You know how when you know you should go to the gym or go for a run or whatever and you just don’t feel like it but then you do and you’re really glad you did and you think, “Why didn’t I want to do this when it makes me feel so great?”?
Well, I’m often like that about conferences. When I register for them, I think, “This looks good. I’ll go to that.”. But when the time rolls around, I think, “Shit. I have NO time for a conference. Why did I register for this?”.
And most of the time, if I do drag myself there anyway, the conference really is disappointing because, well, because most conferences are.
But The Future of Digital Marketing is different. I went to the first one (or one of the first ones) eight years ago and I’ve been to a few since and they’re always thought-provoking, inspiring, enlightening and just plain fun. Because they’re properly curated by Ashley Friedlein and the team at Econsultancy, people who are pretty much at Ground Zero of digital marketing. (Disclaimer: also clients and friends).
This year: no different. The day rolled around, I looked at my To Do list and thought, “I can’t go.” But I dragged my ass in anyway, sat down and within a few sessions, I was buzzing away with that feeling you can ONLY get by leaving the office and forgetting the To Do list and listening to smart people who think about interesting things that are relevant to your world.
It’s always a mixed bag at any conference but the hit rate at FODM is particularly high:
James Carson of Carson Content nailed some really pertinent things that needed nailing about the real role of content.
Will Critchlow of Distilled was his usual brilliant, funny self, sharing an insiders view of search. (Turns out it’s far from dead). Slides here
Gerd Leonhard of the Futures Agency riffed on… I can’t remember but I was happy going along for the ride.
Bruce Daisley of Twitter UK showed us what Twitter is great at (your interests in real time).
Toby Barnes of AKQA covered wearable technology without making it feel like the same old wanky ‘Minority Report’ thing. In fact, he made me excited about what’s coming.
Chris Smith of the FT lifted the lid on their HTML5 web app.
Antony Mayfield of Brilliant Noise did Big Data in the context of Big Stories.
I’m only picking out a few who really lit me up but they were all very, very good.
The most used words
Content – 37 mentions by speakers.
Mobile – 28
Search – 23
Big Data – 20
Social – 11
Google glasses – 5
Google – I stopped counting at 87
Lesson: In the epic battle for the Internet and the people attached to it…Google kind of won a few years back and we’re all just figuring that out in our own time.
The top three biscuits
New words I learned
Vinecast (also Vineterview) – you know, with Vine
Ubicomp – Ubiquitous Computing (I know: yuk)
Weaponise – not a new word but Antony Mayfield used it in a compelling way so now I will steal it and use it a lot too.
Bacn – email that is subscribed to and therefore not unsolicited (spam) but you aren’t going to get around to it for a while if at all.
Haute Tech-Couture – okay, I won’t be using this one anytime soon (sorry Toby)
Humarithm – Gerd’s go at ‘human + algorithm’. My vocabulary will probably not be making room for this one either.
New phrases I’ll keep an eye out for
‘Signed in everywhere’ – and all the Big Brother implications of that
‘The vertical stack’ – Hardware/OS/Content/Access/Payment/Context/Messaging
‘Conversational search’ (So cool: Search 1: Who is Barack Obama? Search 2: How tall is he?…etc)
Two cool ideas and four factoids I learned
That ‘mobile’ isn’t one trend, it’s two: mobile devices and all their implications; and mobility itself and all its implications. When I sit on the sofa watching TV and use my iPhone to buy a book, I’m not really being mobile but I am using a mobile device. We can think about the two trends better if we separate them. (Thanks for this one, Will).
That searches are changing a lot – The explicit part of the search (the term you type in) is supplemented by the implicit stuff — where you are, what device you’re on, who you are, your interests, what you searched for a moment ago… and the balance is shifting away from the former and towards the latter. (Will again).
That Twitter has, on average, a 1% engagement rate – which pretty much means 1% of tweets are retweeted, I think.
That tweet volumes go dramatically down during the really good bits of TV shows or sports events – then shoot up when the good bits are over. ((Thanks Bruce).
That Big Data doesn’t just mean lots of data – it means lots of data from lots of sources all mashed together in such a way that meaning squirts out (usually from a hole called Hadoop). (Thanks Antony and Toby).
Things I will run off and check out as soon as I can
Buzzfeed (I’m the last one on Earth who hasn’t played in it)
Big Data – a book by Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier
Nokia’s Design Your Day campaign and/or book.
The Nike Fuel Band – (Where exactly have I been living?)
Snow Fall – A remarkable avalanche story by John Branch on the New York Times (Thanks James)
Things maybe Velocity should seriously think about
A 70/20/10 model for encouraging innovation
Some cool slideware that captures our view of the world (we don’t do much of this but probably should)
Having a Product Manager like software companies do
Having a job title called Producer
About five ideas for clients that I can’t tell you about
A parting doodle
Great conference, Ashley and co.