Notes from the Interactive Marketing Summit

June 2nd, 2008

Lesson one: blog about an event straight afterwards, otherwise it’ll take ages! Which is my backhanded way of saying sorry for the delay in giving this summary of Brightstar ’s first ever Interactive Marketing Summit in Auckland last week.

For blow-by-blow analysis, see the post Michael Brandon from Searchmasters liveblogged during the conference. At least, as long as his laptop battery lasted! See our interview with Michael .

UPDATED 16 July 2008: Throng ’s Regan Cunliffe has also posted a feisty response to some of the subjects covered at the summit . Look out for an upcoming Jump In interview with Regan.

I’ll do this backwards, starting with the overall themes, and then diving into the individual insights from each speaker.


  • Thinking in your customers’ shoes is really important on two levels, SEO – choosing the key words your customers would use to find you, and in terms of usability – what overall experience are your customers having through your website?
  • Return On Investment and branding are both really important, and both misunderstood. Some like Tom Osborne from APN Digital and Paul Webster from Google decried interactive advertising’s seemingly sole focus on direct response, saying there’s a lot of evidence to show online is a powerful branding tool, too. Meanwhile, Jon Ostler from First Rate said that can wait, we need to switch on to the return on investment opportunities first – online advertising is being underused. Branding, he says, comes from a well-designed website that provides a good experience. Good point.
  • Going forward from that, there was a general focus on getting marketers into an ROI mindset, rather than just operating out of habit (TVC’s anyone?)
  • Marketers were encouraged to embrace both "hard" skills such as data analytics, and "soft" skills like psychology and ethnography. They’re both important – and my key takeaway is that "Conversation is a form of ROI ". You can drill deep into the numbers, and you can simply listen to what your customers are saying to you.
  • I heard the word "should" a lot during this summit, and reflected just how hard it is to be a marketer today. You’re being pressed to be more accountable by your boards and CEOs, as well as your customer. This means there’s a really strong need to know a little about a lot, and to form solid partnerships with trusted advisors in specific areas. An example – iJump is focused on social media, which we define as blogging, podcasting, online video and social networking. We know about areas like SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), but we wouldn’t take on a full SEO campaign ourselves.
  • Lastly, there were a lot of "believers" in the power of interactive marketing. A key issue was getting buy-in from top management. Marketers have to do an internal sales job. This summit gave them a lot of stats but more importantly a lot of stories to sell new ideas into their organisations. This message came through strongly in two very different presentations from Tim Norton of PlanHQ (see our interview with him ) – an entrepreneur by any definition – and Scott Giles of Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat programme , an intrapreneur in a very large organisation. Although Scott and Tim have very different personalities, the energy these guys had was infectious, and I hope many attendees picked up some ideas to put into practice in their organisation.

Overall, marketers’ jobs are both harder and easier .

Harder , because there are more formulae to learn, more numbers to measure, and more information to stay on top of.

Easier , because once you master the new systems and mindsets, you’re able to absorb new information faster and more effectively.


Okay, here are some specific notes from each speaker. If I’d had my wits about me I would’ve taken a picture of each speaker, but you’ll just have to imagine what they look like :)

Bernard Hickey, managing editor,

  • Google is the internet deity : all-seeing, all-knowing, all good. (We hope so, anyway!)
  • The publishing model is changing. Consumers don’t just want to read the news, they want to interact with it.
  • Broadband – particularly when it’s delivered via WiFi – is weaning us off TV. Everyone has their own online channel now.
  • The meaning of "local" has changed. It used to mean a physical neighbourhood; now it means my circle of friends, whether they’re in the same city or across the world.
  • Time spent on site should be a consideration when booking online advertising.

Paul Webster, Senior Sales Manager, Google NZ

  • Paul covered a great deal of stuff. These are only the highlights.
  • Paid and organic search can be used together to boost response and also brand awareness, intention to buy, and brand advocacy
  • 4 basic paid search strategies: defend/maintain market share, win new market share, expand into new markets, and testing keyword combinations to find the most effective.
  • Great example of online and offline working together: this Pontiac ad with the call to action "Google Pontiac". (Which means 2 things: 1- Google is okay that they’re a verb now, and 2- Pontiac is very confident in their brand and their SEO.
  • Different keywords will attract customers at different parts of the sales process. Generic keywords (eg shoes, airlines) will get people at the early, information-gathering stage. Brand-specific keywords (eg Zappos, Air New Zealand) will get you more qualified traffic. Both are important.
  • You can choose specific times of day to run your search advertising. Lunch time is the new prime time.
  • Trademark owners can register their brand names for free with Google to avoid brand hijack. Google UK has recently stopped doing this, but Paul didn’t know much about why or what the likely results would be.
  • Google has a huge learning centre online for advertisers. I think it starts here . Or, as Paul recommended, just Google "Google learning centre".
  • Skill sets needed for search advertising success: good writing, creativity, understanding of business objectives.

Thomas Scovell , Senior Product Manager and Account Manager, Shift

  • Thomas gave a brilliant presentation that drew on his academic background in philosophy and psychology
  • In a nutshell: marketing as we know it is a construct of the last century or so. Markets, on the other hand, have been around for thousands of years.
  • Interactive is not the same as online/digital. Truly interactive is "letting customers into the heart of your business"
  • Apparently, more people attend the Sunday morning farmers market in Wellington than attend church.
  • In markets (as opposed to marketing) the sale was merely the exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. The rest was conversation and relationship.
  • Markets 2.0 isn’t about consumers completely bypassing corporates. But it is changing.
  • "Listen. Measure. Respond."
  • "Why" is more important than "how".
  • At the farmer’s market, the farmers let you taste the fruit. How can your customers "taste your fruit"?
  • Where they get Markets 2.0 quickly = developing countries. They are closer to the original model of markets.

Yours truly – Simon Young

  • In a nutshell … our consumers are now our competitors in terms of developing brands and delivering messages. I call it Generation C . More information here , here and here .

Jon Ostler, managing director, First Rate

  • There are so many things you can measure online, but what metrics are really important?
  • Some possibles: conversion rate (online conversions only? or somehow measure offline conversions?)… time spent on site … repeat visits … specific pages viewed (eg contact) … registration/paid subscription … purchases … profit … life time value.

Jacqui Jones , Marketing Manager, NetConcepts

  • Some great examples of the need to proactively manage your online reputation
  • Some KPIs to measure: search result pages … inbound links … pagerank score … hotness of topic (of sites linking to us) … there’s a great service called Touchgraph which maps link relationships.

Tom Osborne, Commercial Director, APN Digital Media

  • Tom’s biggest bugbear is the lack of acceptance of the ability of online to deliver branding.
  • Excuses for not going online: I don’t sell online, my audience aren’t online, I don’t trust online. It’s all bollocks.
  • KFC have advertised on without any click-through call to action. Instead, they’re placing display ads on at particular times of day to make people think of KFC and encourage them to pick some up. Yum!
  • When Tom was at Yahoo! before joining APN, they did some research with AUT university and found that 83% of people researched purchases online, and 60% purchased online.
  • The same study found that 62% of people rate the internet more highly trusted than mainstream media for product recommendations. Interesting!

Tim Norton, founder,

(see our interview with Tim here )

  • Tim shared his lessons learnt in launching an online product with virtually no marketing budget.
  • Validate the idea first. PlanHQ began life as an idea and a series of screenshots. Those screenshots gathered 300 email addresses, and the team knew they were onto something, at minimal expense.
  • Go Beta – shrink your grand vision into something that can be built in a few weeks. Make rapid changes. Get it right incrementally.
  • Identify the key phrases you want to be top of. PlanHQ couldn’t compete on "business plan software", but they did do well on "online business plan".
  • Write 3-6 key articles on your topic, and drive traffic towards those articles.

Scott Giles, Online Performance Specialist, Air New Zealand

  • Grabaseat has been a great source of innovation and experimentation within Air New Zealand.
  • It was the brainchild of the CEO, Rob Fife. The aim was to create the habit of customers coming back to the Grabaseat website.
  • It’s worked. Some people even have Grabaseat as their homepage, while others print out the day’s specials and put them on the staff noticeboard.
  • Staff are made into Grabaseat ambassadors.
  • Work with partners. Air New Zealand partnered with TVNZ, which you might expect from a corporate, but they also partnered with viral singing sensation Wing , producing her first ever music video.
  • Of most interest was how the Grabaseat team are almost ringfenced off from the rest of Air NZ, acting as a startup within a large corporate.

Mauricio Freitas , Publisher, Geekzone

(See our interview with Mauricio here )

  • Mauricio took us through an innovative campaign for Microsoft, where Geekzone bloggers blogged about a new Microsoft product – without being vetted by Microsoft, and without any restrictions on what they said.
  • It was courageous, but Microsoft were more willing than their ad agency to go ahead and embrace the unknown.
  • Campaign target was exceeded within the first month, and the blogs are still sending an increasing amount of traffic to Microsoft’s product page.
  • All in all, a win-win-win-win solution. Geekzone gets paid, bloggers get links back to their own blogs, Microsoft gets links to its new product, readers get independent editorial.


In between sessions, we were also treated to some fantastic viral videos. Here they are:

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Microsoft’s intranet 2.0

December 5th, 2007


From a trainer’s point of view the most frustrating tool I’ve worked with is a “static” intranet. This intranet was updated from time to time by the Managing Director’s personal assistant (company will remain unnamed). If the trainers or staff couldn’t understand the content or wanted to update the intranet, they had to jump through hurdles to do it. They would see a supervisor, manager then finally reach the PA. And if that wasn’t enough they had to explain why the changes were needed. Remember, the PA isn’t dealing with the customers it’s the frontline staff.

The intranet was vital to the frontline staff of this company. They couldn’t confirm anothing to the customer unless verified by the intranet. Yet changes, when needed, weren’t fast enough. How do you think the employees felt?

Your employees are your top clients. Get this right and they will run with your vision and go the extra mile to create a long lasting customer experience. I’ve seen many companies say what they’re about to their external clients while their employees mock the message behind their backs. Why? because they know what you’re really like.

But some companies are discovering different ways of working. Microsoft created Academy Mobile to connect and share their employees’ knowledge across 80,000 staff in their US headquarters, not to mention the rest of the world.

Paolo Tosolini, New Media Business Manager at Microsoft, created a social media platform available to all Microsoft employees to share knowledge, best practices using videocasts or podcasts. I want to share with you some points gleaned as I listened to Paolo’s interview with Neville Sheltz and Shel Holtz 

  • Since launching Academy mobile in July 2007, Microsoft employees have downloaded 20,000 podcasts to their mobile phones
  • Why mobile phones? Microsoft has found their employees are mobile and don’t have a lot of time to sit and watch an hour web conference (which had been trialled) earlier
  • Through the podcasts, different departments started to ask each other what their best practises were in their field
  • Employees were encouraged to present their innovative ideas to their peers and once everyone voted on the best outcome. They pitched it to the executive team
  • The sales department started to disclose executive communications, technical training, marketing presentations, most of all competitive analysis to the rest of the company
  • Microsoft also invited their partners to present a 5 minute message about how their services fit in the BIG picture. This was something employees wouldn’t of known about

Paolo and his team are amazed at how quickly employees are using this social media platform since launching in July, but their work is cut out for them next year. 

Inspired? What can you start today? What can you plan for 2008?

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Ignorants anonymous

November 14th, 2007

Ignorance of how to use technology is the guilty secret of many Gen Xers in management, according to our latest guest on the iJump video podcast, Paul Reynolds.

Marie interviewed Paul in our Auckland offices yesterday. Their “10 minute interview” went for about 45 minutes. But it was all good stuff, and in due time you’ll be seeing it in bite-sized chunks.

With five interviews under our belts now, and some more scheduled for next week, it’s probably about time we got them up and running on the web. Stay tuned… !

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Wise dinosaur

October 31st, 2007

Watch this space for the iJump show. The iJump show is a video podcast showcasing marketers’ & consumers’ opinions about how they use social media in their personal lives and in their organisations.

My first guest was Keith Norris Chief Executive from Marketing Association. He was funny and refreshing despite being a self proclaimed dinosaur. There’s something about being given permission to ask questions. I find it liberating and enjoyable because you never know what we’ll learn about the person and how they perceive the world.

It’s a dream to talk to people about social media and get opinions. Afterall our opinions matter. Who’s listening? Can we afford not to? Marketers are now facing more media channels than ever before. They’ll eventually get their hands on our demographic and psychographic data through the many social media sites like facebook, myspace, bebo that we’re part of. And guess who’s driving this? You and me.

Tomorrow I talk with Toby Hilless Chief Manager Retail Marketing at ASB.

p.s if you want to be interviewed on iJump send us an email at marie [at]

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