fame (who probably almost no-one in the audience had heard of) sitting in the front row. As intended, we had a robust conversation, including some disagreements on whether it was appropriate to have disclosed payments for blog posts, and whether you should promote anything to bloggers. Mark Jones, as a prominent journalist as well as a blogger, has firm views on the matter, and certainly views the roles as different. The most interesting was the audience responses, with getting on to 20% of the audience saying they wrote blogs, and perhaps 10% saying their clients had blogs. There were a few true believers in the audience, but more were interested in how to promote blogs and some of the mechanics.
I very much enjoyed the Interactive Agency Review panel session. The core theme was that digital agencies must work collaboratively. Part of the debate was whether it was the role of the client or the suppliers to establish frameworks and responsibilities for collaboration. This is very deep seam, which is a core part of the research I’m doing on networks of supplier relationships, and how multi-sourcing is managed. Expect a lot of material from me (including part of a book) on this topic over the next couple of years. This is a very pointed issue for clients today, with specialization increasing, and an increasing need to get multiple suppliers. An example was given of how Microsoft works with its agencies. But not many organizations have Microsoft’s ability to understand how to allocate work to a group of disparate and competitive digital marketing agencies so they work as a team.
The Social Networking and Consumer Generated Media showcased Bebo, Habbo Hotels, and Second Life, and their very different models. I hadn’t seen Habbo Hotels before – it’s an interesting model, with sites in 29 countries. It reminds me of the MyCoke site (of maybe it should be the other way around…) While we were an interactive marketing audience, I found the mentality around monetization of youth audiences very pointed. Clearly there needs to be a business model, but I wonder how long long young adults (defined as 13 and over by one of the panelists) will stay on sites where they are so overtly targetted for commercial purposes.
Other blogs posts on the event include Darren Rowse (Day 1), Darren Rowse (Day 2), Jon Beattie, Rob Woods, Mark Jones, Leith, Rapid Web Design (Day 1), Rapid Web Design (Day 2) and Benn Glazier, while Andrew Pascoe is compiling feedback.

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