ad:tech Sydney 2010

2 days, 3 keynotes, 1 CEO panel, 3 tracks, 140+ speakers, 3 St Patrick’s Day jigs, 4 hashtags, 27 references to Australia as the social network capital of the world, and a record number of delegates. That was ad:tech done for another year.

I heard the familiar post conference murmurs of “nothing new here” but I’d have to disagree. I was disappointed with the very first session of the day – How Relevant is the Concept of a “Big Idea” in Today’s Interactive Landscape. While the speakers all agreed a big idea took conviction and confidence to execute, none seemed to show any conviction or confidence in their thoughts on the subject, sitting on the fence and downplaying prepared examples. Luckily things soon turned around.

Maybe I’m still loyal to my employment history client side (I’ve only worked in an agency starting with Daemon in  May last year) but I really feel the marketers stole the show. Rather than hearing agencies repeat what should be done in digital marketing, it was refreshing to hear from companies who had put these into practice and more importantly their learnings from the execution.  Favourites here were Margaret Zabel from Lion Nathan, Roger Sharp from Cadbury, Nicole Leeson from Qantas and Gerd Schenkel from UBank.

Margaret presented on XXXX Gold Beach Cricket, 6 Beers of Separation, TED 696 Project and The Lab and had this to say (warning: paraphrased)

  • With no access to major sport sponsorships, Beach Cricket was born.
  • Lion Nathan had to look outside their usual marketing skill set and found themselves creating game rules, recruiting sports stars and figuring out how to film and televise the games
  • Those engaged in 6 Beers of Separation were highly engaged but the campaign didn’t achieve the reach they were expecting
  • Same again with TED 696 Project – low participation figures yet highly engaged
  • When you’re in uncharted territories without the luxury of benchmarks and previous experience, you’re always operating in beta
  • The Lab is the product of learnings from these previous campaigns

Margaret said that Lion Nathan was willing to fail fast and walk away from an idea if it wasn’t working rather than flogging a dead horse. What their campaigns have demonstrated is that while they might walk away from an idea, they won’t walk away from the overall strategy of engaging their audience with branded and user generated content and out of the box thinking.

adtech panel including Nicole Leeson from Qantas

photo by @lucio_riberio

Qantas and Cadbury proved themselves good listeners, with Nicole Leeson outlining how the Qantas digital strategy involves listening posts in social media despite the decision not to have a voice in the same area. Nicole won the crowd over with gems like “There’s no digital strategy, instead it’s a communication strategy with digital as a tool”.

Cadbury presented in conjunction with their agency The Online Circle who became aware of an issue with vocal Facebook fans protesting against the use of palm oil in Cadbury products. This proactive approach ensured their crisis management strategy could be executed swiftly, minimising further damage to the brand. Roger also admitted Cadbury initially underestimated the scale of the issue and the power of a vocal group of detractors in social media however continued to work with The Online Circle to defuse the situation. Roger noted there are no audiences for your crisis, only varying levels of participants and that they can be detractors or advocates.

Gerd Schenkel earned a few new customers during the CEO panel debate where he discussed UBank’s business model. These points resonated with the audience and were retweeted repeatedly:

  • Train for skills, hire for values
  • It’s better to be 10 seconds of someone’s time in their preferred online space than forcing them to your website
  • UBank customers must register with an email address and mobile number – building from scratch means they can enforce these conditions for simplified banking
  • Banking is too boring to be a destination
  • 9 out of 10 times UBank engages critical voices online they turn them into brand advocates
  • Start with a fresh approach to social media rather than changing fixed opinons
  • Social media strategy is underpinned by organisation brand values

Add the fact that it only takes 5 minutes to open a bank account (end to end including identification) and I think UBank can definitely attribute ad:tech as a lead generation category in their sales cycle.

I’ve got plenty more to say (not surprised are you?) including my thoughts on the Westfield Gift Card case study, a wrap up of the discussion on geo targeting and mobile social software opportunities and an attempt to share some of the insights from the data panel who ended day one with far too much thinking before far too much drinking at the networking event. Would love to hear what others thought of the sessions!

Finally a huge shout out to @lucio_ribeiro, @acatinatree, @katydaniells (who works with us at @daemondigital), @markpollard, @jyesmith and the @ideagarden team for their tweets throughout the conference and recording the good, the bad and the ugly for prosperity.

Twitter streams






Mark Pollard: Life. Then strategy

Social media campaign vs commitment: short-term or long-term?

Reputation management in the digital space: challenges and opportunities

What does ‘return’ mean in today’s digital landscape?

Going beta: What ‘being brave’ can do for your advertising message and medium

Channel Planning: How to weave advertising messages through different platforms

How relevant is the concept of a ‘big idea’ in today’s interactive landscape?

Nic Hodges: Uneven distribution

Ad:Tech session: Your Campaign is Irrelevant

Will Scully: Datarati

Top 5 lessons learnt in data @ ad:tech 2010


Adtech: ‘Standalone campaigns are dead and Best Job missed a trick’

Adtech Sydney live blog: The financial CEOs

Adtech Sydney – early impressions: nothing to start a riot; nothing to stop a riot

Adtech live blog – Big ideas (and why iSpyLevis wasn’t one)

Adtech Day 1: Live blog – Unilever’s Babs Rangaiah & Jenny Williams

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~ by mandi bateson on March 19, 2010.

6 Responses to “ad:tech Sydney 2010”

  1. Great read, thanks for posting! Wish I could have attended this year 😦 The second UBank point is a great take-away. Onto read the other posts.

  2. Thanks for the summary Mandi, and also that cool screen shot feat. my Twitter handle 🙂 @montyhamilton

    UBank (Gerd and myself) had a great time, it was great to share some of the UBank story with attendees – we’ll be back!

    Speak soon,
    Monty H
    UBank – Head of Online

    • You’re welcome Monty, I heard your session went well too. If banks can get this shit right it certainly puts the pressure on everyone else! 😉

  3. Mandi,
    great wrap uo here. I was so glad to meet you!
    Hope to see you soon.

    @monty Ubank blew me away!

  4. […] ad:tech Sydney 2010 – a wrap up on some of the learnings from the ad:tech crowd […]

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