The future of marketing: All roads lead to Rome


On October 18th, I-COM, The International Conference for Online Measurement held its 2012 Global Summit.

This is important because I-COM is probably the most important marketing conference occurring today and one that most marketers have never heard of.

For the last year, I have had the great pleasure to represent WOMMA on I-COM’s board of directors and had the opportunity to collaborate with quite literally some of the best and brightest digital marketers and big data thought leaders that exist anywhere on the globe.

This group worked tirelessly to create a worthwhile conference framework, identify the right topics, build a structural framework for the conference, speaker presentations and breakout sessions, as well as, identify industry thought leaders that people would in some cases travel half way around the world to listen to, learn from and in some cases have a rousing debate with.

I-COM GroupPhoto450

Here are some insights from the conference, in case your travel budget didn’t allow for a junket to Italy.  There is a lot of content for you at this link, so surf through and pick out what you are most interested in.

Here are some high points and opinions that I’ve distilled from the preplanning work, the conference content and post conference discussions.

1.  Don’t get overly enamored with Big Data.  Yes, it will change how the best businesses plan their strategies but it isn’t a magic ball that will close all the knowledge gaps you have.  Effective use of Big Data requires organizational alignment, special skills, tools and processes to utilize correctly.  The old phrase junk in-junk out still applies, so be thoughtful in what and how you measure.

2.  Dashboards aren’t the next killer app.  Just like Big Data, dashboards are an efficiency tool that provide value when used effectively.  Like one observer put it, “Dashboards are a lot like your highlighter in college.  If you highlighted the wrong stuff in your text book, or everything in a chapter for that matter, you were sure to flunk your test.  Be thoughtful in what you highlight”  Just like Big Data, junk in, junk out.

3.  Campaigns are transitory.  Content is not.  Marketers need to move their fixation from campaign optimization to content optimization.

4. Traditional activity metrics (impressions, likes, etc.) have a waning importance.  With the growth and soon critical mass of ‘Do Not Track’ restrictions, marketers must move strategies and activities to ‘value metrics’, such as content and page value (and correlated KPI impact).

5. ‘ROI’ of social and in many cases, digital engagement is still very amorphous.  Currently, the ‘R’ in ROI has no real, solid currency (as measured in business impact or Profit and Loss terms).  Marketers need to apply more discipline to get to that before ‘The ROI of social’ has any real meaning or value.

6.  Global, category standards are critical to ensuring acceptance.  However, standards need not include a measure or a metric for the sake of applying one (there are a lot of measures out there that either make little sense or are impossible to track.  Let’s not add to this clutter).

7. Continuing education is critical to adoption and value generation.  Create, use, teach and enforce consistent, relevant vocabularies and approaches to the important general or universal categories.

8.  Accept that evolution in this space is occurring so quickly that the focus should be on the process and best practices, not an end result.

Of course there was a lot more than this that occurred in Rome.  Lots of detail and smart opinions were shared and discussed on topics such as mobile, attribution, multi-screen analytics, attribution and advertising effectiveness in a digital age just to name a few of the many meaty topics.

Spend some time with this information, you’ll be glad you did.  Share it (or at least the eight points I’ve outlined above) with your peers and use it to continue to evolve and improve your own initiatives.

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