IMPACT16 Delivers Top Quality Content and Networking in Las Vegas

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IMPACT16, the signature conference of the Internet Marketing Association (IMA), rocked Las Vegas again this year, at the beautiful Aria Campus. This year’s version was the best yet! More than 125 facilitators shared their insights and unique perspective with the attendees which topped 700. As expected with IMPACT, there were many surprises and unique experiences as part of the experience.

The core of the event is the keynotes, covering a broad range of industry topics, with the leading experts in the field sharing their insights. Several topics came up more than a few times. For example, Andrea Ward from Oracle Marketing Cloud covered the increased need for connected data across a complicated spectrum. She introduced the concept of a brand fingerprint. Content was also a very hot topic, both on the keynote stage and in the breakout sessions.

Predictive analytics has become a major topic of conversation in marketing, and of course the discussion continued at IMPACT16. Darian Shirazi, Radius, went into detail on the predictive transformation we are currently going through. Based on successful accounts, we can use data to create predictive analytics that help us find more customers of that same type. At IMPACT16, Oracle and Radius announced that Radius’ leading B2B predictive marketing platform solution is now available on the Oracle Cloud Marketplace.

Melanie Butcher, Director of User Experience at IBM Commerce, showed us the work going on with IBM Watson to make interacting with computers more like interacting with people. It has shown that customers get more engaged the more they interact, and as Director of User Experience, Melanie has applied Watson’s technology to that end. The real language queries that Watson allows make for a very human-like experience. Her demonstration was a fascinating view into Watson’s ability to communicate in a human style.

Instagram was represented by Jim Squires, who questioned whether we are more or less social with the advance of technology. He also provided a blueprint for interacting with the audience on mobile. Businesses are using Instagram, and there are pockets of the social landscape that Instagram excels in. For example, six of the top 10 sites on Instagram are music sites.

One of the more esoteric presentations was given by Steve Cough, Founder and CEO of AVO. His was focus on telling stories and illustrated unique ways that data can be matched to occurrence in nature. His firm concentrates on leveraging methodologies and insights from the behavioral sciences to arm business leaders with the knowledge they need to build the companies that are shaping the world.

Each IMPACT conference has presented stimulating panel discussions, and this year was no different. A panel of CMOs discussed the technologies that are transforming the way marketers do what they do. When you get six CMOs together to talk about what they are excited about, the answers are bound to be fascinating. The technologies of the future were well-represented. Integration of content, mobile readiness and tomorrow’s communication technologies were all topics that the panel saw as drivers of change in the future.

One of the panel discussions and a breakout session featured the Women’s Leadership Group, moderated by Jeanniey Mullen of Mercer. Several women-specific issues were covered along with an entertaining dose of marketing banter.

The breakout sessions at this year’s IMPACT event covered many of the most important and discussed issues in Internet marketing. The breakouts allow a bit more attention to be paid to a particular angle, and the IMA assembled a top-notch group of subject matter experts. This year a dozen sessions, all focused on internet marketing thought leadership, brought us more than 50 speakers and moderators. As past attendees will tell you, great stuff happens in the breakout sessions. The narrower focus allows a deeper dive into topics like “Financial Technology and Internet Marketing” and “Content Trends in 2017 and Beyond.”

Internet celebrity Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, shared excerpts from his recently published “The Cheat Code” book of secrets, hacks and tips to get noticed and ahead. Brian’s unique style makes for a very engaging presentation. The topic of his book was presented very well and made a great keynote.

One of IMPACT’s signature events is their evening Welcome Reception, this at the brand new SkyFall Lounge at the Delano tower of Mandalay Bay Resort, featuring a powerful line-up of Entertainment CMOs and Celebrities including Jeff Civilico, Headliner Comedian, Justin Weniger, CEO, Life is Beautiful; Ronn Nicolli, Global Marketing Leader, Wynn Resort Las Vegas, and James Scott, Director of Customer Development, LIGHT Nightclub. Once the party started, celebrity duo Heather Dubrow from Real Housewives of Orange County and popular podcast – Heather Dubrow’s World, along with her husband Terry Dubrow from Botched took the stage, followed by EDM Artist Steve Aoki, who joined IMA for an intimate Q&A on Digital Marketing and the Billion Dollar Millennial Movement. Aoki is a Billboard and World Music Award winning artist who got the entire audience fired up.

Jo-Ann Bloch’s excellent presentation on the collaborative economy kicked off day 2. She focused on the Kardashians and their “collaborative economy” as an example, creating an indelible impression that supported her presentation.

We learned about more plans from the IMA and some additional features and benefits coming up from Victor Cho, CEO of eVite. The core announcement was introduction of the IMA Influencer Circle. Victor then interviewed Dennis Kuhl, CEO of The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Victor started his remarks with “Content is king…”.

A particularly interesting session was given by Tom Ludington, Cayman Islands. The evolution of Internet marketing in the travel industry has been continual, as travel was one of the first products offered online. Tom gave us a view on how the Cayman Islands have used Internet media to promote the Cayman brand.

IMA Vice Chairman Matt Langie took over the keynote stage and presented some important aspects of the IMA to the membership. Matt shared the development of the Certified Internet Marketer program that the IMA has developed and partnered with several large corporations, such as Microsoft.

Symantec Director of EMEA CRM Matt Zumwalt sat down with Langie to discuss the importance of human engagement in the digital sales process. He presented human engagement as the “next marketing evolution,” quoting stats and experience from Symantec’s use of human interaction to build longer term customers and increase customer satisfaction.

Security and privacy were not forgotten, and IMPACT16 attendees were treated to a great discussion by Peter Lopez from Technicolor about the risks of marketing on the Internet in his presentation, “With Greater Accessibility, Comes Greater Exploitability.” Peter focused in the differences between perceived and actual risks in the data explosion we’ve experienced.

The IMA gets involved in many issues that affect its members, and that led to a discussion with Todd Schulte, CEO of FWD.us, about the issues revolving around immigration and its effect on firms trying to obtain the right skill sets while building teams. Todd also introduced us to Sarahi Salamanca, who told a very uplifting story of her own walk through the immigration process.

Recognition of exemplary work has always been part of IMPACT, and this year saw an outstanding class of leading marketers who collected awards for Internet marketing excellence in over 80 categories of individual and company recognition. The winners were honored at a gala awards luncheon.

Kevin Akeroyd from Cision showed us that what is old is new again and tied us all into today’s media. What isn’t changing is that family and friends are still the sources of product information that we trust. He was followed by Matt Anchin of Monster who shared the reinvention of Monster starting in 2013 that focused on brand, reputation and revenue, in that order. Once an Internet pioneer, Monster’s shine had faded, and Matt’s team have focused on content that resonates with their audience.

One of the headlines of the IMPACT conference is the “Startup Battlefield” where early growth companies submit their business plans. The top six appear on the IMPACT stage in a “Shark Tank” style bake-off with genuine venture capitalists.

The “Startup Battlefield” segment started with a success story: a presentation from Joe Manning of Shipt. Joe shared aspects of Shipt’s growth and how it all took place. The case study of a successfully growing business set the stage well for the next round of battlefield competitors.

The battlefield was moderated by Aya Zook of Microsoft Accelerator. He was joined by two other prestigious VCs, Terrence Yang from Yang Venture and Jason Garcia from Silicon Valley Bank. These gentlemen also served as the judges for the competition. We heard presentations from seven start-ups chosen from over 100 entries. In the end, the judges selected Feed.fm as the winner, represented by CMO Lauren Pufpaf. Feed.fm was awarded a prize package including PR representation from leading Internet agency KCOMM, valued at more than $10,000.

One of the most interesting parts of the IMPACT conference is the predictions made by our many thought leaders. Some of the predictions for marketing technology included:

• Real-language queries of analytics, demonstrated by IBM Watson

• Machine generated content: e.g., feed in data and statistics to create a video giving an analysis of the data

• Increased use of podcast and streaming audio for the delivery of targeted content

• Greater granularity of content: creating more and more targeted content aimed at the type of prospect and the stage in the sales journey

• An ever increasing effort to engage customers with Internet marketing: new tools and ways of delivering content to help reach larger audiences with your message

The event was aptly wrapped up with a great concert and dinner featuring No Doubt tribute band “No Duh” and an amazing meal supplied by “The Halal Guys,” who have recently expanded into Las Vegas. Fitting end to a great conference.

Thank you for your attention and interests in advancing our industry.

Sinan Kanatsiz, CIM

Chairman, Internet Marketing Association (IMA), www.imanetwork.org

Save the date – IMPACT17 Cayman is coming – April 27-29, www.impactcayman.com

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