Last week I was in Nice, which is nice, especially in the sunshine. Truthfully, temperatures were hotter than I feel comfortable in and I had to be really careful as I’d failed miserably to plan for such heat and forgot hats and suncream. Luckily, the bars on the beach all have umbrellas for shade. And beer used for cooling purposes.
I don’t recall ever having been to Nice before, so I was unprepared for the rich and the beautiful people wandering around. Bernie Eccelstone’s doppelganger, in the nicest sense of that word, was drinking beers at a beach-front bar on Thursday afternoon which was unsurprising as the Formula One circus was in town, or rather, in the next town; the Monaco Grand Prix revving its engines in preparation for Sunday’s race. Sitting here a few days later I can tell you that Lewis Hamilton won which means the bruises are worse as I have been kicking myself for not extending my visit and catching, at the very least, some practice circuits. Possibly a golden opportunity missed.
Fortunately, I was prepared for the TM Forum Management World 2008 conference which I was speaking at. I don’t usually speak at this kind of event (large conference) but was looking forward to it, especially as I was in one of the break-out rooms speaking to audiences with an interest in ‘Advertising & Monetizing TeleMedia Services’. The conference is aimed at the telecoms business in general with sessions ranging from ‘End-User Device Management’ to ‘Using SDF/SDP for Rapid Service Deployment’ and not an advertising-specific event. In fact, Microsoft was speaking on a whole range of topics unrelated to the ad technology world I’m used to working in (See also MSFT Press Pass). The session I was speaking at, ‘The New Monetisation Paradigm: Content, Advertising, and Markets of One‘, was surprisingly well attended given the 4pm start time: conferences can be long hard days and 4 o’clock is certainly more ‘retire to the bar’ time than ‘explore new business model opportunities that can generate revenue through advertising’ time.
Given it’s not an advertising-driven conference I wasn’t sure exactly how to pitch the presentation of Microsoft Advertising’s view of monetisation opportunities so I opted for a general view of display-based advertising markets, value & opportunities in a multi-screen environment that a Telco could easily provide. My co-presenters, Grant Lenahan from Telcordia Technologies and Gary Galinsky from Call Genie had taken slightly different views of advertising options on mobile, incorporating non-display opportunities (which include SMS messaging and ad-funded calling). All together, I think the three stories gelled into a very intriguing story for the operators’ representatives in the audience.
Thankfully, all three if us had taken these different approaches to the idea of monetising services which meant that, while we were in overall agreement, our presentations were sufficiently different for the audience. I’ve found one of the downsides of some speaking engagements that are put together by third parties is a lack of, if you’ll pardon me, engagement with your fellow speakers. Last week, I don’t believe it really mattered as there were good stories to tell.
I focused on the Microsoft Advertising suite of tools to tell my story of ‘connected advertising’ which, in a nutshell, suggests that advertising should no longer be considered separate by medium. Advertising is a conversation, a long-term engagement or a multi-layered pitch to a consumer. It’s not a 30 second radio spot, a 728 banner or mobile coupon. It’s all those plus relationships from other communication tools or social sites and a compelling future, at least for me, is one where advertising messages know this and ensure you’re not burned by messages nor are you swamped by irrelevant promotions. Advertising becomes both connected and smart.
So, where does mobile fit in? Well, my co-presenters were able to give compelling success stories for monetisation today: and some things are a long way from traditional thoughts of advertising. My pitch, if you like, was more of a future think-piece. The dots are not connected yet but they could be. I wanted to ask the audience to forget traditional notions of advertising and think how advertising to customers may become part of a larger communication through connected technology. I believe that’s better for everybody and I wanted to hear what they had to say about it.
The discussion that followed the presentations was fascinating for me. I come from a background of working with content owners who need to generate revenue via advertising to provide the services they’re offering. Much of the audience didn’t come from that perspective; many were – understandably – unfamiliar with advertising processes and the roles each player in the ecosystem fulfils. Many represented the service provider in the mix who may, for example, be providing a gateway for others to advertise rather than sell media space themselves. It’s a very different viewpoint and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of adapting my experiences to a different environment. Only the future will show which way it will play out and, unlike the Monaco Grand Prix, I can’t sit here and tell you who the winner will be.
Disclaimer: the views here are my own and are not necessarily the opinions of my employer nor of the conference management. You have read the full disclosure, haven’t you?