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CTAM Conference Goes Hollywood

Feb 3, 2008  •  Post A Comment

This year’s CTAM Research Conference, running Feb. 6-8 and expected to draw 400 attendees, will take advantage of its proximity to Hollywood studios, from the opening keynote with “CSI” creator and executive producer Anthony Zuiker to the post-conference VIP studio tour of Sony Pictures.
Mr. Zuiker’s opening-night talk on Wednesday will chart his path to creating the award-winning “CSI” and its sister shows “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: New York”—and, especially, the evolution to a multiplatform property.
According to Clay Collier, VP of research for the Cable & Telecommunications Association of Marketing event, that development ties in perfectly with this year’s theme: “Media Transformers: Now Playing Everywhere.”
“These were things we were talking about as coming, and we were predicting how people would react,” said CTAM Research Conference Co-Chair Reece Ritter, director of marketing at Cox Communications. “Now we’re measuring rather than prognosticating.”
Conference Co-Chair David Primuth, VP of research and media planning for GSN, said the format of this year’s conference has changed. “We came up with three acts, a little different way to focus the conference,” he said. Each act focuses on a theme and starts with a keynote that leads into a general session, with several experts continuing the theme in a discussion format, and finally breaks off into individual sessions.
Act one focuses on technology. “We have been talking for several years about the changes coming in technology,” said Ms. Ritter. “We’ve got video on cell phones, broadband video, on-demand everywhere. The transformation isn’t coming anymore; all the things we’ve been talking about are here.”
Act one’s keynote, on Wednesday will feature two speakers: Blair Westlake, corporate VP of Microsoft’s media and entertainment group, and Scott Brown, Nielsen Media Research’s senior VP of strategic relationships, marketing and technology. The general session that follows focuses more specifically on how these technological changes are transforming the business, with panelists Dan Cohen, senior VP/general manager at Buena Vista Television; Neil Goldberg, chief operating officer of Akimbo; Colleen Langer, VP of marketing and sales at Cox Communications Orange County; and Geoff Smith, product manager of Google TV Ads. The session will be moderated by Holly Leff-Pressman, senior VP of Nielsen’s on-demand and television practice.
The breakout sessions that follow it will include a roundtable discussion to investigate how cable can best help consumers adopt new technologies; a focus on determining the impact of promotion in podcasts; and an open forum allowing participants to ask questions and dig deeper into the topics discussed in the general session.
Act two looks at consumers, including both how they are being transformed by technology and how they are agents of change. The first event features two opening keynote addresses, by TV Land President Larry W. Jones and Melissa Lavigne, director of marketing at the Intelligence Group.
During the general session—“Word on the Street: Making Sense of Real Media Behaviors”—researchers will debate the media habits of baby boomers and millennials. The session will include audience participation in interpreting videotapes of these two generations. “Consumers aren’t just reacting to changes in technology,” said Ms. Ritter. “They are also driving change in technology.” The event will be moderated by Lee Hunt, president of Lee Hunt LLC, with a panel consisting of Jess Aguirre, senior VP of research at Hallmark Channel; Colleen Fahey-Rush, executive VP of research at MTV Networks; Philip Polk, director of segmentation at Cox Communications; and Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting System.
The breakout business sections examine how to navigate the world of accelerating media transformation with the consumer in mind; a behind-the-scenes look at how teens engage with new-media technologies; and an open forum for Q&A.
The nuts and bolts of research are the emphasis of act three, which begins Thursday afternoon with a keynote by Jon Mandel, CEO at Nielsen Connect. “This act looks at changes in technologies and how changes in consumers are changing how we researchers connect with people, as well as the impact of going purely wireless,” said Ms. Ritter.
The business session, “Insights With Impact,” drills down into that topic, giving attendees “new takes on making the most out of your digital digging, and turning research results into the stuff of wise decisions.” Moderated by Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for the Leichtman Research Group, the session features speakers Paul Linquist, president of the Harrison Group; Dr. A.K. Pradeep, president-CEO of NeuroFocus; Tiffany Stroupe, manager of consumer insights at Taco Bell; and David Tice, VP/group account director of custom research at Knowledge Networks and director of its Home Technology Monitor.
Breakout sessions include an examination of real-life case studies of biometric monitoring to see true, unbiased consumer reaction and the Digital Town Hall featuring a Q&A open forum with the panelists, for those wanting more information on new methodologies and consumer perceptions.
Another highlight is the Grand Finale, featuring keynoter David Wertheimer, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center. Finally, CTAM President-CEO Char Beales will moderate predictions for the future from Rich Battista, CEO of Gemstar-TV Guide International; Preston Beckman, executive VP of strategic program planning for Fox Broadcasting; and Mark Goldman, chief operating officer of Current TV.
This year’s CTAM Research Conference marks an anniversary: It has been 25 years since 10 or 15 people met in Chicago for the organization’s first research conference.
Mr. Collier noted that for those first meetings, each researcher had to bring a marketer. “The interesting point now is that, 25 years later, the biggest growth in attendance is from marketers who are coming back voluntarily because they realize researchers have the most up-to-date information about consumers,” he said. “We no longer spend as much time on the intricacies of gathering information. We talk about the process of understanding the consumers and how information is used to make decisions.”
And then there are all the opportunities to network and schmooze. “I think it’s the only time the research community gets together every year,” Mr. Primuth said. “We’ve really tried to focus on the content of the conference and that sense of community to make sure we have opportunities for people to interact.”

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