It's a gorgeous day on Lake Michigan, out here on Navy Pier. I don't think I've ever seen such a great weather here -- blue sky, no wind, upper '70s. The lake looks spectacular. Tourists are everywhere here, and the Chicago people are, bar none, the best when it comes to hospitality. Why are we inside on a day like this? :-) Anyway, I got here to the conference center about 10:30 and hit the showfloor soon after it opened. Had a great conversation with Mark Carlson, CEO of SimpleFeed in his booth. This is a company with technology to help retailers, media companies, and marketers of all types use RSS feeds to sell their wares -- instead of struggling with email marketing, which he says has a whole raft of problems. SimpleFeed's online application has a dead-simple UI that lets even non-tech people set up and manage feeds -- PR people, product managers, anybody. No geek needed. The firm counts some 50 customers now, mostly Fortune 1000, but, at a minimum charge of $2000 per month, even some smaller firms are taking advantage of the service. SimpleFeed is a Sequoia-backed company and launched at DEMO '06. I remembered them from that event, and they've come a long way since then, Carlson says, increasing their customer count by 10x. Their partners include many of the major email marketing services - who, surprisingly, don't see them so much as competition, but as a natural evolution in the practice of online marketing.
The coolest really new thing I've seen so far is definitely Adjustables -- just appearing for the first time in the U.S. It has patented technology for integrating ads, banners, logos, etc within streaming online videos -- instead of those annoying pre-rolls or banners surrounding the player. The firm is based in the Netherlands (with a new office in SF), and just launched at ad:tech Hamburg in May. Their ads are clickable so the viewer can interact with the video at just the right moment -- say, when a car appears, he can click on a logo or ad for the car. The default is that, when clicked, the video pauses, while the viewer goes to the advertiser's site. The intregration of the ad with the streaming video happens on the viewer's computer. Ads can be targeted by geography or behavior. "Is anyone else doing this?" I asked cofounder and VP marketing, Menno Biesiot. He said YouTube and Metacafe are working on something similar, but his firm sees this as validation, and leading to standard-setting in this area of much-needed innovation. The software is available now for download at the company's site, and a demo is available there. I was impressed with the presentation, and with the look and minimalism of the ads. Not too distracting, about as tasteful as ads can be in this medium, from what I've seen. Check it out and see what you think.
Off to a lunch session now, sponsored by Avenue A|Razorfish, about "The New Brand Equity."