I’m here in San Francisco at the Web 2.0 Summit, which has become the must-attend tech conference of the year. As customary, Day 1 is made up of workshops, with the formal conference in the grand ballroom kicking off in the mid-afternoon.
First panel I attended was Advertising 2.0, with Rafat Ali, Founder of paidContent.org; Adam Gerber, Vice President, Ad Products & Strategy, Brightcove; Jeff Lanctot, VP and General Manager, Avenue A | Razorfish; and Michael Steib, General Manager, Strategic Ventures, NBC Universal. Some nuggets:
Gerber: “Marketers need to think about advertising as an experience. They have to stop thinking about it as exposure. It’s about delivering a compelling opportunity for users to engage the product as an experience.”
Lanctot: “Advertising 2.0 is about the activist consumer. They can shape brands, but I believe they’re not yet fully in control.”
The panelists agreed we’ll see a multiplicity of online advertising forms in the coming years, everything from short-form 5- to 10-second ads to longer-form advertising that’s integrated into a two-hour program. They also agreed the landscape will evolve slowly. Online advertising is still miniscule compared to the $67 billion annual ad spend on traditional television. “Companies are not going to dramatically change how they advertise for a 1% share of the audience,” Gerber said.
Steib: “If an ad’s irrelevant to me, two seconds is too long. On the other hand, I went out of my way to see the Mac ads on apple.com.”
55% of online ad dollars go to sites that reach 15% of the online audience.
Lanctot: “The notion of media fragmentation today will pale in comparison to how it’ll look three years from now.”
Gerber: “The majority of Youtube’s traffic is international, and a substantial amount of the content on Youtube is pirated.” In the near future, professional content will come online in large numbers. “The media companies will be part of a bigger wave than the first wave of user-generated content.”
More Gerber: “There’s no way a fragmented world scales without aggregators.”
The Mobile Discussion
Panel 2 was The Mobile Discussion, with Om Malik of GigaOm; Daniel Appelquist, Senior Technology Strategist, Vodafone; and Anssi Vanjoki, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Multimedia, Nokia.
Appelquist: “The place where we are with mobile today is where the web was in 1996-97. Look at what happened as the Web evolved. It all became about openness and consumer choice."
Vanjoki: "There is no mobile Web. It just doesn’t exist. But Web 2.0 is all about mobility."
Appelquist: “You usually get a bad user espeireince if you try to access the web on your mobile phone.” The .mobi suffix is useful because it tells consumers “this will work on your mobile phone.”
Vanjoki: “It’s a mistake to begin designing web pages for a 128 x 128 screen.”
Malik: “Do we really need to browse on our mobiles?” … “Sites like MySpace took off because they’re brain-dead simple.”
Some of the more interesting startups shown off at LaunchPad:
– In the Chair lets you "perform and get real-time feedback from professional musicians." They don’t say how they do this, but it looks pretty cool. They have thousands of users around the world. "It’s music performance as a video game," the CEO said.
– Instructables is a site for user-contributed collaborative learning. Some 2,000 people have contributed tutorials on how to build funky stuff. Today they’re launching a feature called Collaboration that lets you work with friends, a small team or everyone.
– Pidgin Technologies has developed something called BoardTracker, which tracks forums in the Boardscape, "the blogosphere of boards," or forums. "Boards are more active today than ever, with 300 million members generating 50 billion posts." But it has been virtually impossible to communicate with people on other boards.
Solution: Klostu, a network of boards with some social network seasoning. You can bring your Flickr, Youtube, Gmail and delicious accounts into the boards. Looks fascinating, I’ll be giving it a try.
– Stikkit. From the site: It’s "the way notes should work. Stikkit
gives you the digital equivalent of a sticky note: the easiest thing
you can grab to jot down an idea or reminder. As you type, Stikkit
watches for appointments, to-dos, people, bookmarks and more, magically
extracting and organizing the important details. It’s like having a
personal assistant following along after you."
– Sphere, which does something I considered doing two years ago. They clue in readers on blosophere conversations about an article that appears on a publication’s site. So, Time or Marketwatch have buttons that readers can click on to get additional background and context on a subject.
– Adify lets you build your own ad network. "Let 1,000 networks bloom!"
– My favorite LaunchPad presentation was the 12th one, given by Nicole Morris of 3B. Using 3B, you can create a 3D walk-through experience, complete with avatar, around your digital media. (She showed off Flickr photos and MySpace pages; don’t know if it works yet with videos or other rich media.) It pulls out individual photos and creates 3D wall galleries. It looked really, really amazing. Will definitely be checking it out.