That place smelled like aftershave and feet. The entryway was guarded by an angry polar bear and the chairs were inspired by Hemingway. The room the panel spoke in was low-lit, with the day fading through stained glass windows sporting busts of adventure seekers. It was a bit of a claustrophobic's nightmare, with people nearly sitting on each other -- but hey, do you think Neil Armstrong groused to Buzz Aldrin about close quarters?
JP Morgan's Imram Khan kicked off the two-hour-long Pontiflex Cost Per Lead (CPL) commercial with, "the weather is so nice, I was afraid no one would show up!" His clip art-spattered presentation quickly scrolled through Facebook stats and statements like "TV viewership being on the decline is a myth," -- like dragons? Brand representation on the panel that followed came from BabyCenter ("we're in the business of collecting moms"), ASPCA (cue Sarah McLaughlin sob-crooning, delivering stabs of guilt into your cold heart), Tommy Hilfiger ("So... what are we doing with Facebook?" -- Tommy Hilfiger), and Heinz. Sure, they shared their Pontiflex experience, but they also delivered that "you're not alone" message to the marketers in the audience struggling with the age-old pain of justifying strategies and tactics in a social world. They also used the word "bucket" a lot.
Let's get to the good stuff: cocktails! After the presentation, we were invited to the library for the fizzy stuff, which made me think of "Gone With The Wind"-era "the men shall retire to the parlor for cigars and talk of war." This is where the good stuff happens, like perhaps the invention of a collapsible wheelbarrow to wheel your drunk friend home in. This invention baby was birthed in a brainstorm between Smartbrief's Zach Rosenberg and WebMD's Jason Pieroni. Pieroni also happens to be a Pontiflex customer -- and a 75% happy one at that! "CPL is a viable acquisition source" -- a sound bite from Pieroni, who added, "results [of the testing phase] are 75% favorable, and on the backend, if quality and metrics prove out, we would certainly spend more with them."
I also ran into Neil Capel, CEO of Sailthru, who Thought Equity Motion's Gail Hilton and I met nearly a year ago (or more?) in the spillover from that sweaty Mashable event. It was a wonderful surprise, as Neil's sense of humor is in the same vein as mine and Gail's. Which means we spent some time on what augmented reality can do for the porn industry and the evil that lies beneath fiber bars.
Neil belongs at The Explorers Club with his tales of travel through Thailand, skiing in Switzerland, and archaeological digs in the West Village. He channels his vine swinging spirit into Sailthru - where they're bringing behavioral into the email marketing jungle. Think of it this way - let's say you only subscribe to five MediaPost newsletters (I know, how can you limit yourself to just five!?), but based on your behavior with those five, you then get a weekly mailing that aggregates info that we just KNOW you'll love from stuff you DON'T subscribe to. That's what Sailthru does.
I also spent a fair amount of time with Horn Group's Ben Billingsley, Shelley Beason, Kim Dixon, and Susan Turner sharing tales of North Carolina, Shaker Heights, small towns, and another Horn Grouper, Nate Hermes. I also met Zephrain Lasker, CEO and Co-Founder of Pontiflex and his wife. People spotted were Traffic Buyer's Andrew Wagner, SayForExample, Inc's John Hrzic, Interclick's Mel Bessha, OwnerIQ's Sam Rubenstein, Quality Health's Mike Amsel, and Rebecca Lieb of eConsultancy. Obviously there were plenty more in attendance and you can find them in the photo set!
Thanks to panelists Sarah Buckenberger, Director, Customer Acquisition, BabyCenter.com; Jared Blank, Senior Director, E-Commerce, Tommy Hilfiger; Joe Caccavano, Vice President, Emerging Technologies, Ferrara & Company (Representing Heinz and Co); Debbie Swider, Senior E-Marketing Manager, ASPCA. They were moderated by Stephanie Miller, VP, Global Market Development, Return Path.
Oh, and thank you, Explorers Club, for the polar bear and water buffalo.