Sparking The Industry

On personal levels, many things fuel the dynamism of life: by whom and how you were raised; physical surroundings; social fabric and settings; intentional pursuits and happenstance; your adventures and exposures; the company you keep.  Personal life relies on the tensions, textures, and contradictions within all that to thrive. And so, it follows, does our business.

As an industry, were it not for an incredible array of factors,  we would not be who we are. Without our intricate, volatile and storied mix, we might be nothing. We might just be peddling clicks forevermore. I was thinking recently about all the things -- some intangible and some concrete -- we  could not be without. What sparks our industry?

The healthy rub between church and state -- or, our own version of it, anyway. Tension between the content and community and the business side, the monetization of our platforms, is foundational to what we've become. In the earliest days this played out in the first ads finally being sold within content environments, then evolving into more custom work, and onward to our everlasting, shared focus on striking the right mix to establish engaging productive digital environments. Tension persists, but it's primarily a fruitful one.

The conference business. As an essential layer within our world, this arena has seen flashes in the pan and ongoing successful conference organizations that have evolved with the times. The best ones give us gathering places, sounding boards and a means for checking the pulse of the biz. Love them or hate them, much of our lifeblood flows through them.

Heated buyer/seller and agency/publisher banter. The steady tension within these relationships encourages or even forces us to deal with this core call-and-response and how healthy it is between us, almost every day. Staying tuned to the quality and evolution of this role-driven aspect is essential to our evolving the industry. A lot of this happens by simply talking about it with our peers -- comparing notes and vowing to make it better, one and all.

The expressive and voracious consumer. As media as a whole has moved from broadcast and one to many models -- to something far more interactive -- the power of the consumer has become even more evident. It's seen in the way demand and influence are expressed, and within the increasingly robust media consumption and utilization habits of consumers. And, we respond. One begets the other, and the exchange yields more and more learning and growth, or course correction and growth.

Our data aspirations. Yes, without data, our footing is slim. But, moreover, our aspirational outlook on data is a guiding force. We want better systems, tool-set reliability, constantly applicable analysis. May we never stop wanting -- or standing just a bit on our toes.

And, of course, as we do business together and build the industry, let us not forget the sparks provided by creative tension, the competitive spirit, and a whole slew of things -- from fear, dumb luck, pontification and provocation, to bravery, pioneering and believing. We need all of these things.

In my own life, I think often about what factors into my world and feeds my view.  I could riff on this mix. But, suffice it to say, whatever your own mix is, if you are immersed in and engaged within this industry, some level of your own tensions and dynamism are mirrored by your industry. As it should be.



2 comments about "Sparking The Industry".
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  1. Rita from FreshAddress, Inc., September 20, 2010 at 3:18 p.m.

    Insightful, Kendall and thought provoking. Just recently, in a personal effort to take inventory of things I would be hard pressed to live without, I included email and my iphone at the top. As we become a country recognizing the need to pare down, it's good to note what remains relevant both professionally and personally. Thanks.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 20, 2010 at 3:37 p.m.

    You are so right. There is not one panacea for getting that potential customer to a customer spending their money for what you have to sell. Between ever more fragmentation and consumer disposable income shrinking, the sale needs to be more revered. Clever and smart ads with viral tendencies do not necessarily increase net profits.

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