Three Digital Revelations from the GroupM What’s Next Conference

I was lucky to be able to attend the What’s Next conference in New York City last week. Those who went would tell you that it was a tremendous event and covered the full digital marketing landscape. Sure Charlene Li from Altimeter Group, Steven Levy from Wired, and Jim “ZMOT” Lecinsky from Google all dropped some knowledge on us, but the truly precious revelations came from the marketer panels themselves. Check out #groupmnext for the full monty, but if you don’t have time, here are my top three takeaways.

1. Mobile marketing won’t fulfill its destiny without embedding social.

Display ads on mobile devices only scratch the surface of what mobile might mean for brands. Marketers from Macy’s and AT&T proved that the real opportunity is to connect people with messages, offers and each other through location-based campaigns. As Mark D’Arcy from Facebook summed it up with a tweetworthy point, “people connect with the things they care about – including brands.

2. Without a doubt, search does drive in-store behavior.

Chris Copeland from GroupM Search unveiled game-changing new research (disclosure – Compete partnered with them on this) on the connection between search and in-store purchasing based on work for brands like Radio Shack and Audi. If you’re a manufacturer or retailer, you need to learn more about the 93% of in-store buyers who use search before they purchase, and how to optimize your SEM/SEO campaigns to make sure you’re in the mix.

3. It is possible to measure social media ROI without getting laughed at by your CFO.

Adrian Parker from Radio Shack laid it out incredibly simply when he broke down how to measure social media ROI: Engagement, Share of Voice & Resonance, and Attributable Revenue. It’s so good that we started applying his framework in a self-evaluation of our own marketing this week (and that put a smile on our CFO’s face).

I was encouraged and impressed by the level of experimentation and tolerance for risk that brands like Volkswagen, Xerox and Dell have demonstrated as they’ve looked for new ways remain top-of-mind with the consumers they’re targeting. It’s clear that marketers aren’t sitting on the sidelines anymore, paralyzed by the impact of new technology on fearsome, digitally-enabled consumers. You don’t have to look too hard to find best practice examples across multiple industries that the rest of us can learn from.

Many thanks to the GroupM team for gathering these smart marketers to share their experiences, both good and bad, so that their collective insights can benefit digital marketers anywhere.