San Diego Dreamin’ – Charging Through ‘The DMA’

The last time the Direct Marketing Association held its annual conference in San Diego, it was 2009, we were all amid The Great Recession, and having been recently thrown out of a job, money was just too tight to attend on my own. Since then, marketing has changed—a lot—and the U.S. economy overall is in better shape than it was. Folks, looking back, we avoided a Depression

The last time the Direct Marketing Association held its annual conference in San Diego, it was 2009, we were all amid The Great Recession, and having been recently thrown out of a job, money was just too tight to attend on my own. Since then, marketing has changed—a lot—and the U.S. economy overall is in better shape than it was. Folks, looking back, we avoided a Depression.

I endured, and so did DMA. It’s 2014: The conference offering is as good as ever, and there’s simply no better place in the world for data-driven marketers to gather, learn and exchange. While I might argue, all of marketing, and all of advertising, has become data-driven, let’s not forget that measurability and accountability had its historic home in direct marketing … going back to at least 1917. ROI lives here.

It’s always good to get to The DMA early, to support Marketing EDGE (note, a client) and its Annual Awards Dinner, this year honoring Michael Becker and Google. If you didn’t make it Saturday night, you can still contribute via Marketing EDGE’s first foray into social fundraising. Literally hundreds of thousands will be raised this quarter to help build a bridge from students to market-ready marketing professionals.

Come Monday (today), it’s full-on with the conference: and I won’t be missing Magic Johnson giving “Part 3” of the opening keynote, right after DMA Chairman JoAnne Dunn, CEO of Alliant, gives the association address (can’t recall when a DMA Chairman has taken on this role at the conference), with KBM Group, joining Shell and Air Canada, on “The Evolution of Engagement: The Modern Reality of One-to-One.”

I also can’t miss “Data-Driven Marketing Genius: Google, Xerox and a Foreign Film Festival”—the first-time actual International ECHO Award Winners (they don’t know what they’ve won yet) get a main stage to tell the story behind the marketing campaigns that “Wowed” this year’s ECHO judges (including me). Happy Halloween: I’m still shaking over that Horror Festival campaign.

And since I can’t wait ’til January for my “Downton Abbey” fix, I plan to listen in on “Big Data Helps Keep Downton Abbey Alive for its Fans,” which I’m hopeful gives insight on how a popular TV program gives public television more fundraising lift through brand engagement. I’m curious about the Big Data angle.

“What’s the role of the Agency?” seems to have captured a La Jolla wave. Sessions such as “The New Engagement Agency: A Real-Time Revolution,” and “Agency A-List: The Changing Face & Role of the Agency in 2015” speak to some of the digital disruption that is going on, while Brian Fetherstonhaugh of OgilvyOne Worldwide addresses “E-Commerce: The Crucible of Customer Engagement” (all the more interesting, given Ogilvy’s creation of a new analytics agency, OgilvyAmp.)

By the time Wednesday comes, I will be exhausted, inspired and ready to put some newly learned know-how to the test—and I hope to come home with new business contacts, too—but only after I catch a wave and a libation at the Coronado.