Digital conferences that don’t allow digital devices

So here I am at OgilvyOne’s Verge Digital Summit on digital media and interactive marketing and a non-Ogilvy, Time-Warner center usher-goon tells me to turn off my laptop which I am using to take notes and blog. What’s up with that irony … or is it a paradox? A room full of marketers getting preached to about social media, engagement, and nary a blogger in sight.

Nor permitted apparently. I’m not blaming Ogilvy. My hosts were bewildered too. I guess I go to too many conferences where backchannel ICQ chats are projected and everyone on the house has a laptop in front of them ….
Sheesh. I can see the staff getting nervous during a live performance if I whipped out an iRiver and a set of microphones, or a video camera during the premier of Borat. This entire bloggable/unbloggable conference thing got rolling last week when BuzzMetrics asked attendees to a client meeting not to blog it. I can see the reasoning there — clients trading notes don’t want those notes published.
update from the lounge because I skipped dessert:

  1. Morning session hosted by Michael Wolff — he of Burn Rate and Vanity Fair. Stewart Butterfield from Flickr, Shawn Gold from MySpace, the founder of and someone from Wolff tried to be contentious and play Mr. Mainstream “where’s the money” but the discussion begged more questions than it answered.
  2. zeFrank was intense. I’m not worthy.
  3. Dennis Kneale moderated the “I See Dead People” panel represented by NBC, AOL, and weirdly, the chairman of Technorati. That was particularly infuriating. Lots of buzzword bingo and old/new media people groping for their butts with both hands.

I’ll be more reasonable on the train since I’m still royally pissed I can’t use my laptop and being sour.

update on the train

Good conference all in all. Ogilvy people who presented in the afternoon were in many ways the highlights. More on that in a second.

Back to the morning. I’ve been predisposed to not like Michael Wolff due to my dislike of any Boswellian figure, and his panel was a bit of a buzzfest with “engagement” and “informed” and “ROI” and “Web 2.0” getting tossed around with abandon. The guest lineup was a tad too eclectic — I’d have rearranged the deck chairs. Butterfield was great. Gold from MySpace was great. Gerace from and Assad from Heavy were lesser lights.

The Kneale panel had a buddy from Ogilvy and me rolling our eyes. Kneale doesn’t like blogs — indeed, no one really took the time to explain that a blog is nothing more than a cheap CMS and like any tool will not solve the garbage-in/garbage-out factor. Anderson’s Long-Tail spiel shook the crowd when he presented a Technorati influence chart mapping big media against bloggers and demonstrated that Boing-Boing, Daily Kos, et all kick the stuffing out of the sad, beleaguered newspapers and networks.

In general there was too much of the rhethoric about interactive croaking established media. The discussion should have been on the death of the old page view model and the emergence of conversational/engagement marketing. A few brushes with the topic were pretty satisfying, but there was way too much time expended on the pace and immensity of the transition that to my thinking has already gone down. There was literally no discussion of subscription models or registration walls — which would have dominated this conference five years ago.
Shelly Lazarus, Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy opened up after lunch. High light was Dove commercial, “Evolution”.

Ogilvy showed a short film on digital media habits in eight countries. Good stuff to scare marketing people with.

Chris Wall, Ogilvy’s co-chief creative officer, came out and gave a brilliant presentation on episodic marketing and brand journalism. He struck me as scary smart.

Chad Hurley from YouTube was excellent and delivered the line of the day when an audience member asked him YouTube planned on improving its search capabilities: “I hear Google is pretty good at search.”

Don Tapscott from New Paradigm was excellent. Brian Fetherstonhaugh, the CEO of OgilvyOne was my hero when he showed the gap between online usage at 20% of media consumption while online ad spending was 6% of overall media spends.

I stayed for a TV commercial panel that was okay and showed some cool tv spot customization and targeting technologies from SpotRunner and Visible World.

Then I bailed for the train.

Key Takeaways:

1. Buzzword Bingo players would have been happy.

2. Trying to blog a conference, after the fact, from handwritten notes that look like they were written by the victim of a head injury is useless.
3. Advertising and media shifts are not the issues. The old 4 P’s are irrelevant. The trenchant points are co-creation and customer innovation, conversational marketing, reputation management, integrity and transparency, and optimization.

4. The Ogilvy people were the smartest people in the room and I sensed they are desperate for clients who can take advantage of that.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Digital conferences that don’t allow digital devices”

  1. Wy didn’t you say “Hill and Knowlton, let me take notes and I don’t spend six figures there, but I’m likely too because of your stupid policies!”
    Or do a john Wayne, boot up and tell the limp wristed nimrod that if he touches yournotebook again orn invades your space you wilol not only immediately withdraw your business, but also prepare him for use as clam chum.

    Mossberg’s D conference use to shut down wiFi during talks with luminaries until they were threatened by complaints and promises of bad conference reviews. that changed and now they are Wifi heaven


  2. Buzzmetrics declared a recent CGM conference a no-blogging zone and felt the heat. This is a drag as I cannot read my handwriting so my notes are useless and this conference actually has some good content. Ah well, I’ll reconstruct my notes tonight on the train.

  3. What were you thinking. My gosh, the last thing a marketer should do is communicate. Oh wait, maybe I have that backwards. Nah. Surely no one at Ogilvy could be mistaken, could they?

  4. well, you know I am going to be hounding you tomorrow on your take on the long tail stuff. there really is no escape.
    but that is crazy stupid that you couldn’t use a laptop in there, where is this North Korea?

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