Today I was greeted by 93% humidity in what was a very sweaty day in NYC. Despite the moisture, a good day was had.
I woke early (best night sleep since arriving) and headed out to Williamsburg to have breakfast with Anthony Volodkin of The Hype Machine.
Sound Alliance partner with The Hype Machine in Australia and so far it has been very successful. They have some cool innovations about to launch and we even talked about the idea of Anthony coming out to Australia to speak. Watch this space. Anthony took me to Egg – which was a great cafe. I even saw my mate Glenn Rogers walking down Bedford. He was previously at News Digital and before that Seek and is now in NYC working for Razorfish.
After wandering around Williamsburg I headed back into Manhattan for the first of three sessions today. The first one was around Global Trends around creativity in Media and was definitely a viewpoint from a media perspective. It was hosted by Charlie Crowe of C-Squared who run the Valencia Festival of Media. He was joined by former P&G Media Head Bernhard Glock and Initiative Media MD Mauricio Sabogal and the trio went through some of the stronger campaigns from the festival.
To start, Crowe played a snippet from WPP CEO Martin Sorrell talking about the new task for agencies. He was saying agencies are about smart thinking, smart execution and smart implementation. “The business is about the application of big ideas using technology.” Sabogal went one step further and stressed the importance of results.
Some interesting campaigns were presented but nothing that really wowed the crowd. Glock presented a pretty neat Gillette initiative run across India by Mediacom called ‘India Votes’ – it was clever and had a great sizzle reel to accompany it. Unfortunately – like almost all sizzle reels – no results.
It was then back down to the NY Times building for ‘Digital Influencers: The New Media Network’ which saw marketing execs from Gap and Virgin America mixed with ‘internet celebrities’ iJustine and MysteryGuitarman.
I have to admit I’m not across MysteryGuitarman but I am aware of iJustine. They are what they call internet famous over here – in AU we really don’t have them but the main examples I can think of are Natalie Tran and Blunty, neither of which I’m convinced have real cachet.
To be absolutely honest – I don’t get the concept. The idea is basically brands use these internet celebs to generate content and also push distribution. The problem is a lot of these internet celebrities are just shameless product promoters with a relatively fleeting audience base. The premise is these people reach the ‘influencers’ but I’m not buying it. iJustine’s whole website is basically very obvious product plugs for brands who have paid for the privilege. It might fool tween girls but the whole area feels wrong.
Mysteryguitarman is marginally better. He did a project for Garnier they showed called Desert Duel. It had 1.4m views. The guitar man claims he can guarantee advertisers 1m views of a video. That’s a nice ROI guarantee, but will it actually sell product.
The idea of the digital influencer is valid but I thought this panel missed the mark. Plus both internet personalities felt a little whorish to me. They talked about the ‘trust’ they generate with the audience but were shamelessly commercial. Feels at times they are basically cheap, low/no-risk experiments for brands wanting to tick the box around viral/social.
Last session of the day was at BB Kings Club and was a Music Industry Roundtable with loads of label and media/advertising people. Oh, and Marky Ramone. And Ramone was easily the standout.
It’s not often you have a rock and roll hall of famer on a panel at an advertising conference but Advertising Week is a pretty big event so it didn’t feel out of place. Joining him were panelists from Grey, Sony, Pandora and The Bowery. It was a very strong group.
Kenny Ocha from Sony Music was commenting on the power of advertising – and having a track licenced to a TVC. He cited numerous examples around Franz Ferdinand, Cake etc … but mentioned that Passion Pit saw considerable uplift from a Palm ad. How much uplift? Well, prior to the placement the track was seeing around 1,000 downloads a week. After the ad. 28,000. Pretty significant.
Aimee Higgins from Pandora was also on the panel. She was claiming 60m registered US users for Pandora. The figure felt high. Pandora was on rocky ground but seems to have found life on the mobile device and is now the dominant music streaming/cloud service in the US. She mentioned they run 1 ad per 20 minutes. It’s a .30. So every hour the listener only gets 1.5 mins of ads.
Compare this to broadcast radio, which has around 20 mins of ad content per hour, and you have to wonder … how can Pandora make money? Like, real money. If the radio model needed 1 mins of ads to every 2 mins of programming then how can Pandora work with 1 min for every 50 minutes without charging significantly more to advertisers?
Marky Ramone discussed the power of advertising to bring new fans. The Ramones have licensed numerous tracks to ads and for Ramone the benefit is getting new people to experience their music. A comment from him. “We even did an ad for Mastercard. It’s a bit of a journey from CBGB’s to Mastercard … but … it’s fine with me.”
When asked whether labels would be around in 5 years Ramone commented that “a lot of label people, good creative people had lost their jobs” and “a lot of them are walking dogs around my area to make a living.”
Jesse from The Bowery talked about their approach to creating great events, and great unique venues. The best illustration of this is the Brooklyn Bowl – see for yourself – http://www.brooklynbowl.com/
A great panel and generally upbeat discussion around the challenges and opportunities for the music industry.
You can’t help but wonder whether the advertising agency is about to face the same significant change the music biz did 10 years ago. If there’s one theme of Advertising Week it’s the emergence of technology and the confusion around how to deal with it. Everyone this week wants to flex their digital credentials but as an onlooker it feels like most are looking to digital as a silver bullet not a channel.
From Advertising Week in 2010 it appears that the next 2 years are going to be very interesting.