What I’d Like to Hear at Ad:tech NYC

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I’m at the airport about to fly down to NYC for tomorrow’s Ad:tech Conference in New York.  I’ve got my agenda spread out before me, highlighted and annotated, and I’m coming to the show with a number of questions:

For the Ad Networks and Exchanges Workshops (And for the surprisingly large number of ad networks exhibiting):  Once you’ve said you have a great site list, that you’re transparent and that you’ve got a black box process that helps you optimize better, what else can you say? I think networks have a permanent spot in the landscape, but there will be fewer — not more — of them as we go forward.  How will you all add value to the market instead of just reducing costs. Winning the race to the bottom just means you crash first.

For the Social Media Big Picture and Technorati Workshops: Isn’t it time to finally divorce the concepts of social media and advertising? This is not to say that brands won’t leverage social tools and environments; they most certainly will.  But after trying to shoehorn advertising into social environments that won’t accept it (and social mediaSocial into advertising budgets that can’t swallow it) isn’t it time to create a distinct line item in the marketing budget?  is much bigger than advertising will ever allow it to be.

For the Premium Content and Tablets WorkshopsWhere is the genuine consumer demand for tablet versions of magazines? I understand why magazine companies want the phenomenon to become a trend, but the whole thing is starting to look more than a little manufactured.  I love my iPad and I’ve sampled several tablet magazines which I’ve just as quickly learned to live without.  I don’t think I’m alone.  Is there really a there there?

For Keynote Speaker Steven Berlin Johnson, Author of “Where Good Ideas Come From:” What is the “Adjacent Possible” that’s presenting itself to web users and marketers right now? For those who haven’t yet read the book, it’s brilliant.  The “Adjacent Possible” is that technical or social change that allows a whole new set of innovation to happen.  The adoption of flash based video was the “Adjacent Possible” that enabled the creation of You Tube.  So Steven:  What door is opening right now?

For the Digital Dialog Workshop (and every session that invokes “customer or consumer relationships:” To the degree that you’re generating or leveraging consumer data, what is the explicit value exchange for the consumer?  How are you making the consumer’s life or experience better in exchange for the data or targeting you’ll profit from? As I said on stage at iMedia last May, I think that assuming we have some inherent right to target or traffic in data is a mistake, and that we have to start thinking of it as a trade, not a harvest.

For the Ad Innovation Breakout (“The Plumbing is Ready: Now Comes the Poetry:” Is this to be the golden age of advertising, or the end of advertising as we know it? I’m worried that creative thinking from advertising’s past — storytelling  — may not be the answer at all.  Isn’t this maybe the age of consumer anthropology rather than some kind of renaissance for ad creative?  It’s more than semantic:  this is the battle for what marketing on the web will really be about.  (And for the record, yes, the plumbing is ready.

I’ll be attending all of these sessions and more and I’d genuinely love to hear answers to these questions.   Do you have questions — or answers — of your own?

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