Commentary

Missed Opportunities At The 4As Conference

It is never a good thing when conference attendees — and I’m talking specifically about last week’s 4As' conference in Miami — spend their time chatting in the hallways about what wasn’t said at sessions, which are supposed to be probing, timely and topical, right?

A couple of sessions at last week’s conference certainly missed those benchmarks, hence the hallway chatter.

One example: Hours before Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress, Facebook's Nada Stirratt, vice president, global marketing solutions, North America, sat on the 4As' stage to talk about retaining happy employees. Other than a brief statement touting the company line, she never addressed what everyone wanted to hear from Facebook: How it will fix its relationship with unhappy advertisers.

Not to mention solutions to how its vast pool of data is being manipulated in ways that aren’t good by third parties like Cambridge Analytica.

But Facebook employees are apparently very happy with their mission statements!

The 4As' crowd was less than impressed. And that’s a format issue the 4As needs to do a better job of managing. At least if it wants to give attendees their money’s worth.

Separately, Google — another platform under fire by the industry — was given the white-glove treatment, thanks to a solo session presented by company executive Allan Thygensen. He spoke about the wonderful things Google and YouTube are doing to be brand-friendly. Haven't we heard this before?

Friendly is fine, but a few new insights on brand safety would definitely have impressed the audience more.

And during a session hosted by Twitter to discuss "extremely successful" Twitter ad campaigns, Lauren Fuller, account director, 360i, amusingly forgot the third flavor of the "incredibly successful" contest where hundreds of thousands of users submitted their own Oreo flavors. The three finalists were pina colada, cherry cola, and um, we don't know since Fuller couldn't recall the third possibility. But trust her, the campaign was a rip-roaring success!

Hey, everybody has a bout of brain freeze once in a while. Trust me, I get that. But of all the topics that come to mind regarding Twitter and advertisers, the 4As' crowd was probably least interested in case studies.

There was definitely a missed opportunity in Miami last week to have several in-depth, insightful conversations that could have engaged attendees and provided lots of interesting takeaways. Instead, we experienced a lot of superficial chatting about trust and diversity.

But hey, the food was delicious and the weather warm.

What do you think, did you get your money’s worth?

 

 

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