My love of BIA Kelsey’s annual Interactive Local Media conference is well-documented. (I’ve also spoken there several times.) I go to a lot of conferences and hear a lot of pie-in-the-sky. But ILM is an annual highlight because Kelsey gathers a who’s-who of no nonsense innovators, cutting across the titans of the industry and smart under-the-radar start-ups. They aren’t afraid to ask tough questions. Most importantly, the cocktail hour is the best networking you’ll see in this industry all year.
More than any other conference I attend, the focus is on business models and revenue. That’s why it makes me sad not to see more of my friends from the newspaper business come rub shoulders with pure-plays. Lord knows they could use the help as well as a respite from another content-driven discussion that seems to net more things that need paid for than life-rafts for the core.
You can see the extensive full agenda on their site, but if you’re like me, you’re a strategic session-attender. Here are my absolutely-can’t-miss sessions:
The Big Money in Local: Featuring folks from Google Ventures, Venrock and Comcast Interactive Capital. I’m very interested in what they’re interested in, and curious to see how funders hope to find the sweetspot between mindless, trafficless scale and expensive hand touch with feet on the street sales.
SuperForum 1: Mobile Local Media: Regular readers know that I believe that mobile is where it’s at; where it’s going and where it will be for a long time. I’m interested that they’re leading with SMS, as I struggle deciding whether SMS is the best, broadest reach or a dinosaur. Lots of heavy hitters on the panels.
The New Local News: Of course, I’ll be watching, as this is my space and I know Mark and Warren. I’ll be squirming in my seat a bit during the DataSphere portion, as my former masters seem to have re-invested some of the proceeds of our sale into their dramatically different model.
SuperForum 2: Deal-a-Day Offers and Pure Pay-For-Performance: Listed with an asterisk, because I’m really beat down with the overhype and overcrowding in this space. But I imagine it will be the most heavily-attended session all week (for the same reasons).
Keynote Address: Steven Johnson, Bestselling Author, ‘Where Good Ideas Come From‘: To my recollection, this is a departure for ILM and a welcome one — although Steven cofounded Outside.in, they’re having him speak on innovation, tied into his new book, Where Good Ideas Come From. (On my iPad, but not read yet — maybe on the plane.) This is a great topic to engage a roomful of media execs. I only wish it was earlier in the conference to see it spawn more cocktail conversation.
Agencies, Local Search and Display: I’ve spent the last decade focused on the media side of the equation, but thanks to some good friends (no, not Mad Men), I’m starting to get interested in what The New Ad Agency looks like.
- Kevin Mohr: Let a thousand sports blogs bloom: SB Nation raises $10.5M (venturebeat.com)
- What Hyper-Local News Sites Can Learn From SB Nation (gigaom.com)
- Attending the Following Conferences this Fall: JIQ 2010, IYP Searchmeet, Local Social Summit, ILM:10 (blogs.praized.com)