ADOTAS – Last night, Adotas hosted its first industry event of the year, “Adotas Off-Duty: Spring Fling,” at Pranna, a chic Indian restaurant and bar in Manhattan. By all accounts, we showed all our guests a good time, at the risk of sounding overly self-congratulatory. The open bar that kicked it all off was certainly a boon for everyone’s spirits after a long Thursday at work, and we kept it up after we adjourned to a crowded room in the basement for a series of talks about issues affecting businesses, agencies, marketers, networks, publishers and so on. “Ahh, so we’re going down the supply chain,” Brilig CEO Paul Cimino commented to me as we were setting up. Hadn’t thought of that, but it was true: We had David Simon, vice president of advertising solutions for Local Corp., then Acquisio CMO Marc Poirier, then CPX Interactive CRO Jonathan Slavin, each giving a talk about the solutions their companies try to present for pervasive issues. (That’s perhaps not all they gave — Jonathan also gave me a look that I might describe as “genially withering” after I described CPX as “an all-purpose ad network.” He gave me a pass on that one and proceeded to give a fuller explanation, which was good, because Jonathan defies a lot of “tech-world guy” stereotypes and could probably hoist me above his head and throw me across the room like a javelin if he were so inclined.)
All three main speakers covered a lot of ground, cumulatively. In fact, when we opened up the floor for questions after Marc’s talk, the only question was, “Where do you fish?” — a direct reaction to the slides he’d shown depicting himself on fishing excursions. (He answered that, in line with his Quebecois heritage, he fishes in northern Quebec. Looks like the fishing’s good up there.)
We had a lively panel discussion afterwards, which I facilitated and in which Paul, Jonathan, Local senior vice president of sales Tullio Siragusa and Tyler Simmons from Varick Media Management all weighed in on audience buying. Some interesting perspectives: Maybe we’ll be seeing audience data become more compartmentalized. Maybe we’ll see it more localized. (You can guess, out of the four panelists, whose prediction that was.) Maybe there’s no stopping the expansion of data and audience segments. Maybe it’ll start to look more like the offline world. We only really were able to scratch the surface…
After the talks were over and everyone in attendance started mingling and chatting, I found I spent the most time speaking with not the many executives in attendance, but with a two organizers of a film festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, called Willifest (I might be biased, seeing as that’s my neighborhood, but hey), and with a business development guy representing the app Pearescope (which just launched today, and which allows users to see which friends of their Facebook friends are in the immediate vicinity, via GPS — it’s been criticized in some corners as being “creepy,” but hey, it is an opt-in thing, and it only displays the location of other users of the app). The three of them had come to this event for some answers about how to manage online advertising for their respective ventures — a startup and a three-year-old independent festival. And I thought that was really interesting: As the editor of Adotas, I write a lot about ad campaigns that have massive scale, managed by major brands that have access to loads of inventory, the best creative design, expert marketing teams. There’s a lot of money to be spent and a lot of money to be earned in that world. But the question is: How do smaller businesses break in? They naturally can’t monetize on the same scale as a major brand, but they should have access to the same mechanisms of ad distribution. Learning where to start is challenging enough for someone with a business to run, and it’s great to see people from smaller businesses asking questions about how online advertising can work for them in 2012. It’s not an isolated incident. There’s a massive, massive number of folks in that position out there. Their voices are only going to keep getting louder.