360i Digital Marketing Summit Tackles What’s Best & What’s Next for Brands Online

September 29, 2010

Earlier this month, 360i held its annual Digital Marketing Summit at the Westin Times Square. The event brought together nearly 250 brand marketers, senior-level executives and industry analysts and focused on how digital is connecting brands and consumers in 2010 and beyond.

Following opening remarks from 360i CEO Bryan Wiener, AOL Chairman & CEO Tim Armstrong took the stage and presented a keynote address entitled, “The Largest Hill.” In his speech, Armstrong emphasized the importance of content to the digital industry and explained why AOL is putting content at the center of its business. “The biggest marketing leverage we have is our own pages,” he said, citing a study which found that most web pages are less than 20 percent content. “Imagine if you went to ESPN or CNN [on TV] and only 18% of your screen had content.”

One key trend Armstrong pointed out was the convergence of television and digital, evidenced by products such as Apple TV and YouTube, and behavioral shifts like the “Twitter/Foursquare revolution that’s going to happen in your living room.”  In terms of AOL’s place in the trend, Armstrong said the company is partnering with the “world’s best brands” – for example, this summer AOL teamed up with the Jonas Brothers to launch Cambio, an online entertainment channel that brings teens closer to their favorite stars.

In his keynote, Armstrong outlined key three trends for the future. First, he predicted a shift to a new web that will be completely redesigned. One example of this: AOL’s recently announced larger ad format, dubbed “Project Devil” internally, that includes more opportunities to integrate rich media within a unit.

Second, he stressed the importance of local content (as seen by AOL’s Patch). And third, he says the most important screen will be the plasma screen – on which TV and digital will truly converge. For more on this keynote, be sure to read 360i’s blog post from the event.

The next session, “Online, Meet Offline,” brought together Valerie Brown, Director of Consumer Marketing at BRAVO and Linda Cronin, Media & Interactive Integrated Communications Director at Coca-Cola North America, for a discussion on how their brands are extending online programs to create real-world interaction. During the talk, moderated by Adweek’s Brian Morrissey, Brown presented BRAVO’s most recent endeavor in bridging the gap between online and offline – a special promotion called Just Desserts Day that utilized Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Foodspotting to build buzz around BRAVO’s new series, Top Chef Just Desserts.  For more insights from Brown, be sure to read her Q&A on how BRAVO is tapping mobile to fuel buzz for its programming.

Coca-Cola’s Linda Cronin (left) shares insights with BRAVO’s Valerie Brown during the 2010 Digital Marketing Summit, hosted by 360i.

Cronin presented the myriad of ways Coca-Cola is leveraging digital to connect with consumers on the ground. She noted that today, there really is no line between digital and the “real world.” And given that, marketers should focus on creating engaging experiences that promote the best of both worlds. In digital spaces, Coca-Cola is unlocking better experiences for teens via Facebook (the social hub of all online Secret Formula activities), Twitter (via the @docpemberton handle, which now utilizes Twitter’s Promoted Tweets platform), YouTube and more. Offline, Cronin cited initiatives such as Coaster Moster (street teams that provided teens drinking Coke at theme parks with VIP passes to their favorite rides), the Swelter Stopper Dome (an igloo placed at Bamboozle tour stops that offered a refreshingly cool temperature, free product and more perks) and a Sticky Bits promotion in which teens can scan bar codes to access exclusive online content.

The next session – “Pitch the Marketer” – gave three leading solutions providers the opportunity to present tailored pitches based on a brand marketer’s industry and vertical objectives. Participating marketers included Beth Reilly, Digital Marketing, Kraft Foods; Aaron Stenhoff, Director of Marketing & E-Commerce, Red Roof Inn; and Carly Rosenberg, Vice President of J.Crew Direct. Following lively pitches from Appssavvy’s Michael Burke, ICUC’s Keith Bilous and AdMob/Google’s Elliot Nix and Sybil Watson, the marketers and solutions providers discussed opportunities and challenges, as well as how each offering might be of use to brands.

After a spotlight presentation from Lee Maicon, VP of Insights & Planning at 360i, Kraft’s Dana Anderson took the stage for a high-energy keynote address called “The Bad Boy’s Guide to Digital Bliss.” Anderson, who is SVP of Marketing Strategy & Communications at Kraft Foods, offered up several suggestions for marketers to consider as they approach digital.

Kraft Foods’ Dana Anderson (left) wows the crowd with “The Bad Boy’s Guide to Digital Bliss.”

Her recommendations:

  • Show some swagger. Confidence is key when dealing with digital.
  • Be sly. Going digital requires cunning, she said while pointing to a photograph of Jack Nicholson.
  • Play house. Kraft Foods had a digital hot house for two and a half days. First experts came in, and then teams worked with their agencies on fixing one problem or solving one goal.
  • Don’t settle. Anderson argued that in life, if you’re a 5 you can date a 3 or 7 but you can only (for the most part) move up or down two notches. She said the same theory holds when it comes to great work. “If you’re not a great client, you’re not going to get great work.”
  • Be a little reckless. Sometimes, it’s important to “color outside” the lines, which may mean putting consumer experience before branding. She said this was the case for Kraft’s Big Fork Little Fork iPad app.
  • Live Large. When it comes to digital, brands need to take it from little ‘d’ to big ‘D.’ Digital is a huge part of everyday life, and marketers should treat it that way.
  • Kiss & Tell. Thank everyone who helped you along the way, then market your marketing. Share success across teams and office to spread positive ideas.

For more on Anderson’s keynote, check out our complete recap from the event.

Sarah Hofstetter, SVP of Emerging Media & Brand Strategy at 360i, followed Anderson’s keynote with an address called “The Role of the Brand in Digital,” which spoke directly to the opportunities and challenges faced by nearly every marketer in the room. Her presentation centered on one key question: How does brand planning change for the digital landscape? Brands should consider their entire marketing ecosystem, she argued – this means paid, earned and borrowed media. The whole enchilada. When doing this, marketers should also consider 5 Rules of the Road, which you can read all about in our complete recap.

From left: Mark Pylypczuk (H&R Block), Michael Pruitt (H&R Block), Brian Curtin (Enterprise Holdings) and Michael Donnelly (Coca-Cola) swap strategies on the Marketer Case Studies panel.

Next up was a panel that featured case studies from an all-star lineup of marketers. Sharing their success stories in digital were Michael Donnelly, Group Director of Worldwide Interactive Marketing at Coca-Cola; Brian Curtin, VP of Marketing Services at Enterprise; Mark Pylypczuk, Director of Media Services at H&R Block, and Michael Pruitt, Senior Manager of Paid Search & Online Advertising at H&R Block.

Later, Adam Whippy, SEO Director at 360i, took the stage for a spotlight presentation on how social media is changing the natural search landscape. In his talk, Whippy framed the changing nature of SEO around a key trend: the staggering growth of Facebook, a site which now receives as many U.S. visits as search goliath Google. For example, Facebook was barely among the top 10 site referrers for Levi’s in 2009; however, this year Facebook is the #2 referrer (per Comscore Marketer).

So what’s an SEO to do? Whippy laid out three key ways marketers can prepare: 1) determine if your brand is disposed to integrate Facebook’s “Like” button on sites and microsites, 2) monitor social and search KPIs to establish competitive benchmarking and 3) involve your SEO team in Open Graph implementations to ensure that you direct your social credit appropriately for social search.

From left: Jim Lecinski (Google), Carolyn Everson (Microsoft) and Mitch Spolan (Yahoo!) outline what their respective engines are bringing to the table for marketers.

Following roundtable breakout sessions (which included topics such as Mobile Marketing, Cross-Channel Attribution, Audience Targeting/Display, Universal Search and more), was a powerhouse panel session comprised of reps from the Big 3 engines. “Integrated Solutions for Reaching Customers Across the Online Landscape,” moderated by Ad Age’s Abbey Klaassen, highlighted the latest innovations from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!. Panelists included: Jim Lecinski, Managing Director of U.S. Sales for Google, Carolyn Everson, CVP of Global Ad Sales & Strategy at Microsoft, and Mitch Spolan, VP of North American Field Sales & Advertising Agencies at Yahoo!. Check out our complete recap for details on the latest offerings from each engine.

The next session, “Social Media: Who Owns It Anyway?,” addressed one of the foremost challenges facing marketers when it comes to social marketing – determing which functional unit within the organization should take the lead on social. In other words, where does social fit within a company? Should it reside with PR? Marketing? HR? Something else? As Forrester Research recently discovered, it often transcends a number of teams (see chart below).

Source: Forrester Research

In this panel we heard from Beth Reilly, Digital Marketing at Kraft Foods and Don Steele, VP of Digital Marketing at MTV Networks. Forrester Senior Analyst Sean Corcoran moderated the discussion.

Rounding out the day’s events was the always-entertaining David Berkowitz, who presented “What’s Next: The Disappearing Line Between Online & Offline.” Though Berkowitz’s presentation included humor and a series of magic tricks, it also outlined some important considerations for marketers. As he pointed out, in between online and offline is where the consumers are – and that’s where we as marketers need to be. “This is where the magic happens.”

Following closing remarks from 360i COO John Ragals, attendees headed to an after-event on the USS Intrepid – a WWII aircraft carrier docked at the Hudson River in New York. Many thanks to our sponsors, speakers and attendees for making the 360i Digital Marketing Summit possible. See you next year!

See our complete photo album below for images of the Summit and after-party.