The weather was beautiful in Austin this week for the first iMedia Agency Summit of the year.  As a member of the Summit Advisory Board and longtime attendee, I find these events to be one of the best ways for buyers and sellers to come together to learn about (and from) each other.

The overriding theme of this conference was Shift Happens:  Math Men + Mad Men, an important conversation around data and creativity in the digital marketing industry.   This has been an ongoing discussion in our industry and has really heated up over the last several years as big data in the form of targeting, attribution, programmatic buying, etc. has become much more part of marketers’ playbooks.

There were many very informative sessions throughout the summit, but I think the statement that really hammered this theme home for me was during a keynote session when Axciom’s Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Tim Suther urged the media and creative agency attendees to use data to “see through the windshield and not just through the rear-view mirror”.  I agree with Suther that data’s place at the table has been to analyze historical performance rather than to use it in a predictive way to optimize in real time.   For marketers to really leverage data successfully, they must engage in both practices.

There were many conversations both in and out of the conference halls on the topic of data as well as every other hot button issue facing our industry.   As with previous summits, there were a variety of formats to encourage mingling including fun dinners, cocktail parties, and even an annual rubber duck race around the resort’s lazy river held by Gfk.   Industry buyers and sellers cheered for their race-ducks with drinks in hand poolside.

Another great summit!