The goal of the conference that brought 1,200 attendees to the Gaylord Opryland Resort here was to offer a glimpse of how rapidly new technologies are fueling the shift in media consumption patterns and possibilities.
Changing fundamental realities
Speakers predicted the evolution of household communication devices will rocket ahead over the next two years and that these developments -- from wireless networking to 3-D movies, TV, DVD, podcasts and other on-demand media -- are changing the fundamental realities of the media and marketing industries.
"Consumers are now leading the discussion," said Mike Kelly, president of AOL Media Networks. "Three or four years ago, convergence was a joke. Now it's really happening."
Broadband is not only increasing the time consumers spend on the Internet, but also dramatically altering how they are using it, said Cammie Dunaway, chief marketing officer for Yahoo. "They go from communicating to socializing," she said, adding that the high-speed access also affects how consumers use media. "They go from getting sound bites to really getting the whole story."
The Internet changes are also revolutionizing music marketing. Peter Strickland, head of sales and marketing for Warner Bros. Music, said placing songs into commercials is becoming more important because it's now easier for consumers to find the musicians behind the songs. Meanwhile, buzz-marketing efforts for songs are having the effect of blurring the lines between musical genres: Radio stations that traditionally defined format lines through their playlists are increasingly having to respond to consumer tastes for songs they learn about elsewhere.
Natalie Swed Stone, director of national radio for media-buying agency OMD, said she has seen stations increase playlists from a few hundred songs to 1,200 in response to competition from the Internet and satellite radio.
In the film world, technology that allows theaters to replace film projectors with digital ones is making it to local neighborhoods, bringing with it the bonus of 3-D movies, and a number of major movies will use the technology, said Steve Schklair, managing partner of 3-D digital production services provider Cobalt Entertainment.
Bob Farnsworth, president and founder of Hummingbird Productions, a major music house for commercial production, said 3-D sound is already possible from existing TVs using special techniques that make the stereo sound seem as if it's coming from all over a room.