CTAM Summit Officials Want Attendees To Connect With Actionable Takeaways, Best Practices

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In just over three weeks, CTAM will host its 2010 Summit in New Orleans and cable's marketing organization says the event is pacing toward reaching its attendance target of 1900.
"We're on track," CTAM president and CEO Beales said during a Sept. 23 phone conference with event co-chairs, Jon Hargis, executive vice president of marketing and advertising for Cablevision Systems Corp. and Janet Rolle, executive vice president and CMO at BET Networks and reporters.
Sporting the tag line, "Connect. Innovate. Connection.", this year's CTAM Summit is scheduled for Oct. 18-20 at the New Orleans Riverside Hotel. Beales was encouraged by the performance of events at the industry's recent Diversity Week, where the 24th annual NAMIC Conference attracted some 560 attendees and the WICT Leadership Conference scored a 25% attendance advance from the previous year.

"We're optimistic about making our goal," she said, before cautioning that the "economy is tough."
Last year's CTAM Summit drew 1983 attendees to Denver, where the industry gathered for Cable Connection -- Fall. This time around, the CTAM Summit is being flanked in NOLA by the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Oct. 20-22 and the WICT Tech It Out Breakfast. Beales said each conference has its "own audience with little crossover."
She's also encouraged by sponsor participation as 40 companies have ties to the upcoming CTAM Summit, including seven newcomers: Universal Sports, Canoe Ventures, Jungo, ChoiceStream, WeTV, The Platform and BBC World News.

Beales said the composition of the audience for the Summit, which will move to New York next year, Orlando in 2012, and then back to the Big Apple, has changed over the years, in lockstep with the industry's evolution. CTAM's top event, in addition to its core marketing contingent, now attracts more development executives, as well as those engaged in digital media management on the network side, according to Beaeles.

There are also a lot more senior level folks in attendance, too, a function of the economy. "We're getting a lot of executives at the vice president level and higher," she said. "There are fewer mid-level executives, who are not getting as many opportunities to travel."

For those who do venture to the Crescent City, Summit officials want to ensure that attendees take home more than memories of Cajun or Creole delectables, or indelible riffs by jazz or zydeco musicians.

"Our goal is to have attendees leave with three to five actionable ideas and/or best practices that will more than make up for the bandwidth and time they spent away from the office and ultimately result in smart ROI for their company in sending them to the Summit," said Rolle.

Hargis, who has been to the last nine CTAM Summits and spent the past two as a member of the group's planning committee, said sessions on interactive TV would be compelling. During "ITV Idol: Ground Breaking Applications" attendees will learn how ITV can impact business, generate revenue and engender retention and customer loyalty. Moreover, they will get to vote on their favorite application, crowning the winners with the inaugural "CTAM Summit Get Interactive Awards." Said Hargis: "It's an interactive session on interactive TV."

He's also enthused about the direct marketing sessions. "Direct marketing has always been a key component for MSOs. It can be tracked for ROI and we can assess the metrics well," he said. "But direct marketing is changing and there are new applications through mobile and social media that can be used as fresh tactics."

Rolle also pointed Summit attendees toward "Stretching Beyond the Obvious: Half Day Social Media Immersion" program from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 19.

"This is an evolving, exciting topic. Marketers can harness these sessions to find ideas and best social media practices they can integrate into overall strategies for campaigns," she said.

To that end, this year's Summit will also give visitors a chance to get explore the ideas and strategies that sparked the Mark Award-winning campaigns.via question-and-answer periods with some of the attendant executives.

Other points of interest include a panel on the burgeoning world of 3D, "How Does 3D Sharpen Stories and Brands?" and a vuvuzela-free (we think) research recap on how fans consumed multiplatform coverage from the 2010 FIFA World Cup from South Africa, entitled "Cross-Media Connections: 64 Things ESPN Learned from the World's Biggest Sporting Event."

And as Beales has been wont to say over the years, this being CTAM, there are partying, er, networking opportunities to the close the first two days of the Summit.

USA Network on Oct. 18 will host a Characters Unite event, "A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power at Generations Hall" from 9 p.m. to midnight. The evening will include a story from Jacqui Vines, the senior vice president and general manager of Cox Louisiana.

On Oct. 19, Rainbow Media, MSG and Fuse invite Summit attendees to a three-stage soiree at the House of Blues to benefit the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music from 9 p.m. to midnight