A few weeks ago when I was kicking alongside many other Cbusrs with Hubert Sawyers III during his inaugural pilgrimage to Columbus, OH I heard about the Future Midwest 2011 conference happening in Detroit. Since I have not had the opportunity to attend many interactive conference in the past year — I decided this would be a great opportunity to meet some new people in the interactive space and see what’s shakin’ in the “D.” Although I didn’t arrive to Detroit until the end of day one, I got to participate in some very informative sessions, had a great Taste of Detroit experience and met some very cool people.
Here’s a brief review of some of the highlights.
David Norris, CEO of Bluecava talked about the future of privacy. What was most interesting about his presentation was the argument that online retailers and advertisers need to find ways to bring consumers into the privacy discussion. Because advertisers are collecting personal information about you why not bring consumers into the privacy conversation and offer them ways to be actively engaged in the very complex eco-system.
What Norris also said is that the government — or more specifically, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — really has no idea the extent to which privacy is being violated (or perhaps redefined) by the professionals in internet marketing. So, the legislation that is currently under negotiation is pretty much worthless. Even more alarming for me — and somewhat unknown by the FCC — is the depth to which surveillance is occurring.
According to Norris, most users are unaware that the “tracking” of their website activity goes way beyond their website traffic and includes everything that is done on that website.
Finally, even if you opt-out of personalized ads, that’s really just one piece of the puzzle — and just clear your cookies and that opt-out is officially wiped out. Very interesting stuff.
Relationship Building and Storytelling
The other interesting session was presented by John Meyer and Scott Meyer — bro-founders of 9 Clouds. In addition to being pretty proud of their term “bro-founders,” John and Scott seemed to really understand how to help the non-tech person know how to convert their understanding of online relationship building and storytelling. I love their line, “Your mom is better at Facebook than you are, she just doesn’t know it.” More specifically, your mom — likely part of the fastest growing demographic of people joining Facebook — knows how to maintain relationships and tell great stories. As digital and interactive marketing professionals, if we can help our clients and employers understand how to translate those skills to the digital space, than we can harness the power of social media. That resonated with me.
Although the conference presentations were awesome, there are some low lights to my Future Midwest experience. As any conference organizer knows, you can’t please all the people all the time, so I hope that this constructive criticism is taken as such.
Okay — so interactive — web — social media types are notorious for their immediate gratification needs. As an added obstacle, we all have 2 or 3 or sometimes 4 devices to burn up bandwidth. So, needless to say, there were some issues with the wireless internet access. My hope is as the conference continues this will be resolved.
Even in the Midwest — the tech/digital/interactive/social media hub that Columbus is — is the best kept secret. I think we have to do more in the Cbus to promote the awesome stuff we have going on here because I was sad to see there was no presenters from Columbus on the program agenda. I’m hoping as the relationships grow among and between the communities in Columbus and Detroit that there will be a Cbusr representing at Future Midwest 2012.
Michigan In April
Michigan like Ohio has unpredictable weather conditions, and I obviously can’t put the weather at the doorstep of the conference organizers. I love the Eastern Markets venue, but it was uncomfortable cold. But again, what can you do.
For those of us that are freelancers and independent consultants it can seem daunting to attend conference and conventions because the cost can be a pain point. I know this can hold me back, but I encourage you to save and make it happen. It’s always worth the cost whether it’s the knowledge or the networking you’re going for.
So, what events and conferences are coming up this summer that would be worth shelling out the dough or going the distance to attend?