AMA’s mPlanet conference addresses ‘seismic’ changes in the marketing industry

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Orlando, Fla.—The American Marketing Association's inaugural mPlanet conference, nearly two years in the making, opened Thursday morning, attracting nearly 1,000 to the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort.

"There has never been a better time than right now to be in marketing," said AMA CEO Dennis L. Dunlap in his keynote address. But there are huge challenges, too, he added, providing a list of "seismic and rapid changes" in the marketing landscape, including the fragmentation of media channels, particularly the powerful influence of social media.

"To a large extent, marketers no longer own their brands," he said.

To deal with these challenges, Dunlap recommended that marketers champion growth and innovation, drive innovation enterprise-wide, be obsessive about understanding customers, and embrace accountability. He also said they should "support the short term, manage for the long term, deliver on both."

Dunlap also discussed the well-worn issues of marketing metrics, ROI and accountability—pressures he said marketers must contend with if they are to remain "credible and effective."

The three-day mPlanet conference features smaller sessions and more emphasis on dialogue with the audience—as well as an airy exhibit hall floor plan—reflecting feedback from the AMA's survey of 1,600 marketing professionals, Dunlap said.

Dunlap was followed on stage by Randall Stephenson, COO of AT&T, who spoke about his company’s efforts to consolidate its offerings (voice, video, wireless) around IP technology. He also discussed AT&T’s effort around IP-based advertising, in which messages can be directed to "large groups, small groups, even individual set-top boxes" and mobile devices.

Stephenson said AT&T was now surveying CMOs about the features they would like in IP advertising and plans a large-scale IP advertising trial next year.

—Ellis Booker

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