It’s been a long time I didn’t post anything due to a lot of major reasons and I apologize for that. Today, I’m back with a post about the Digital Conference organized by the IAA (International Advertising Association) Lebanon Chapter on April 28th, 2011 at Monroe Hotel – Beirut. This is the last event organized by the actual cabinet of the IAA Lebanon Chapter, as it was said at the beginning of the conference.

This conference main purpose is “Leverage the digital media techniques through experts in the field” and was mainly focused on Social Media Marketing as most of the attendees were marketing teams from different well-known companies or agencies. Four speakers were invited: Michael Mothner, Mikko Kotila, Hussein Freijeh and Michael Stone. Let’s go through information about the speakers and through some ideas of each of their presentation.

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After a quick introduction by Ms. Chami, the MC, the first speaker was Michael Mothner: Founder, President and CEO of Wpromote, Mothner gave a presentation entitled: Integrates Search, Social & Display Campaigns. “Wpromote is a full service online marketing agency that offers, PPC, SEO, SMO, web design, and affiliate services. #1 ranked Search Marketing Firm globally.” (Wpromote bio on Twitter). Mothner defined modern advertising as a tale of 3 paradigms: Traditional Media like TV, Radio, magazines and billboards; Online Media which represent parallels to traditional media and Convergence of Media which consist in using different media tools in a unified strategy. He also presented 3 types of online advertising: Search (Ads on search engines depending on keywords), Display (Ads in form of banners or videos on websites) and Social Media. “The 3 screens are converging” said Mothner stating that the Phone, the Computer and the TV screens are converging to mobile solutions or tablets like the iPad. With the new Online Marketing tools, the process of advertising, which was linear in the “old way, become more flexible or circular due to the easiness of change. He concluded the presentation with an interesting sentence: “It’s not who you know it’s what you know”

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The second presentation was given by Mikko Kotila who is the Founder and CEO of Statsit that does Online Media Analytics for Agencies. His presentation was entitled: What’s Social Media Good For? How to Translate the On-Going Revolution in Media to Business Value?. The main idea of his presentation is that some things are changing and specially the change in how we get information. He went through numbers of people reachable with new online marketing tools compared with the number of people reachable with traditional online marketing and this to prove that, today, you can reach more people through traditional tools than through new ones. He also stated that the new social medias, which are considered as new and special, will soon be something normal, usual and unimpressive as is electricity, TV or mobile phones today. In the second part, Kotila showed some interesting factors to analyze and how to read them when doing market research and he did that by presenting examples of real studies he did with his team in the last few years. The impressive thing in those examples is that they used and analyzed online public conversations on forums and social websites. Some studies required studying around a million conversations to generate reliable results.

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After those 2 presentations we were invited to have a “Coffee Break” where we had the opportunity to socialize with other attendees and have talks with the 4 speakers.

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The third presentation started right after the 30-minutes break and it was given by Hussein Freijeh, Commercial Director at Yahoo Middle East, and the title of his presentation was: Online it’s Y!ou and it’s Right Now. The speaker decided to cut the time of his presentation in half to give some time for questions that he qualified as “challenges”. After giving some approximations about the Lebanese population which were considered over-estimated by the audience, he said that a successful online strategy equals Science, Art and Scale. The Science refers to the measurement tools, the Art refers to how you engage consumers and the Scale refers to the number of people who will see the ad and the sales numbers. Before giving time for questions he talked about the Product Marketing Life cycle that consist in: Awareness – Education – Conversion – Loyalty – Advocacy. While talking about those ideas he talked quickly about some creative online advertising-related services that Yahoo offers to companies.

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The fourth and last speaker was Michael Stone who works also at Wpromote as a VP of Sales and Marketing. In his presentation, Online Marketing – Today & The Future, he talked about 5 challenges faced by agencies in Online Marketing: Commercial Hurdles, Proficiency Issues, Technology Needs, Pace of Change and Advertiser Inertia. After that he talked about The Now Big Things that are: Search, Display, Ad Exchange, Mobile, Analytics and you have to add to all those a lot of Hype. And finally, Stone stated 5 important areas of focus: Borders Are So Last Century, Moving From Analogue to HD Advertising, Data and Real-Time Impact Are King Data, Transform Your Client’s Business – Not Just Their Marketing and This Is Now a Global Play.

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To conclude, I can say that this event was quite interesting and successful and we should thank the IAA for that. Even if you know some of the ideas presented by the speaker it’s always good to listen to international experiences, point of views and examples. This confirms the increasing importance of social media in global marketing campaigns. Definitely, in the coming months we will see more and more exchanges around this relative newcomer, i.e the social media, in the marketing and communication approaches of firms and agencies. The big question remaining is: Will the social media tools replace the traditional ones or will there always be a space and a role for each one of them ?

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I would be interested to have your opinion on that so please do not hesitate to leave me a comment.

P.S: You can join the IAA Chapter Lebanon on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Images from Google.com

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