Welcome To OMMA Behavioral

Once again, tomorrow at OMMA Behavioral we assemble the leading thinkers and practitioners of the online audience targeting arts. Almost two years ago we started this series wondering whether the ad world really needed a show devoted to a specific model of digital targeting. During our inaugural show at the Yale Club in New York, I remember Wall Street Journal Vice President Brian Quinn joking about the idea during a panel session. If we were going to have a show on just one kind of media buying, then "Why not a show on run-of-site?"

The need for a BT gathering was evident at that first event. We so overwhelmed the Yale Club that people were filling the balcony. We had to delay the afternoon sessions just to give the crowd time to make it back up from lunch on the elevators. On both coasts now, OMMA Behavioral has grown, because there's an acute need to discuss, in a focused way, behavioral tracking techniques, and the special issues of complexity and privacy that surround them. As we move into the most challenging media environment in a generation, the call for efficiency is driving even greater interest (and scrutiny) in data-driven targeting. And so, the environment also requires changes in our show.

This iteration of OMMA Behavioral intends to meet that challenge head-on by exploring specific aspects of the field in greater tactical detail than we have before. In response to attendee feedback and the current pressures on marketers to perform, I focused this program on the tools that buyers are using here and now that deliver ROI from BT.

In one panel on the auto segment we look at how behavioral tools are locating and converting the dwindling numbers of in-market buyers. I chose this specific crisis point in the hopes that lessons learned here could apply in some way to all targeting strategies in a down economy.

In re-targeting we have an approach that everyone knows is effective, but too often it delivers at a small scale. I have already seen moderator Alan Chapell's prep sheet for that panel. Getting programs to scale is one of the lead questions. MediaPost's own public policy and regulatory expert Wendy Davis is bringing together some of the key organizations involved in devising self-policing policies for data and privacy. Where are they in crafting these industry responses to recent FTC guidelines? Do they all agree? To whom should marketers and publishers be looking for guidance now?

And on down the line. We charged our moderators and panelists to be practical and speak about cases. I have had the opportunity to see some of the prep materials the moderators are using with the panelists, and rarely have I seen sessions this well planned by organizers this eager to get down to brass tacks.

We wrapped the panels in several keynotes and a final "vendor grilling" that I can't wait to see. From the time I started covering Revenue Science back in 2001, its leaders (then Bill Gossman and now Jeff Hirsch) loved talking about the long ball -- how behavioral tracking was going to play out far beyond the Web and way into the future. More recently, Jeff has been talking about data as a kind of currency in the interactive market. After hearing these ideas floated in countless interviews with Jeff and Bill over the years we invited Jeff to spin it out for us. What will BT look like in the coming years... in 2020 even?

Havas is responsible for buying as much or more behaviorally targeted inventory as any agency I know. I have been pursuing Managing Director Ed Montes to deliver a keynote about the view of BT among his planners, and this time we nabbed him. I won't steal Ed's thunder, but I can tell you that attendees are in for a treat. Ed is bringing some Havas home movies with him.

And an old friend of our show, Forrester Senior Analyst Emily Riley, returns. Emily wowed the first OMMA Behavioral show years ago with her research on BT ad effectiveness. This time we get the most recent numbers on the market penetration and effectiveness of BT as well as Emily's take on best practices.

In just a few years we've established a tradition of ending OMMA Behavioral with a virtual barbeque, what we call "Grilling the Vendors." The programming philosophy at MediPpost is to avoid "panel pitches" at all costs. We populate sessions primarily with marketers and brands who explore the larger issues and smaller nuts and bolts of their craft. But behavioral targeting, like many emerging fields, is awash in vendors shopping around impressive case studies, promises of results and differentiation. So we reverse the polarity of our usual panel composition and fill our final panel with vendors. Then we turn up the heat.

Tomorrow we focus on the fresher companies in the space that are coming to market with new audience modeling and data mining approaches. I asked old pro Jim Meskauskas to serve up this "New Datarati" because I already know Jim has concerns about what value this tier of service really adds. And so many of these companies are offering increasingly automated solution to the media buying chain (even the building of creative). Is there a point where the pursuit of efficiency undermines the effectiveness of human sales relationships and creativity? Jim comes armed with that agenda, but this is also the panel where we solicit questions throughout the day from the audience and from you online.

Which brings me to the last component of OMMA Behavioral... YOU. There is still time to submit questions for the final grilling of the vendors or any other panel. Send them directly to me at popeyesmith@comcast.net, and I will try to make your voice heard during the session, even if remotely.

If you can't make it to the event at the Marriott Marquis in New York tomorrow, then try monitoring the proceedings via our events blog at http://www.mediapost.com/blogs/raw/ and at our event Twitter feed http://twitter.com/mediapostlive. Both will be manned and fed by Mediapost reporters. You can interact with us there.

We hope that one way or another, in person or remotely, you can participate.

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