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.