3 takeaways from Inbound Marketing Summit New York

Photo courtesy Yahoo Into Now

Attracting social marketers, analysts, mobile strategists and digital technology futurists, the Inbound Marketing Summit (Twitter hashtag #ims12) is one of the best conferences I go to.

When I first attended about three years ago, the conference series was focused exclusively on social marketing tactics. But it has come to include a strong focus on the rapid evolution of the touchscreen devices, social TV and what these shifts mean for professional communicators.

This week, a singular theme emerged: understanding user behaviors is far more important for marketers than in-depth knowledge of the emerging technology platforms that facilitate them.

Here are three takeaways from the event.

1. Tablets aren’t the “third screen” after TVs and smartphones, they’re the first screen. Mike Proulx, senior vice president with advertising agency Hill Holliday, hammered this home during his presentation, “Social TV: Its Impact on Television Programming and Advertising”. Empowered by apps like Yahoo’s Into Now, which identify the audio of a show on a nearby TV (using technology similar to that of song-recognition app Shazam), tablet-holding TV watchers can take part in an online chat with friends who are watching the same show. While there was lively debate about the future of television, Americans still watch 35 hours of TV per week on average. Only now, we’re talking about TV via touchscreen devices as we watch. Marketers need to start thinking about how to capture our attention across multiple devices at once.

2. Get your point across faster in mobile content. Apple devices have paved the way for a more utilitarian touchscreen world that reaches downmarket. While this trend has already manifested itself in affordable Android phones offered by low-cost mobile carriers, Tim Hayden, chief marketing officer for mobile solutions provider 44Doors, predicted that Nokia’s Lumia 900, a Windows Phone device, will follow suit in 2012, driving up market share for Microsoft’s mobile platform. As smartphones become even more ubiquitous, touchscreen devices available for under $100 will begin gaining ground. Research shows that people spend about half as much time viewing the mobile version of a page as compared to the desktop version, Hayden said. That means marketers need to be pithy with mobile content.

3. Organizations are getting smarter about targeting their content marketing to ensure relevance for customers and prospects. Stefan Schinkel, vice president of global business development for context-aware content management system provider Hippo, shared an excellent case study that covered fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana’s efforts to tag text and video content produced by the brand to allow consumers to create customized streams that suit their interests. The tags are generated both manually by Dolce & Gabbana content creators and programmatically through natural language processing tools. Allowing users to customize content in a granular way will become a growing area of focus in content management for brands.