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IAB Conference Report

By - February 23, 2009

Last year at this time I posted on the IAB conference, the first of its kind (I am on the IAB Board). It’s interesting to see what has happened in a year. First off, the conference moved from Scottsdale to Orlando, which I must admit is not my favorite city but does handle conferences well. Second, despite the very deep recession, the conference was sold out, and folks actually came, about 500 or so. The crowd is good, and while it’s not a party, it has the feeling of comrades in arms, which honestly we could all use more of these days.

And third, the content, for the most part, is pretty darn good. (Even, I hope, my panel on social media, which I really enjoyed and learned a lot while running).

Last year, the talk of the conference was the Yahoo/Microsoft deal, and whether Jerry Yang, who was slated to speak, would cancel due to it. He showed, with his then-president Sue Decker, but they gave a presentation on Yahoo’s publishing strategy that was muddy and left many scratching their heads (including me: Yahoo Is Opening Up, But What’s The Big Vision?).

This year Microsoft’s Scott Howe took the stage and presented his vision of how Microsoft will work with publishers, and the early results are that he was pretty convincing, though he’ll have to prove his plan with some real actions. (BTW, Howe, who is also speaking at our CM Summit in June, is becoming a dead ringer for a younger Steve Ballmer in many ways). Today Microsoft announced a new partnership with major web publishers, the very kind that it seems Yahoo was trying to bring on last year. In short, Microsoft plans to work with major publishers to build a next generation ad platform. Hmm, sounds familiar. Exactly what Sue Decker promised us last year.

But the best part of the presentation came in an anecdote. Howe was imploring the audience of mostly publishers to “not let others take the value” that those publishers created with their premium content. I happened to be standing next to David Rosenblatt, President of Display at Google. “Who do you think he’s talking about?” I asked him jokingly. David shrugged and grinned, but was clearly not happy with the role of Bad Guy. Not to worry, David, we know you’re one of the good ones….and David gets to take his revenge when he takes the stage tomorrow. Alas, I will not be there to see it, as I have to get back to SF for meetings, but I’ll be following the action on Twitter, hashtag #iabnet.

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5 thoughts on “IAB Conference Report

  1. Looks like a pretty good conference overall and plenty of biz getting taken care of already… As for the last part about MSFT and working with top publishers, I don’t know about that or how it would work — I sure hope it’s true but very skeptical of this latest announcement.

    We need more competition in this space for the little guys too. The YPN (yahoo’s publisher network) sucks. AdSense is a monopoly and the alternatives; AdBrite, etc… Nothing to get excited about. Waste of time for the most part.

    Lets see what the rest of 2009 brings in this space…

    Mike

  2. nmw says:

    Good ideas, John! :D

    I think you wrote a while back (can’t remember exactly where right now – might not matter, either) that “we’re all publishers now”. In this context, we all become search engines, we all become providers of information. Even goods and services themselves to some degree contain information.

    So to follow up on this, I suggest delving deeper into sich questions as “what is a publisher?”, “what is an advertiser?”, “what is a product?, service?, etc.?”.

    I just posted a new blog post (kind of in response to what I heard being tweeted @iab / #iabnet: http://gaggle.info/post/152/how-to-measure-language ), but I feel much more ground breaking was an earlier post of mine (titled “On the Web, It’s Freedom 2, Publishing 0″: http://gaggle.info/post/141/on-the-web-its-freedom-2-publishing-0 ). The newer post is more about keyword search, the older post is more about traditional/print vs. online publishing — but both of the two are, of course, closely related (what you often refer to as the “command line” and/or “search box”).

    BTW: Also interested to hear more about your Q&A @SMX!

    :) nmw

  3. JG says:

    Howe was imploring the audience of mostly publishers to “not let others take the value” that those publishers created with their premium content. I happened to be standing next to David Rosenblatt, President of Display at Google. “Who do you think he’s talking about?” I asked him jokingly. David shrugged and grinned, but was clearly not happy with the role of Bad Guy. Not to worry, David, we know you’re one of the good ones….and David gets to take his revenge when he takes the stage tomorrow.

    Do you mean Rosenblatt personally is one of the good ones, or that Google itself is one of the good ones?

    I’m sure Rosenblatt is a great guy on a personal level. But there are some of us who believe that wrapping everything with advertising does take the value out of premium content. Imagine going to the movie theatre and having a Google sidebar with a continually-refreshing relevant set of ads on the right hand side of the screen, throughout the whole movie. “Oh, it’s ok, because it’s separate from the organic movie content,” Google would say. Ha. Right.

    As a “user”, this is where it feels like our society is heading. And I don’t see the value.

  4. JG, David is a great guy, and yes, I meant he is one of the good ones. Google I think is and will continue to experiment everywhere, and will pull back when stuff is just not working…I think the movie example will be one place that won’t work!

  5. JG says:

    Thanks for the clarification, John!

    I guess my larger concern is not so much all the places where it won’t work. My concern is all the places where it will. Because when it does show the slightest chance of working, it’ll suddenly appear everywhere. And we’ll be inundated.

    By analogy: High fructose corn syrup was shown to work for sweetening food. And now it’s everywhere. Not only is it in our soft drinks, but also in most of the bread that you get from your average grocery store, most of the ice cream, etc. You just can’t escape it. Even though nutritionally it’s very poor. It works well at giving people that sweet taste, and it’s cheap, so it has taken over.

    And that’s what I’m concerned about. I look at advertising the same way. It works, just like corn syrup works. But at the end of the day, when it becomes ubiquitous, I question the sort of society that we’re creating.