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November 6, 2006

From the Alley to the Avenue

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Ad:Tech New York 2006 kicks off with a keynote by new media expert David Lumbars. The keynote was introduced by ad:Tech chair Drew Ianni, and if you missed it, you may want to start pestering Google about their time machine plans. This was one of the good ones.

David is Chairman and CCO of BBDO North American. He is something of a savant in the new media and television world, but his insights can easily be transferred onto the Web and implemented into your marketing strategy.

This morning’s keynote focused on the following topics:

  • Brand planning
  • Producing quality creative
  • Dealing with short attention spans
  • Engaging user controlled media

What I loved about David’s speech is that he really never answers any of the questions posed. Instead, he produces more questions and ultimately dares marketers to be creative enough to find the answers within themselves. I completely love that about him.

Drew Ianni questioned David about what’s on his top of mind right now. What are the things that he is focused on?

It seems that David, like most of you, is focused on creating things that are so great and engaging that users voluntarily want to go and grab it.

Well, sure, but how do you do that?

You make brilliant content and put it on a medium no one would ever expect. Don’t think about the new online video you want to make or the MySpace page you’re waiting to create for your client. Think about whom you’re engaging and how they like to be engaged. Think about the "what" before you determine the "how". The medium will always follow.

As David stated, "I don’t care what the medium is, as long as it’s something people want to engage with… I’m just about reaching people."

Amen, David.

David’s about reaching people, not offending them. When asked what keeps him up at night (in the context of his job. David was quickly reminded this wasn’t a Barbara Walters interview. Heh!), David answered that he fears now that there are so many ways to engage customers, we’ll upset them by bombarding them with too many ads and giving them no room to escape. By constantly asking users to engage, you risk upsetting them.

How do you get around this?

David answered his typical, "I don’t know" (David is not concerned with having answers to everything), but I think the way to get around this is to not to ask them to engage, but to make them want to. Make them seek out the experience. Put a lot of colors on your palette. Find mediums you didn’t know existed and be there.

For example, David talks about the grates that business owners in New York pull down at night to secure their shops. Artists are now using them to paint and create beautiful murals. Be where people don’t expect you to be. People will notice.

One of the best questions asked during the keynote was, "how do you convince a client to be doing something online or in mobile when they’re hesitant?"

The quick answer is you don’t.

You should never have to convince a client to do anything. If your insight is rich and deep, the work that falls out it should seem like common sense. It should be that Eureka! factor. The logical path you never saw before.

I love that. I think the reason David struck such a chord with me is because he reminds me of one of our Analysts. David is Bruce Clay’s version of Bradley.

Bradley Leese is one of Bruce Clay, Inc. most successful analysts. He’s nothing short of brilliant, and his mind works in the same abstract way that David seems to do. You see the tree bark and visualize the leaves. Bradley and David see the leaves and figure out how to connect it to the tree. They think outside the box and they create amazing things you never would have thought of. If you haven’t met our Bradley, he’s at ad:Tech right now, so come on down to the booth and introduce yourself. You can tell him Lisa sent you. :)

To end, David reaffirms that your quest as a site owner or marketer will always be to find something engaging and fulfilling. Unfortunately, there’s no gospel to tell you how to do this. Wherever the genius (madness?) comes from is entirely up to you. Go be mad!

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