ADOTAS – Just because Affiliate Summit East 2011 is finished doesn’t mean the party’s over. Right on the heels of the biggest affiliate marketer gathering on the East Coast comes LeadsCon, offering lead-gen specialists the chance to network with not just their peers but a wealth of tech firms exploring brave new digital worlds.
At a pre-conference VIP meetup sponsored by Ifrah Law (partner David B. Deitch suggests I check out the law firm’s FTC Beat blog) at Brassiere 8 1/2, just south of Central Park, LeadsCon and Daily Deal Summit founder Jay Weintraub (and Adotas contributor) is beaming, working the room like a champ and introducing various parties who will be speaking over the next two days at the Hilton New York. The stress of assembling the massive conference has been purged from his system and he’s soaking in the moment
“This is what we live for,” he said. “When the work comes together and everything is perfect.”
He explains that LeadsCon is about breaking the oft-times introverted lead-generation space out of its shell to its relevance across the digital ecosystem. The VIP mixer has the goal of bringing thought leaders across the interactive marketing space together to discuss perspectives — it’s a relaxed atmosphere without any pressure of constant pitching.
I fall into conversation with LeadsCon speaker Vivek Sharma, CEO and cofounder of the buzz-worthy Movable Ink. His company has developed real-time dynamic content capabilities for email, including post-send updating. Imagine receiving an email with a coupon that changes depending on the time of day — for restaurants a lunch special could morph into a dinner special as the hours passed. Imagine an email signature that always features your latest tweet.
Just how they do this Sharma won’t share — “It’s our special sauce,” he said with a smile.
Movable Ink has generated a lot of interest — clients include DailyCandy and the recently acquired GroupMe, and Business Insider named the company one of the 25 hottest startups. Cofounder and CTO Michael Nutt recently participated in the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon and received the Big Winner trophy by Stephen Colbert (yes, really) for his entry in DonorsChoose’s Hacking Education contest.
Lead-gen service and gaming site Free Awesome Founder Jeremy Avin, whose company shares space with Movable Ink in startup incubator General Assembly, further enthused about the marketing prospects of Movable Ink. “I know they created this technology for the greater good, but there’s lots of money to be made in digital marketing,” he said.
The two also chatted about the innovation nucleus that is General Assembly. Located near the Flatiron Building in Manhattan, the 20,000 square-foot office building that is not only home to startups like Art.sy and daily deal aggregator Yipit but also an education center with tech workshops — next Monday a New York Times representative is coming in to speak about using the NYTimes.com API.
I forgot to ask if Avin and Sharma had run into Jenn Sterger, host of “Box or No Box,” a new program from General Assembly spacemate YouAre.tv. If you don’t remember, Sterger was the recipient of Brett Farve’s naughty and unwanted text messages with pics.
After topping off my wine, I run into Rob Leathern, CEO of XA.net, who just made waves with a presentation at SES San Francisco that showed the flaws of Facebook’s new Zip code targeting. On his smartphone he shows me a picture of the Midwest with pockets of purple that represent areas where Facebook’s user numbers are much larger than the Census Department’s population report.
We end up at a table with executives from insurance lead generator QuoteWizard, who explain that the insurance realm is quite different from education, the focus of their former company World Class Strategies, which was acquired and renamed EducationDynamics. While there are a dozen or so major education leads buyers, QuoteWizard works with thousands of insurance agents, which requires a massive call center staff.
“The lead value may be less than education,” comments Chief Operating Officer Rob Peyree, “but the client base is a lot bigger.”
Somehow we get into a discussion of the arbitrary nature of Facebook’s ad policy — I shake my head and recall Facebook’s ridiculous pulling of a marijuana decriminalization ad campaign last year (after running 38 million impressions), saying it violated the social network’s anti-smoking ban. Similarly, developer Michael Lee Johnson was banned from Facebook advertising a few months ago after he posted a Facebook ad highlighting his Google+ account. These stories received press, but they illustrate a larger trend of Facebook changing its advertising rules on a whim and jerking around marketers in the middle of campaigns.
However, someone else suggested that Google’s practices in this department were just as wishy-washy. That begs the question — who is more of a pain in the ass to advertise through, Facebook or Google? Share your thoughts below.