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LAist @ ad:tech SF - Part Deux

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LAist has been at ad:tech SF 2008 this week - this is the second part of our report.

ad:tech featured several keynotes and "power panels" (not to be confused with a fuse box) that were remarkable. There was an emphasis on how companies can effectively maintain their brand in this new media era of blogs, forums, and podcasts.

Day one started off with Keynote Roundtable: The Art of Conversation - Building Great Brands in the Digital Age which was a panel of Fortune 500 reps (or at least reps of divisions of Fortune 500 companies) talking about brand maintenance. People from MTV, Sony, Nestle, etc.

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The feeling I got from these people was that they really didn't understand social media apart from the position of trying to figure out how to exploit it. Beth Thomas-Kim, Director and Head of Consumer Services for Nestle USA, kept describing blogs as an "incoming process" (with lots of airquotes) which, as a blogger, I found very annoying. With a blog you can stake a position, disseminate information or other communications. Yes, people have to "come in" to read your post (wait, what about RSS feeds?) but once the info is out there other bloggers or properties can take that information and repost it, link to it, and otherwise keep your post in play well beyond the domain name of your blog. Not getting it is a big deal as evidenced by this deplorable video by Microsoft that has hit the web in the last couple days.

ad:tech was also an opportunity for San Francisco groups to hold their own symposiums. One of these was the Media Web Meetup hosted at Songbirdnest's HQ near Moscone. The topic at the symposium was the conflict between technology companies in Northern California producing innovative applications that leverage copyrighted media (music, movies, etc.) and the copyright holders based in Los Angeles not seeing the light or otherwise cooperating [Songbird, BTW, is a web-enriched media player so there's the location connection].

Since the event was held in SF you can imagine that the discussion was a bit one-sided. Of course it's understood that the record labels are desperate, miserable, and suspicious as they watch revenues plummet year over year but I don't know how a bitch session in SF is going to help that. There was widespread agreement that just because the labels know how to set up fake MySpace pages for bands that they don't understand social media any better than Nestle does. All in all, it was a bit of a one-sided conversation [I also got kind of fed up at one point when panelist Corey Denis described Guns & Roses having, "pretty much, the first music video on MTV" - actually, Guns & Roses probably heralded the beginning of the end of MTV as a place to watch music videos, I know I'm pushing 40 but really].

Back to ad:tech, there were plenty of discussions both esoteric and general - being LAist's TV editor I had to go to the TV 3.0 discussion which spent quite a bit of time discussing how Tivo and DVRs have made that medium look bad initially but now your behavior is even more measurable [also on the show floor I saw some technology from that allows producers to create clickable video so that viewers can click on the handbag that Sara Jessica Parker is carrying and find out where to buy it].

Of course there were plenty of parties, one that was notable was presented by the Association for Downloadable Media (ok, I'm sure that 100 years ago there might have been an Association of Newsprint Producers, but this might be pushing it - JK). Kiptronic hosted it on their incredible rooftop patio and there was much oohing and aahing at the sun setting between the building. There were more after that but I was happy to grab a nice gin martini at Maxfield's at the nearby Palace Hotel.

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