An insight into just how many people take calls while in the loo (about half of us); how to find the nearest pair of jeans using just your phone; the power of positive storytelling and a world class heckling performance – the Sunday Business Post Digital Marketing Summit yesterday at Croke Park had it all!

The audience was a broad church, so it was no surprise that some found the more basic presentations to be simple and informative while others wondered why they were paying to listen to the basics over again.

But there was a lot that was informative and insightful. Here’s a quick run through of stuff I found  interesting.

DAA scores big with Storytelling

Paul O’Kane from The DAA got things going with an account of their Twitter journey, which has led to Dublin Airport being awarded ‘the World’s Best Airport on Twitter’, while also becoming the world’s 5th largest airport on Twitter. The first of many instances of it being ‘all about the story’.

Adam Berke from Adroll explained that, much like the stock exchange, machines are taking over ad purchasing (eek!); retargeting is getting very good conversion figures (3.25% CTR on mobile and an 85% increase in return conversions); and up to 90% of consumer transactions start on one device and finish on another. He did qualify this by saying he thought the figure was a bit high (you think? Sounds mad to me, but if dem’s de numbers!!)!

Then it got out of hand.

Passions spill over

In an unconventional conversational presentation from Change Agents, Paul O’Mahony told us to STOP! Everything. Don’t tweet, email, post, update, do anything. Just stop. And think. Find the one thing you stand for and that you want to be known for. And focus on that. (I’m giving a far more concise and less rambling version of his presentation here. It's ok, he told me this himself later!).

He also made the interesting point that oversupply of content was diluting our attention to content. And in this he is surely right – we need to focus on quality, outstanding content, not just content for the sake of content.

Anyway, his slightly zany, dare I say manic, style got a bit too much for a lady from DIT who took the mic and told him in no uncertain terms that his presentation was ridiculously basic, underprepared and a waste of all of our time. As @5thonteeling tweeted ‘Looks like Ali won’t be the last fight in Croke Park!’

(As an aside, Paul – the man who implored us all to stop this tweeting and social activity - was one of the most inveterate tweeters of the day. Isn’t it ironic, Alanis?)

The New Google Paradigm

Google's Michael Faley gave us some interesting numbers on online research impacting on real world transactions – 38% research online before purchasing offline (and 22% research online while out shopping) - the underlying message being that in evaluating your adwords spend, you need to factor this in. Also interesting that one third of online transactions take over 30 days to complete (an argument for lead nurturing through your website if ever there was one!).

Alan Coleman and Brendan Almack from Wolfgang gave a terrific presentation on what’s coming down the track from Google. Essentially, with Google now a public company and the investors wanting their moolah, more and more of the above the fold real estate is being consumed with paid ads. New formats include image ad extensions; seller ratings; form extensions; and product listing ad extensions (which Alan sees as a game changer).

The impact is to change the paid:organic equation from 50:50 to 80:20 above the fold in shopping search. The key is to understand your customer journey as Google upweights paid search ads the deeper into the funnel you go; offering content and paid search the opportunity to work hand in hand. Oh, and Alan will eat his runners next year if Google haven’t introduced video ad extensions on paid search by then.

Des Martin from 3Funnel argued against vanity metrics and said the key was to find the three metrics that mattered to you – one for the top of the sales funnel, one for the middle and one for the bottom. He also argued for something that we are big on here – an integrated view of what is going on across the digital arena for easier management and better decision-making.

Plan for Spontaneity

Denis Breen of Twitter underscored something that Karen Hesse of this parish posted about recently. Twitter is all about the moment. And from a marketer’s perspective, you need to plan for the moment. If you target ‘moments’ (e.g. the moments we know are coming up in the World Cup), then you can score big from the scale and shareability of the conversation. But planning is the key to spontaneity.

Maureen O’Rourke of eircom talked about two trends that we are seeing - mobile as the primary screen, and wearable tech. Test every campaign on mobile is her advice. Only do apps for regular, repeat journeys. And yes, you will be sent recipes and shopping lists from your fridge in time.

Diesel Do Nicely

Sean O’Sullivan from Local Social gave another fascinating view of the near future. 100% of the top 100 retailers in the US are trialling iBeacon. So it’s definitely coming. Because GPS is unreliable for indoor environments (e.g. windowless supermarkets/shopping centres) inexpensive beacons are inserted that track your phone whereabouts. Essentially this will do for offline shopping what Google Analytics does for online shopping (amongst other things). You can then search for ‘Diesel’ jeans, follow the map to the nearest pair and tell the assistant ‘Diesel do nicely’ (Sorry. But I’ve waited years to engineer the chance to use that one!).

A Heart-warming Ending

Concern’s Adrian O’Flynn then warmed the cockles of our hearts with their story of how they adapted once the simple ‘advertise on de telly and watch de money come in’ model broke down. They failed to gain traction on Facebook initially, but then it clicked. This happened when they realised that they should be telling positive, uplifting stories of characters that face adversity and come through. It’s classic storytelling. His advice? Focus on the content, not the media. They have a new campaign breaking next Wednesday on social media about Nurse Mary K. Coln. It looks truly inspirational. And you can create the happy ending at #sendbrick.

Speaking of which, Paul O'Mahony friended the lady from the DIT before it all finished.

All that was missing was a beautiful sunset.

Check out #digitalsummit for links to all the presentations, though they should all be up here shortly.

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