IBO’s Graceland Conference
It is day 1 of the Independent Billboard Organization’s (IBO) Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. More specifically, it’s hosted at the ‘Guest House at Graceland’, the living hotel and shrine to The King, Elvis Presley, whose Graceland estate home is just around the corner.
The hotel is indeed a shrine to Presley and thrown back to his days. His music is piped in throughout the hotel. The room numbers and names are printed on signs which are red on red and nearly impossible to read. The drapes, pillows, photos, paintings and furniture are as opulent as the King himself. There is a certain amount of Southern Charm to ‘the Guest House’. The greatest tell of the place are the guests, standing as true fans of Elvis. If you liked Elvis, you’ll love the ‘Guest House’.
We were not here for Elvis or the accommodations. The IBO was hosting its biannual conference for a gathering of OOH owners from around the USA. This is our second attendance and the highlight for us was, once again, the strong network opportunities provided by our host Chris Cowlbeck. Cowlbeck gets it. The number one value of this conference, as any other, is the networking, discussions and face time. Credit the intimacy of the room, the size of the crowd, the lack of a formal stage or Cowlbeck’s easy going style, as host. Our take is, it is the generous allotment of breaks set aside and duration. Whatever it is, it works for quality face to face time between attendees. And there in, lies the value.
Day 1 agenda, ran fast and sweet, cramming in 10 speakers or speaking segments before lunch break. Followed by another 5 working experts after a nearly 90 minute lunch. IBO has no ‘big names’ or keynotes speaking at the conference. The speakers are the every day people who work in the trenches (the OOH Today champion) patiently grinding out short 3 yard gains one play at a time.
The day’s categories ranged from DSP and Foot Print Strategy, to 400 mm Digital Standards, to Traffic Analysis, Selling Mobile with OOH, Valuing CPM and of course the array of Programmatic offerings by primary players, Adomni, Vistar and AdQuick. All 15 speakers talked the talk around selling their services and selling the message. Everyone acquitted themselves and their organization quite well in their presentations, but the strongest of the day, the King of the day’s conference if you will, was the one least expected, from software egghead (that’s a complement) John James of Apparatix.
John James, who is Apparatix owner, has created an OOH suite of comprehensive services for the Outdoor Advertising business which continues to grow and evolve. It is evolution which has kept Apparatix healthy while moving forward. James championed, as did Cowlbeck in a followup, the importance of Geopath ratings and audience measurement. Contrary to what we hear from some of the Big 3 OOH companies, specifically the foot draggers to the new Geopath measurement ratings release, IBO is setting support of Geopath ratings and encouraging members to embrace. OOH Today sees this as a very positive positioning which will serve Independent Owners exceptionally well in the near future.
At 3 PM, the ‘speaking at’ portion of the afternoon was complete. Operators and vendors met in the Vendor’s expo area for Formetco sponsored iced beers, self served from coolers, for another 3 solid hours of networking without time constraint nor attempts to control the dialogue, enjoying open and encouraging conversation before the evening event, of a Memphis Riverboat ride with dinner.
We said it before, and it bears repeating, this message directed to OAAA and Geopath, to take note for the annual OOH Conferences: Networking is a ‘lifetime achievement.’ More time should be allotted and conditions created, facilitating networking and greater face to face meetings.
We’ll report about Day 2, October 3rd on Friday the 4th.