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Internet Summit ’14: From an Intern’s POV


So, Internet Summit 2014. What is it?

Internet Summit 2014 is a digital marketing conference that is hosted at the Raleigh Convention Center in gorgeous downtown Raleigh, NC.

I had the pleasure of attending with my fellow marketing team members at ASPE, and I was especially excited to go because I was just the lowly intern. When I walked into the monumental convention center on the first day, I had stars in my eyes to say the least. So many people, so many booths, and so many young marketers and I was shocked! At North Carolina State University (my now Alma Mater), marketing is a concentration, one of the least chosen, of the general business administration degree.  So I thought that the marketing realm was similar, a small dot on the map of business. But how wrong I was! There were so many people here that were ALL interested in learning something about marketing!

So, the first session started. It was the opening keynote speaker, David Pogue (@Pogue) who is the founder of Yahoo! Tech. Now this was a riveting presentation. He discussed some of the interesting tech advances, especially the cool new apps that are blowing the minds of Apple users including World Lens, Ocarina, TwitAround and RemotePC.

David Pogue wrapped up the session, with a rousing round of spoofed and original musical numbers that poked fun at some of the big names in the tech industry. I mean this man has some musical talent to say the least.  Overall, his presentation is one that you would want to watch again just so you could soak up as much genius as possible.

Quote of Session: “The Pit is Always Smaller than the Plum.”

My Favorite Session:

  • Strategy and Campaign Assessment: Re-Upping your Marketing Game with Jodi Wearn

Jodi Wearn, from SilverPop (@SilverPop), was wearing a smart black assemble with eye catching red shoes. In other words, the type of woman I want to be in 20 years. She was dynamic, riveting, and an expert in the field. I spent the session scribbling in my notebook as fast as I could. She spoke about some of the strategies that marketers just cannot overlook.

Mobile, mobile, mobile. This is a trend that is essential for any campaign. There has been an increase of 400% in opens of emails on mobile devices, and if recipients can’t read your email, then best bet it’s going in the trash. You do not want your viewers to have to “pinch or squint” at your message. Furthermore, your subject lines, from names, and preheader’s need to be short and sweet.

  • From Name= ~25 characters
  • Subject Line=~35 characters
  • Preheader=~85 characters

Measuring engagement is another place where companies cannot slack. Your campaigns need to be individual, insightful, contextual, and actionable. Behaviors that you need to measure on the Internet; what pages they visit, did they post to twitter, how many emails did they open or click on, etc.

Finally stay relevant by harnessing social media. “Use that hash tag!” If you feel like you can’t manage so many social media platforms then just pick 2 and hone those. You can even embed your twitter handle in whitepapers or other materials. Blog actively or at least read current blogs that are relevant to your company’s marketing goals.

Quote of the session: “There’s a person behind every piece of data.”

Internet Summit Critique:

So this is where it might get a little snarky. If you work for Internet Summit or do not want to hear anything negative, this is the time to stop reading. No matter what way you look at it, no conference is going to perfect; so it makes sense to say that Internet Summit was not perfect. The planners of Internet Summit did have some great ideas, they just had a little trouble implementing them for such a large group.


Internet Summit 2014 was HUGE. I mean the tickets were sold out if that gives you any idea. So the first problem this huge group caused was a lack of sustenance. Breakfast was scarce, there were no snacks, and the lunch was meager. When lunch was put out on Thursday afternoon, it was like an animal stampede towards the watering hole. People were cutting in lines, shoving, and yelling because they ran out so quickly. This is my thing about this problem, Internet Summit spent 100’s of thousands of dollars to have Steve Wozinak speak so obviously they had money to spend. Investing a few extra dollars in food seems not to be that big of a request. Even worse, they kept letting the coffee urns go empty. A surefire way to piss off some business people is to run out of coffee!

Unfulfilled Promises:

My next big problem with Internet Summit is that the majority of the speakers just simply did not meet expectations. They had a lot of great ideas and a lot of great information. However, majority of the people in attendance are college or higher graduates. We know the background and the basics. What we really want to know is HOW or WHY to actually implement these great ideas or how to use these ideas in the real world. Some sessions had these great titles that promised to be a great learning experience for all. However, once the speaker finished I felt like I was still waiting for them to do what they promised. Where was the good stuff? Speakers at this conference are supposed to be industry experts. The speakers could have done a better job of sharing how they were successful at their job rather than give a sales pitch about their organization’s service or product.  Some sessions were fantastic and I spent every moment scribbling as many notes as I could. On the other hand, some sessions were dry, full of public knowledge, and left us with unfulfilled expectations.

What Made it Worth It:

David Poque was the highlight of the conference. He was brilliant, incredibly entertaining and empowering. Jodi Wearn is my new idol. Her Strategy and Campaign Assessment presentation will have my wheels turning for months to come. Marcelo Andrade, a Brazilian Ad man, gave a pretty riveting presentation on relationship marketing. As 21st century marketers, we’re technology pioneers. However, Andre hit home when he said, “Technology comes and goes and what remain are broken relationships and empty communities. Its’ not about technology, it’s about sociology, anthropology and human behavior.” The presentation that sent me away with the largest, immediately implementable to-do list was Diane Pease’s presentation on Paid Search. Her top 10 PPC must-haves was search marketing gold.

Putting it All Together:

For an intern, the opportunity to attend Internet Summit ’14 was monumental and an eye opening experience. There really is a whole world of marketing professionals that purely exist to revolutionize the field. Sure there were some bad aspects of the conference, like the money wasting DJs that blared music in-between every session, but there were some great learning opportunities for people like me who are extremely wet behind the ears. However next year, please dear god feed the people! Cut out all of the unnecessary “frou frou” crap and have coffee, snacks, and a catered lunch.  Business people definitely appreciate the food way more than the disco tech atmosphere in the conference rooms. So would I go again? Absolutely. I would just be much more conscientious about the sessions I chose to attend and I would bring snacks!

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