Sympatico MSN Digital Ad Summit 06 – A Huge Success

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My guess is that Sympatico MSN wanted to take a leadership role in the Canadian digital marketing space. Based on the Digital Ad Summit 06 that they put together this past Thursday in Toronto, I would say “mission accomplished.”
Digital Ad Summit 06 was held at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex which is on the CNE grounds. The event started at noon with a luncheon keynote from Bob Garfield. Garfield is the Ad Age critic and author of the book, And Now A Few Words From Me. More importantly, he’s been all over the news because of his Chaos Theory and, in my opinion, one of the best articles on marketing called, Inside The New World Of Listenomics – How The Open Source Revolution Impacts Your Brand. Beyond the clinging of the dishes and people trying to chow down, Garfield’s message was sadly lost on the crowd. Throughout the day, attendees said that his message was too pedestrian and U.S.-centric. Personally, it was an honor to hear him speak in person. For a traditional ad critic guy, he gets where this all going.
After lunch, the three-hundred-plus group of Canadian digital marketing professionals were shuffled into the main room for a full afternoon of presentations. From the very animated Jeff Cole (Director of the newly formed Center for the Digital Future and co-founder/director of the World Internet Project) to Marc Montaldier (Head of Mobile Marketing, Orange France, and the President of the Mobile Marketing Association, France) who gave an engaging overview of the mobile space and the major revenues that are happening in Europe from services like SMS Plus.
After Montaldier, there was a quick presentation from comScore Media Metrix Canada on the state of online advertising in Canada.
Next up was Steve Rubel from Micro Persuasion (he is also a Senior VP at Edelman) who gave the Digital Ad Summit 06 attendees a view of the galaxies and cosmos as a metaphor to why people like Forbidden has close to one million friends on MySpace. Rubel is one of the best in the business. He gets it. Rubel knows how to get people online excited without insulting them. It was a pleasure to see him run through this brave new online world.
Then came Chris Dobson (MSN International’s VP of International Sales and Trade Marketing). With all personal expectations that we had to sit through a thinly veiled sales pitch as a presentation, I was more than thrilled to be wrong. This was not a sales pitch for Sympatico MSN at all. In fact, Dobson turned out to be one of the highlights of the day. He’s clearly someone who has a passion for digital marketing and is helping to forge the Microsoft vision. Touching on everything from Microsoft Live to Microsoft AdCenter, it became abundantly clear that the good folks at Sympatico MSN know what it will take to compete with Google in all out brawl with no rules for ad bucks. Let the games begin.
They always save the best for last. The Regis to my Kelly. The man who wrote one of the only marketing books you must always have at arm’s lengths (Life After The 30-Second Spot). A man who needs no introduction: Joseph Jaffe.
If Digital Ad Summit 06 was hitting homeruns, they cleaned up with Jaffe and his grand-slam (not a bad analogy for someone who has never watched a full game of baseball). Jaffe is a consummate professional and with a title like A World Without Advertising?, you better have the goods to deliver. Jaffe was able to herd the hundreds of people back into their seats (cocktails were being served) and kept-us focused on the edge of our seats with forty-five minutes of riveting calls to actions for marketers (not just the online or digital marketers). I also appreciated the shout-out to check out my Blog.
Along for the amazing day were fellow Bloggers and buddies Ken Schafer from One Degree, Bill Sweetman of Sweetmantra and One Degree, Mark Evans and Stuart MacDonald (who are quickly becoming known as the Mesh Guys) and even Kate Trgovac of My Name Is Kate (who I did not get a chance to meet).
A special thanks to Patrick and Nathalie for being superb hosts and a mind-blowing day.