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Alwayson: OnMedia

Posted on February 22, 2008 and read 859 times

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Last week I stuffed my Fuel Industries business cards under my mattress, slipped on an ihaveanidea reporter’s thong (which sadly doesn’t seem to be on sale anymore) and joined up for the day to cover one of the most innovative New Media events that’s emerged over the past few years: AlwaysOn:OnMedia at the Mandarin Oriental, NY.

For those who stick mainly to following award shows and traditional marketing conferences, I’ll provide a bit of the skinny on the emerging conferences where critical conversations (and business deals) are taking place and shaping the future of media.

Ad:tech is the “old” whopper of the pack. A few years back when it started it was the hub of excited conversation where experts in diverse interactive and media fields could share experiences and ideas. Today it’s grown to stretch around the world, and has gained some great notoriety for its lavish sponsor parties (one I’ve been to was on a boat).

Digital Hollywood is where the entertainment world collides into the digital media – and instead of the banners, ad networks and search topics that dominate ad:tech, the conversations here gravitate around content and content delivery as it relates to the Hollywood crowd, and how does it get monetized (advertising and branded entertainment! Cha-ching!).

It’s my first trip to an AlwaysOn event and their second year running this particular show, which is only one of many they produce to bring venture capital, creative minds, scrappy start-ups and media giants into the same room to trade ideas.

It’s an interesting sign of the times to see people as diverse as the Director of Advertising for Virgin Mobile and the Chief Digital Officer for Ogilvy in the same room with technology start-ups, venture capital firms and technology lawyers. While we all read about the massive shifts in media and start to figure out how to integrate Facebook into our advertising campaigns, the folks here are working out the kinks and already coming up with the nextbigthing. It’s kind of like hanging out with the smart kids at school who already finished their homework and are starting next week’s.

The most obvious indicator of this is that AlwaysOn walks the walk. The entire conference was webcast live on their website (for free), and online viewers were able to interact with one another – as well as the conference itself. As viewers watched they could chat with the speakers and audience through large plasma displays visible to everyone. We talk about conversations being facilitated by technology – but here we have a demonstration of it actually being deployed. In addition to the live chat, presentations were projected into the adjacent room where deal-making was taking place… and did I mention that their website is a full-blown social networking site with integrated blog content? Head over there and create a profile.

But on to the content. A KPMG report, timed to be released with the conference, found that 48% of the industries’ insiders feel that ad agencies have no real plans in place to leverage social networking, and 91% thought that agencies didn’t know how to do it right regardless. The same report projects that more than 25% of consumers’ time and advertising spending is going to be moving away from traditional channels. This is nothing new to anyone, but the purpose here is to find the opportunities in these media shifts. Shifts in economic patterns like this tend to create large amounts of wealth for people who move quickly to solve problems (and lose money for those unwilling to change).

…Didn’t Polaroid make cameras or something? Smith-Corona, weren’t they a typewriter company? Even the biggest companies can be run into complete train wrecks when they encounter what might seem like subtle shifts in consumer behaviour. I’ll guarantee that no one in that room is going to be blindsided.

So what are these advances? What are the important things to take away? Who’s driving these innovations? AlwaysOn has already done that work, placing much of the video content from the conference on their site – I highly recommend checking it out. You can even meet them on their network and through their blogs. Their site is their conference – the only thing it can’t convey is how good lunch was.


Sean MacPhedran
Director, Creative Strategy
Fuel Industries NYC






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