Social Commerce at Ad:Tech 2006

The “Social Commerce” panel I spoke on Tuesday at Ad:Tech has been receiving praise as one of the best of the conference. I think it is deserved, though not due to any self-importance or coolness of the companies represented. The panel was great because everyone came ready to share their thoughts, learned lessons, and advice on how to engage social networks with tools for commerce – how to mashup the worlds of socialization with the traditionally closed silos of financial transactions.

Much respect to Stephen DiMarco of Compete for employing a format which helped limit the all-to-familiar powerpoint abuse issues at most events like these. Each person was given one question to answer using one slide and about ten minutes of time. Everyone abided by the rules, resulting in useful information being shared with the few hundred strong audience.

According to the Ad:Tech blog post on the panel, I said this at one point:

“Most social sites lean heavily on the audience to build the content and evangelize. To do this, he emphasizes exposing consumers to a deeper amount of content to encourage additional engagement.” Sounds good to me! I tend to go into auto-pilot mode when I get onstage, always saying interesting and sometimes profound things, but not really remembering any of it later.

Jeffrey Taylor, founder of, and most recently EONS, a sort of MySpace for the 50+ boomer crowd. Jeffrey seemed most excited to talk about how EONS is now doing infomercial style television ads, and how great the response has been. Apparently, its not as expensive as you think, and with his older target userbase, it completely makes sense.

David Andre spoke about the interesting work Mall Networks is doing engaging with known brands such as NASCAR. Every major brand wants their own commerce site, social networking site, and more recently photo and video sharing site, and these guys are right in the middle of that trend, stopping corporate america from poorly reinventing the wheel, while building customer loyalty in all the right ways.

Geoff Donaker of Yelp demonstrated that if you give people something to do, around a topic they care about, they will go at it like gangbusters. It was also interesting to learn that Yelp started as a social workflow application – connecting people with needs to those who might be able to fulfill the goal (i.e. “I need a babysitter tonight – anyone?”) – would have been a great app! Now Yelp is squarely focused on user generated reviews of local services – restaurants, doctors, bars, salons – (“Where’s the yakatori joint in Manhattan?”) Think Citysearch, but turned on its head so the reviews are the most important aspect of the site.

I had great time meeting all of these gentleman, and was honored to speak alongside. Best of luck to you all.

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