At ad:tech Sydney I met Aussie blogging legend Darren Rowse in the flesh for the first time. Only knowing him up till then in his online persona, I had always been impressed by his courtesy, not to mention his knowledge and his generosity of spirit.  I was pleased to discover that is was not an online act – the offline Darren is the real deal.

I mention this because Darren’s report of the second day of ad:tech is by no means totally glowing. And precisely because he is such a thoughtful and courteous guy, I trust the ad:tech organisers will take serious note of Darren’s critique. Like him, I heard more than one delegate questioning whether they or their company had got their money’s worth.

Speaking personally, however, the two days were very educational and thought-provoking for me. I doubt I have ever been in the company, for such an extended period, of so many marketers, advertisers and pr people. There was some pretty hefty combined expertise present, especially in terms of how to get into the mind of your customers and prospects and provide what they want (or would like even if they don’t yet know they want it).

And how to do all that most effectively in a rapidly evolving digital environment.

I actually got a lot out of the second day, as I did for the first.

Attendance at the conference overall has made me ask myself a lot of questions about what I am doing – or not – to promote my business and given me some potentially valuable ideas about re-focusing and introducing some new disciplines and new efficiencies.

One thing that particularly struck me was the repeated message that we are now in the era of user generated content – the concept even has its own acronym, UGC, and in that context, I noted the observation of Tony Faure, CEO of NineMSN, that “video is the tipping point”.

The session on search engine optimisation or SEO was informative for me. And I was pleased to hear the speakers emphasising the principle which I espouse (we all like to hear ourselves validated by experts, don’t we?  ) that it’s much better to “earn your way to the top” with the search engines, by consistently producing good content, than by trying to game the system.

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