Day 1 - Variety Summit - 3/12/99
Below is a special mailing to The Online Advertising
Discussion List about the Variety Summit,
written by Ann Handley, editor-in-chief of The ClickZ
Network. You will receive these reports in addition to your
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Variety Summit: Day 1
Editor in Chief
The ClickZ Network
The growing pervasiveness of the Internet is not strictly
about the evolution of technology. It's really about the
birth of a whole new industry... and a new way of doing
That was the bottom line from AOL President Bob Pittman, who
kicked off the first day of the Variety Interactive
Marketing Summit in Palm Springs yesterday. The three-day
event, organized by Digitrends (http://www.digitrends.net),
aims to outline the vision for the entertainment industry.
The ultimate goal, of course, is to bring more marketing and
advertising dollars this way.
Admittedly, day one was a little light on content - maybe
not for entertainment industry types who aren't so very
familiar with the web space, but at least for seasoned
conference-goers. After a day of golf and Jeep tours
Wednesday, Pittman kicked the content portion of the
conference resoundingly. But the three ensuing panels lacked
focus and punch, often crossing the line into sales pitches.
Did it matter? Well... you still have to love these events
organized by Digitrends: These guys really understand that
the value of industry shows doesn't come solely from the
speakers at the podium.
If you've followed ClickZ's conference coverage, you know
Pittman to be an inspiring, eloquent and energetic speaker.
(We covered his talks at Jupiter
He's an evangelist of the highest order: When he's on the
stage, Pittman gets the audience pumped up that they are in
the Internet space. He makes advertisers want to spend more
money, he makes site publishers feel good inside. When
Pittman finally descends the podium, the room is nearly
embraced in one big warm and fuzzy group hug.
How can it not be? Pittman trots out statistics like these:
* Nearly half of online consumers say that being online is
just about a necessity in their lives.
* More than three-quarters of consumers who go online say
that being online has made their lives better in some way.
* When asked if they would want a telephone, television or a
computer connected to the Internet if they were stranded
on a desert island, more than two-thirds of online
consumers would want the Internet connection.
Such stats are a beautiful thing, indeed. Now be honest...
aren't you practically teary-eyed?
Pittman sees evidence everywhere that the online experience
is indeed becoming increasingly part of the fabric of so
many lives. The number of AOL subscribers is booming, and
the amount of time they spend online is increasing. "If
usage starts high and goes low, you've got a fad; you've got
a hula-hoop," Pittman said. "But when it starts high and
goes higher, it's becoming a necessity."
What's most significant about the online evolution is that
it is moving increasingly mainstream. It's no longer the
technology "aficionados" who are spurring the growth; it's
the mass market. "The Internet has arrived," Pittman said.
"It is mass market. This is not in its test phase."
Increasingly, those mainstream users are looking for brand
and convenience online, both of which "are the driving force
in every consumer product category," Pittman said.
"Consumers are brand-buyers. And convenience is king."
Pittman has said it before, and he reminded the audience
again, that the microwave does not cook food better - in
fact, it cooks far worse - but it is convenient. And while
Coke failed the taste-test and VHS is not the best video
format, both of those brands nevertheless are winners in
So those activities that are more convenient to perform
online - like chat and shopping, for example - will
ultimately dominate the experience. Other things - like
watching TV - will take a back seat in the online
environment, he believes. "There's already a broadband
device that plays steaming video - it's called TV," Pittman
But one thing online does extremely well, in Pittman's view,
is to improve and streamline the selling process. Online, he
said, is an "active medium" which handles every stage of the
sales process with incredible efficiency: It gets your
attention, answers potential questions, and transacts
effectively and efficiently. "It's not just about
advertising," Pittman said. "It's the other two pieces as
"Advertising as a discreet function no longer works. It's
soup to nuts," he added.
You've Got Publicity!
So what was the real value for AOL of You've Got Mail, the
Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie that has their characters carrying
on a love affair via email?
Bob Pittman said that the ultimate value transcended the
more obvious benefit of having the AOL brand playing before
the eyeballs of millions of movie fans. The real benefit, he
said, was in the fact that You've Got Mail is the first
movie that does not treat online like it's "something weird.
"It is treated as something that is simply part of life, and
accepted as such," he said. "I mean, people don't get on the
telephone and say, 'Wow! Can you believe we are talking over
wires?!...' It really told us where are at."
Bandwidth Truth Squad
Yes...bigger pipes are coming to deliver more content, more
advertising and more graphics over the Net, more quickly and
more smoothly than ever. But here's the truth, according to
Arlen Communications President Gary Arlen:
1. Broadband will take longer than you think. "The 12- to
18-month rollout timetables [currently projected] are
fantasyland," Arlen said.
2. It'll cost a lot... probably $40 to $100/month for the
average consumer to access.
3. Customers are apprehensive. "They aren't sure where
broadband fits in," Arlen said.
The good news, however, is that the consumer demand for
smoother and quicker delivery does exist, the technologies
are improving, and companies are rushing to come to the
market as quickly, as cheaply, and with as much value-added
services as they can, Arlen said.
You know these Hollywood creative types... they are always on
the cutting edge. So maybe it was the environment alone that
inspired speakers to spawn these phrases at the podium:
"skepthusiast" - Gary Arlen's term for a fervent skeptic
"viewser" - Brian Seth Hurst's word for users in a
"platform agnostic" - Hurst's description of a philosophy
that doesn't discount any player in the interactive game
Quotes of the Day
"When you have 125 channels, surfing doesn't work anymore.
By the time I find a show I want to watch, it's over." - Bob
Pittman, President, AOL
"Unconstrained bandwidth is the ability to access brand any
time, on any platform." - Brian Seth Hurst, Vice President,
"It's not about impressions....it's about time spent." - Bob
"I'm not too sure that in between narrowband and broadband
there isn't something called 'midband,'" William Swegles,
"People buy relevance. They buy lifestyle. They buy
community." - Brian Seth Hurst
"Interruptions aren't effective. Interaction is." - Bob
Pittman, describing the difference between a consumer's
interaction with TV and online
"TV will look more like the web, rather than the web looking
more like TV." - Sarah Lesch, Vice President, E! Online,
predicting the future of convergence on both mediums
"Bandwidth is coming. The web itself is the killer app that
will lead demand." - Chris Swain, Head of Production, R/GA
"Gratuitous use of technology is not the point of rich
media." - Suzanne Brisendine, Director of Interactive
Marketing Programs, Intel
"It's not just about content, it's about context." - Bob
Pittman, in describing how advertising can have the most
impact when it's in the right context
"I really don't think interactivity is novelty." - Suzanne
Brisendine, responding to attendee Darien Heyman's question
of whether higher click-through rates for rich media is
attributable to its novelty in the market
Tchotchke of the Day
It's clear that Hollywood hasn't truly embraced the web.
Otherwise, the trade show floor wouldn't have been as barren
as the Palm Springs desert. There were a handful of the
typical trinkets: post-it notes, plastic cups and tote bags.
But a surprising number of vendors were tchotchke-poor,
making the only clear winner FasTV(http://www.fastv.com),
which handed out branded black mock turtlenecks and matching
FasTV was nearly upstaged by the guerilla tchotchke tactics
of Lynda Keeler, VP and General Manager of Columbia Tristar
Interactive, who thrust small round tins of branded breath
mints into our hands. No...Columbia isn't an exhibitor. But
you have to admire her initiative for at least an honorable
mention in the tchotchke award category.
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Received on Fri Mar 12 1999 - 20:51:57 CST
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