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Online Publishers’ OPA Summit 2012

The Online Publishers’ Association got together in Miami this week for its 10th annual executive summit. Here were some of the highlights for me.

This guy:

Among the many things I love about Rishad Tobaccowala: He can get in front of a roomful of big-media publishers, tell them content isn’t king (“or queen or emperor”), that the proof is in the fact that publicly-traded media companies have lost 70% of their market value in the past decade, and still get louder applause than any speaker all day.

To honor the OPA’s tenth anniversary, he took a look back at how well this group saw into the future of media — back at that first OPA Summit. “We got the ingredients right,” he said, pointing out that John Battelle and Jeff Jarvis presented on the emerging influence of user-generated content, blogging and search in 2002 and 2003. But there was almost no talk back then about the four companies that are most important to today’s publishers: Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

It’s hard, he conceded, to predict where your competition will come from. When Apple entered the smartphone market, it was bad news for Nokia. But who would have guessed the iPhonee would also emerge as stiff competition for Nintendo, Nikon and Navtek?

Matt Freeman, chief innovation officer at McCann Erickson, asked: Why have agencies lost their influence in the business world? Why don’t agency execs sit on their clients’ boards like they did before the Great Depression? Partly, Freeman argues, it’s that their business models have incentivized bad behavior. Charging a commission based on media budgets encouraged wasteful spending, and charging by the hour rewarded agencies for solving problems slowly. The break up of agencies into creative shops, media buying shops and strategy consulting shops is another part of the problem. Strategy and creative have lost touch with media producers — the people who gather consumers into audiences. Publishers need to spend more time with agency creatives, and vice versa.

Fun fact: Dr Suess started his career at McCann drawing art for ads, such as this one for Flit mosquito lotion.

Next up: Linda Descano at Citi called 2011 the “Summer of Like.” Ok, great. Now we have zillions of Likes, what do we do with them? Benjamin Palmer, founder and CEO of the Barbarian Group had a bunch of answers. His shop is helping brands create compelling, frequent content for social media channels. In GE’s case, they’re taking photos of heavy equipment and jet engines, running them through Instagram filters, and pushing them out to a Tumblr blog. Check out all the comments, retweets and Likes before you say corporations can’t bring an authentic, engaging voice to social media.

From my own six minutes on stage (OK, OK, Pam Horan! It was six-and-a-half minutes!), two stats garnered the most interest. At least if the twitterers in the room were representative. 1) Ten percent of the photos taken by humankind were taken in the past 12 months (source), and 2) Google estimates there are somewhere north of 3 trillion images online. Outside discussions of the federal debt, I guess, you just don’t get to use the word trillion that often.

Jason Cavnar, CEO of Singly, introduced a provocative thought: In the future identity will become a paid service. My interpretation: The premium online publishers in the room should put less energy into paywalls and more effort into understanding the real monetary value of audience-data-as-currency. (And the rest of us should spend some time considering how much personal data we currently hand over to websites and ad networks, free of charge.) He also sees a near-future for advertising that’s greatly impacted by HTML5: Forget the crap we mostly put inside 300×250 banners, “turn them into storefronts for brands and newsstands for publishers.”

Moat’s Jonah Goodheart offered a breath of fresh air amid the smog of hyperactive audience targeting by the DSPs: Context matters more than clicks. He cited an example of a wealth management firm canceling an ad campaign with a premium business publication because the click-through rate was low. I’m trying to imagine 1) having enough money that I need a wealth manager, and then 2) clicking on a banner, entering my newfound $8 million dollars into a web form, and hitting Submit. (Here’s who clicks on ad banners.)

My two favorite quotes of the day came from Liberty Media’s Michael Zeisser. First, a summation of his years as a consultant: “I spent 13 years at McKinsey hunting for synergies, and I never found any.” And a word about punditry: “It’s easy to predict the future, unless you have to live the with the consequences.” True enough.

Boot Dermocare and McCann Create Racy Ads for Thailand, Coverage is Global

Here’s a print ad for Boot Dermocare created by McCann Bankok, ostensibly designed for audiences in Asia, and presumably too racy for American magazine readers. (Censorship courtesy of the ChasNote design team; full version below.)

Boot Dermocare Knees Ad, Censored

Predictably, a wide range of US and UK advertising sites republished the ad. Is that the intent? Give North American and European brands and agencies plausible deniability (“Oh dear! That wasn’t us! That smut was created by a distant subsidiary when we weren’t looking!”), while at the same time providing them, through the magic of social media, a global audience for their more eye-catching if controversial creative? (BK is king of this practice.) Sneaky but smart.

Meanwhile, here’s the full version. You thought what?! Those are her toes!

Boot Dermocare Uncensored

(Hat tip to Nicole Williams, who as far as I can gather is the world’s leading authority on NSFW advertising creative.)

Bacardi, Groove Armada Unveil New Music Distribution Model

Bacardi B-Live

If you don’t like the way the labels treat you, get a sponsor. Groove Armada did Transporter 3 movie .

“The album release highlights an eight month first-of-its-kind collaboration between the premium rum brand and the music group. In April, Bacardi announced a ground-breaking global music agreement with Groove Armada. Groove Armada side-stepped music industry tradition and worked with Bacardi in touring, recording, producing BACARDI B-LIVE — the global experiential marketing program, B-LIVE radio shows and nurturing new talent.”

(Thanks to Ali and Rick at McCann and the Bacardi crew for tapping FM’s music and hipster sites to promote the deal!)Ultraviolet movies

FM and Microsoft Launch CrowdFire Music Site

Today, in partnership with Microsoft, FM launched music-oriented social media site CrowdFire.

CrowdFire

From MediaWeek:

“In conjunction with the launch CrowdFire, the companies have announced that several kiosks will be placed at the upcoming Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco, Calif. on Aug. 22-24, where attendees will be able to produce and upload their own video, audio and text accounts of the events, in what will serve as a mass test run for the new site. During the event, video screens will display a real time ‘mashup’ of the crowd-produced content.”

Mediaweek breaks Crowdfire news

William Morris Execs Create 'Agency 3.0'

From Ad Age.

“Hollywood’s oldest talent shop, the 110-year-old William Morris Agency, is partnering with a triumvirate of digital media, wireless and advertising executives to create a joint venture called Agency 3.0, a digital-marketing-services company seeking to marry digital technology to strategically developed content….

“In an interview with Ad Age, Mr. Johnson said TV advertising ‘is becoming less effective,’ in part because ‘it’s highly disconnected from the creative process.

“His partners’ new venture aims to ‘bring the ad dollars that much closer to the creative process,’ Mr. Johnson said.

Smart idea and an impressive team. I bet, though, they will come to regret that name.

Intel, PopURLs Partner on PopURLs Blue Edition

Intel has underwritten the launch of a version of PopURLs dedicated to enterprise IT content, PopURLs Blue. Another great example of Intel’s strategy to sponsor product enhancements at existing third-party brands that already reach their customers, like the launch of Digg Images, Digg’s Arc visualization widget, and a better music experience for My Space members.

PopURLs Blue Edition

Boing Boing Explains How Publications Take Ads Without Compromising Editorial

Coinciding with the launch of a new sponsorship program on Boing Boing (Microsoft’s sponsorship of mobile posts), Boing Boing founder and editor Mark Frauenfelder explains how his site can accept ads without corrupting the site’s editorial integrity. Turns out, the approach at Boing Boing is a lot like the approach at NY Times, the BBC and CNN.

Mark Frauenfelder Explains

Silicon Alley Insider Scoops YouTube's Semi-Secret Ad Party (Map Included)

Silicon Alley Insider, another site featuring Microsoft-sponsored mobile posts, uses the “map it” feature to help their readers crash a formerly hush-hush advertiser party.

SVI Mobile Post

RealTravel Mobile Posting from Snowy Lake Tahoe

Another site puts Microsoft-sponsored mobile post widget to good use, RealTravel.

RealTravel Mobile Post