Digital Conference

Gary Vaynerchuk's Top 11 Hits at the Ad Age Digital Conference

'Marketers Ruin Everything,' Vaynerchuk Tells Marketers, 'It's What We Do'

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It's a mistake to try to boil down Gary Vaynerchuk, the frenetic entrepreneur-turned-agency CEO at VaynerMedia, when he's sweeping his gaze across the whole of media and marketing, as he did at Day Two of the Ad Age Digital Conference on Wednesday. So we're not going to try.

But we do have these 11 hits from his presentation. (We're also not going to edit for language.)

Photo: Patrick Butler
Photo: Patrick Butler

"Marketers ruin everything," he said. "It's what we do." Marketers try to find a place where people are spending time and squeeze the living crap out of it.

"I'm a fan of traditional media," he said. "I just don't believe in its price in 2014." When a whole room of marketers is fast forwarding every commercial they can, Mr. Vaynerchuk argued, we have to debate the fact that the price for a commercial might not be properly the same as it was a few years ago.

The only way to grab attention is to either guilt people into it or to provide so much value that you win.

Uber, where Mr. Vaynerchuk is a backer, is going to work because it's selling time: You'll pay the surge pricing because you need those seven minutes. (It's the same reason you fast-forward through commercials.)

"The easiest way to go out of business is to be romantic about how you make your money." It's surprising how many CEOs are not incentivizing their employees to innovate, he said. You want a coach that game-plans all week, loses in the first half, adjusts in halftime and wins the game.

Related: "The reason Blockbuster went out of business is because they decided their data showed that people liked the experience of going to their fucking stores," Mr. Vaynerchuk said. It could've bought Netflix.

Facebook may be the worst PR-ed company in all time. Sometimes, when Facebook makes the product better for users it becomes worse for brands. That's good -- but it's often portrayed as a failure in the press.

"We do not think about utility enough," he said. "We do think about escapism. We definitely think about the social stuff." The reason consumers' calendar apps are on their home screens is because they're utilities. More marketers need to be useful.

"I would buy a Super Bowl ad over almost anything." That's because it's live and attention is growing. But the rest of TV is still seeing that incredible commercial avoidance.

Marketers don't challenge conventional wisdom. In some of his first meetings years ago, Mr. Vaynerchuk recalled, people were asking what's the ROI of social media? His head exploded when he answered that by asking about the ROI of TV, print and outdoor -- and learned how archaic the measurement was there. "We all know, but we're stuck."

"You can still sell books in a brick and mortar store, it's just not as good an idea as it was in 1990." Market for today. "We need to market in the year that we actually fucking live in."

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