The Ad Age Digital Conference, now in its fifth year, took over the New World Stages complex in mid-town April 6th & 7th for its annual two day event.
Like prior conferences, the talk fest had sold out before it began, indicating the draw that all-things-digital continues to have for the city’s ad community. The 700 some attendees–that’s folks from agencies, clients, marketers and creatives appearing over two days–hope to figure out how to best use the billions of ad dollars that still haven’t found adequate translation from the established TV ad market to the hyperspeed growth of online and smartphone worlds.
Small wonder; the numbers are impressive. Ad spending for video on the web is expected to grow 55-percent this year, with a projected 400-percent increase within five years in the total amount of video shown on the web. YouTube alone served out 8.5 billion streams of video this past January alone, according to stats released by Tremor Media at the conference.
Ad Age, the New York-based magazine, did a good job in filling panels with enthusiastic folks who run top agencies, manufacturers, and web category kings like Google and TMZ. Yes, that’s right. TMZ’s co-founders Harvey Levin and Jim Paratone came from their LA lair to talk up the advertiser friendliness of their growing web, TV, and soon radio empire.
Seems the gossip gatherers wanted to establish their bona fides before many of the folks who might bring national clients their way. The two TMZ execs trotted out their experience at established local and national news operations to highlight their approach to celebrity news.
Harvey Levin claimed his team gave no quarter to the personal handlers that he claimed other news relied on. One reason? Levin reeled off crew members who he discovered with prior jobs such as pumping gas (now a cameraman) and catering (now a trusted show producer).
TMZ’s numbers made a good argument for American’s continuing love of all things celeb: the company touted its statistics rating it number one for impressions on the web and now on smartphones. How big is that? The most recent numbers offered notched them at 58 million impressions across all three spaces (TV, web, smartphone) for the most recent month’s numbers.
One panel brought out the difficulty of bringing any change to one part of this new media world: cable packaging. Addressing a change long pleaded for by consumers, marketing execs from Microsoft, Samsung, GroupM and Boxee agreed that even though startups like Hulu and Boxee were allowing millions to “cut the cable” and “pick shows and not networks”, cable networks would not be unbundling their offerings “any time soon.”
“The studios make money from both the cable networks and the advertising that runs on their shows,” said GroupM’s Mike Bologna, director of emerging media said at the session Beyond the Box: Cord Cutting, Content and the Future of TV. “The money is good. They see no reason to give up their bundled approach.”