5 Things We Learned at Philly Tech Week’s Digital Marketing Day

Valerie Hoke
May 3, 2017

Tim Quirino, Product Designer for Video at Facebook, thought “The Future of Video” fell a little flat as the title of his talk about Facebook Live at The Future of Digital Marketing, Philly Tech Week’s 2017 media-centric event.

So, with a slight amendment, he kicked it up a notch: “The Future is Video.”

That type of thinking was at the core of the event, held at the National Museum of American Jewish History and featuring speakers ranging from PhDs to SEO specialists.

I, along with my fellow Blasters Matthew Ray and Jackie Kollar, attended the event to keep up with all things digital. Of course, there was a lot of talk about ????content????, so we figured we ought to produce some of our own.


It’s all about the nametags, baby. 

Without further adieu, here’s what we learned at #PTW17:

Marketing is caring.

The day started off with a keynote by Roee Adler, Head of Digital at WeWork, a.k.a. that cool place that sounds like Disneyland for entrepreneurs.


WeWork Philly: Where they paint It’s Always Sunny quotes on the wall.

Adler mentioned how the people who use WeWork facilities (WeWorkers? Is that what they’re called?) are big fans of having dogs in the office, to the point that when the location of a new space is in the negotiation process, WeWork won’t move into a building unless dogs are welcome. That kind of attention and care for things that make customers happy, he said, is what makes a brand stand out.

(And hey, anybody who knows anything about CBM HQ knows that hardly a day goes by without a pup in our office. So we’re inclined to agree.)

Shiny object syndrome is real.

Ooooooh, ahhhhhh! VR! Cool headset thingys! *Grabby hands*

Yeah, no. At least not all of the time. Panelists Annie Heckenberger of Digitas, Antoinette Marie Johnson of At Media, Bo Hee Kim of Vox Media and Sovanna Mam of Greenfish dove into the pros and cons of adopting new features and technologies as soon as they’re within reach: a trend also known as shiny object syndrome.

It’s totally cool and understandable when brands or organizations jump at the chance to try new things. But not every campaign or initiative that said brand or organization undertakes needs to involve virtual reality or Snapchat geofilters or whatever new feature we’ll all be talking about next week.

Here’s the bottom line: It’s better to use a pre-existing platform well than to end up with a hot pile of garbage because your brand tried to use a new technology without fully understanding its capabilities and its value (or lack thereof) in relation to your goal.

Personas mean more than budgets.

Anyone who regularly works with clients knows the dilemma of being asked to create something magical with only a very limited budget to pull it off.

Money can’t buy personality, though, and personality is precisely what sets brands apart from each other at the end of the day. A single, quality in-person experience that involves a living, breathing human being cultivates far more brand loyalty than a handful of digital interactions.

The panelists had one major piece of advice: Find that personality, and hammer it home. (Easier said than done, sure. But infinitely more rewarding.)

Data means nothing until you do something with it.

Data, baby! All roads lead to data.  

Greg Ebbecke, Vice President of Business Intelligence at Harmelin Media, dropped some hard truths about how we use data to justify anything and everything we do.

Yes, data can be a game-changer, but it isn’t worth anything until you frame it in a way that reveals a larger trend or lesson.

Insight has to be earned—you aren’t going to get answers from data just because you collect it. According to Ebbecke, data collection projects can often take three to six months to scope, but if done correctly, those projects can yield data capable of living indefinitely.

Doodling solves all problems.*

We briefly went back to college when Natalie W. Nixon, PhD took the floor to lead an interactive workshop about design thinking.

By challenging us to collect data and create ideas to improve the commutes of average Philadelphians, Nixon effectively walked us through her strategy for incorporating design thinking into strategic problem solving.

And there was doodling. A lot of it.

(Here are mine. Please don’t ask me what they mean, because I don’t know.)

*Not all problems can be solved by doodling.

If you were also at the event, we’d love to hear your favorite moment or takeaway. Perhaps it was the Google News Lab swag or the 3 p.m. guacamole break? Let us know!