Held in New Orleans, LA from Apr. 25-29, Collision Conference brought together innovative app developers, tech and pop culture journalists, investors and venture capitalists, influencers, musicians and representatives of notable names in tech.
Participants came from around the world, with heavy representations from India, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
I covered the event for the SEMrush Blog. The SEMrush fox found its way into my luggage and made itself known upon my arrival!
Collision's versatile setup allowed a different focus for each day. I was especially interested in the marketing stage and camped out there for an entire day.
The Collision Marketing Stage: Highlights
The Power of an Off-Platform Strategy
Over the last few years, others in the tech blogging sphere have offered me varying (and opposing) degrees of advice about how to use social media to market content. Primarily, the advice has been focused around driving traffic back to the blogs I manage – after all, that's the whole point of social.
However, that's not how readers think, and CNN leads a strategy that puts readers first and commits to reaching and retaining them where they go: on social media sites.
CNN Head of Social Media and Senior Director of Strategy for CNN Worldwide Samantha Barry provided some examples of CNN's social content. CNN is fully invested in providing compelling, updated news feeds on social media.
The journey from social portal to CNN.com feels effortless as a reader because it's as integrated as possible; you're clicking to read the next chapter in an unfolding story.
In short: you shouldn't be afraid of revealing information off-platform if that's where your audience lives. It's vital that you reach them there.
What else do users dislike? Autoplaying sound, CNN discovered. That's why CNN Snapchat edition doesn't include it, Barry demonstrated:
Lastly, Barry noted the importance of messaging apps. These apps represent how people communicate; again, it's where they live, so the news should live there as well.
New Native on the Block: The Power of Video Content
At SEMrush, we know that video content is a huge deal. People remember video content better than other formats, and many marketers are shifting their budgets to accommodate. Many businesses and publications struggle to keep up with the demand for video, so I was eager to hear an expert view on how marketers should use video to advertise successfully.
This discussion included insights from Adam Singolda, CEO at Taboola, Joe Lazauskas, Editor-in-Chief at Contently, and Melanie Deziel, Branded Content Strategy Consultant at The Overlap League.
Singolda also noted that the Facebook-like in-feed format creates a better video ad experience for viewers and readers.
Agencies and clients need a way to measure video advertising metrics, and right now many agencies and advertisers struggle with this. Joe Lazauskas discussed how the video view metric provided by Facebook can appear high, though this number reflects many short in-feed view counts. This benefits Facebook because they want people to invest in Facebook video advertising.
Signola suggested video shares and time in video might be more valuable metrics.
Saving Online Advertising
In a discussion about the future of digital advertising, Shenan Reed (President Digital, MEC Global) discussed meeting the challenge of ad blockers in a way that doesn't disrupt the user experience or drive them away from content.
The biggest challenge in digital advertising is how overtly disruptive and annoying these ads consistently seem. Reed noted how awful this experience is for consumers, and how ads interrupt experiences consumers enjoy.
If advertising can enhance the content users are there to see, it has a chance of succeeding. Reed's three-pronged approach for solving this issue:
App Design and Development Trends
Many of the apps showcased at Collision focused around education and travel, or a mixture of the two. New York-based Cinderly was the most innovative standout, allowing users to 'meet your style destiny' by showcasing and celebrating their unique fashion in a troll-free app environment.
Their outgoing marketing style really caught my attention – I wish more marketers could learn the art of being zany without overdoing it.
Who were your Collision favorites? What did you learn from the conference? Let us know in the comments!
Note: In some instances, mentioned panelists were interviewers or moderators, so their insights are not mentioned with as much prevelance as those answering the questions.