Posted by Steve Parker, Jr. (@sparkerjr)
Since 1995, I have attended a number of conferences, probably hundreds (if not a thousand), as well as been a featured speaker or panelist at more than I can count – that’s 16 years worth of listening, talking, networking, handshaking and a lot of mixed drinks. Some conferences have been large with thousands of attendees, and others small with less than a hundred. Many have been very thoughtful and others a complete waste of time.
Recently, I reached out to a number of industry friends and asked them for opinions on their favorite conferences. Below I have combined my feedback with theirs, hence – the Top 10 Conferences for Digital Marketing Professionals. Enjoy.
1. IAB Annual Meeting – IAB meetings are not one of the most specific to a particular segment of digital but do provide a great forum for knowledge about the direction of the entire industry and cover topics from basic media standards to privacy concerns. As Jack Myers told me, “I am not at many conferences, but I do like the IAB annual meeting.” It is well regarded by many in the senior leadership of the industry, and I’d agree that it is a leading knowledge base. Here is a link to a Recap of the last IAB Annual Meeting.
2. SES (Search Engine Strategies) – If you are not attending, or don’t have a few staff attending SES each year, then recapping the learning and trends from the conference throughout your company you are missing the boat. With search commanding the lion share of digital media expenditure – SES is a must attend conference. You’re not responsible for search in your company? So what! You should know how search affects digital media, traditional media and even the operations of a business, and this a great place to start. Go ahead – register for one of the SES Conferences, you can thank me later. P.S. publisher sales representatives trying to sell display and sponsorships – this conference will help you better understand what you are selling against – go!
3. iMedia Agency Brand & Breakthrough Summits – I’ll be frank here. iMedia is really good at scheduling conferences at great resorts that are positioned well away from any outside influence. In other words, if you attend, you will be focused because the debauchery of Vegas, Miami and Austin are a hike and this crew starts early (although there are always those that burn the midnight oil). Not for everyone but one of the best for agencies and publishers to learn, mingle and discuss high interest topics with peers in the industry. Personally the first day of the Agency Summit is always my preferred day – The Aspen Group (Agency Only Attendees). The Aspen Group is a gathering of mostly senior agency leaders from the largest of agencies to the smallest of them, and everything in-between, in a closed-door forum openly discussing opportunities and issues. Special Note: the largest and the smallest agencies all suffer from the same problems. Size has become irrelevant for many of the issues the agency world faces. Here is a link to upcoming iMedia Summits.
4. SIME – Ok, so most of us in the United States tend to have a slightly skewed viewpoint with digital. Yes, of course it is penetrating all countries but at SIME (takes place throughout Europe a few times a year) you can get a great perspective from leaders in digital media the world over. A passionate, knowledge-based, group of speakers and attendees. If you want to change your vantage point a bit – attend. Here is a link to upcoming SIME events.
5. OMMA Metrics – Measurement is key! Nothing in this day and age should come without metrics – nothing. OMMA Metrics will introduce you and/or reacquaint you with the information you need to know in order to measure what you are doing online effectively. Need to tie online to offline – yes, that will be covered too. Get thee to OMMA Metrics.
6. Ad:Tech – It is almost as if Ad:Tech invented the internet. They call themselves “The Event for Digital Marketing!” and they may well be right. Seriously, they have been producing digital media conferences (many of them) for quite a long time. And they are really good at it. A broad range of topics, speakers, workshops and more will keep you engaged for the duration. I have found at times that the content gets a bit stale BUT only if you attend many of them back to back. Otherwise, Ad:Tech is a great resource to the industry. More on Ad:Tech Events.
7. DPAC/DPS – These Digital Publishing & Adverting Conferences and Summits do good job of brining in a vast array of thought leaders in media, publishing and technology. The focus here is on monetization and distribution of content. A clear leader for attendance for those that create and publish digital content. Links to DPAC Events – DPS Events.
8. Seller Forum – Ok, I know some will disagree but if it were not for sales reps the entire industry of digital media would fall flat on it’s face. This is a small albeit great event for sellers of media and services. Honestly, the word on the street is that if you are a seller – this is a must attend event. Network, learn from peers and get strong POV’s on the issues that face the industry and the sales process. It is invite only. Here is the link to the Seller Forum Events.
9. TED – this my be a strange addition to the list but the great thing about TED is that it will take you out of your comfort zone and into an inspiring realm. Yes, some of the topics may not be at all related to digital media, yet the inspiration will guide you in all endeavors and give you tips about how to better communicate your own ideas. TED also does a tremendous job of syndicating their content and providing it in many digital formats. From the TED website, to Apple TV to the iPad App in all honesty you can attend TED from the comfort of your couch, but I’d recommend an in-person attendance – it’s well worth it. Here is a list of TED Conferences & Events.
10. ??? See below ???
What? No SXSW you say? No SF Big, no 212, no BiMA, etc… Well, this your chance. I said this was the Top 10 Conferences for Digital Media Professionals as decided by my very influential peer network – and myself of course. However, I want your thoughts – you decide the 10th. Please provide your feedback section below and list your favorites and I’ll update this list to reflect the 10th.
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