TFM&A 2014

Last week, I was up and on the coach before sunrise, heading to London for TFM&A 2014.  The Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference is an annual event for professionals in the marketing and advertising industry.  It provides presentations about new and upcoming technologies and innovations, information on products and services and networking opportunities.

IMG_3120Why did I go?  An excellent question!  My main reason for attending was to learn more about the digital marketing industry from a real-life perspective.  While I did work in advertising, it was only for a quick 2 years and I am far from a digital expert.  Also, being back in the classroom only provides a theoretical view of how to understand analytics or design a digital strategy.  The professionals at TFM&A not only understand what has been, they are also the ones predicting what will come in terms of social media trends, the evolution of brands and the next “big thing” in technology.  So, I wanted to surround myself with these people and pick their brains for information.

What did I learn?  More than I can put into one blog post, that’s for sure!  But let me summarise some of they key takeaways I discovered:

1. Social media has changed our lives:  Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the others out there, you can’t ignore them.  Social media outlets aren’t just for posting pictures and keeping in touch with long-lost  high school friends anymore.  They have changed the ways in which consumers consume media and how the media generates and provides information to their consumers.  I attended a keynote given by Anthony Simon, Head of Digital Communications, Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet Office, who told us how the Prime Minister uses Facebook to provide people with emotional content, such as updates on the current UK Flooding.  A few years back, this information would have most likely been disclosed in a press release but thanks to the evolution of social media, the day of the press release may be coming to an end.  You may not have seen it coming, but how we communicate has, and will continue to, change.

2. Master’s degrees aren’t what they used to be: At one point during the “Panel debate: The future of marketing – have Gen X and Gen Y got what it takes?” keynotes, I started to have second thoughts about pursuing my master’s degree.  One of the Gen X panel members make a comment about how he could care less if a future employee had some “fancy MBA” or other degree.  You can probably imagine my face changing from a smile to one that showed pure horror.  Fortunately, other people on the panel weighed in on the topic and said sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t.  But, HR departments still see it as an impressive accomplishment, which can help candidates land an interview.  They also said that a master’s degree is more about the experiences one took to achieve it.  Those experiences are what a future employer wants to hear about in an interview and those experiences are what will set up apart from the rest.

3. Passion outweighs everything:  You can be good, heck, even great at something, but if you don’t have passion for it, you might as well pack your bags.  Passion and curiosity are the key driving forces to becoming a successful marketer.  Without them, you’ll probably be out of a job.  The marketing and advertising industries are progressing before our eyes every day and you need to be ready and willing to evolve with them.  You might not know what the changes are, but that’s OK.  As long as your curiosity drives you to get out of bed every day to do something you’re passionate about, you’re going to make it.

These are just some of the many insights I gained at TFM&A 2014.  I could go on and on about statistics and data I picked up, but in the digital world, that information is probably already out of date.  However, the above takeaways are ideas I can put in my marketing toolkit and use in the coming months as I look for a job, and in my future marketing/advertising career.



Creative DigiFest

Yesterday I attended the Creative DigiFest at the De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton, England.  The morning consisted of business pitches given to a panel of 5 “Dragons”.  There were some very innovative ideas and the video gives snippets from each pitch.

As a DigiChamp, I took videos and tweeted throughout the event.  Check-out my Twtitter profile, @AmandaBobel, to see more tweets and pictures from the event or click here:  Make sure to start following me so we can explore and experience the digital marketing world together!


The University of Southampton’s Web Science Institute

Yesterday, The University of Southampton launched the Web Science Institute.  With only one other WSI in England, this is a very exciting time for the University and Web Science programme.   The Institute will study the web and the impacts it has on economics, politics, technology, and society.


(An introduction from Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam)

In an interview with BBC News, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, one of the WSI founders, said, “There is a ‘perfect storm’ brewing which combines open data, open education and open research, so this is a very exciting time to be launching the Web Science Institute.”  For the full article, check out:

In addition to the WSI launch, the University’s first MOOC went live yesterday.  This Massive Open Online Course focuses on the origins and evolution of the web.  As of yesterday, thousands have signed up for the course from all over the world.  For more information on the Web Science MOOC, and future University of Southampton MOOCs, visit the Future Learn website:

IMG_2230(Dr. Lisa Harris speaking about the Digital Economy)

Fellow DigiChamp Merel van Dijke and I were invited to the launch to conduct interviews with key members of the WSI as well as other University of Southampton Web Science staff members.  Working with Simon Morice and David Willox, we set-up video equipment, took pictures, and were prepped with questions.  When it came time to conduct the interviews, I was a bit intimidated.  Here I was, an international MSc student, ready to interview some of the most influential people in the Web Science world.

But, once we started rolling, my nerves settled and I started to enjoy the experience. Some of the people we interviewed were:

  • Vice–Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam
  • Professor, Dame Wendy Hall
  • Professor, Sir Nigel Shadbolt

They were all very nice and extremely knowledgeable, making for smooth, informative interviews.


(Interviewing Professor, Sir Nigel Shadbolt)

With the world of Web Science evolving right before our eyes, this event has made me extremely excited and curious about the knowledge and technologies that will come about in the approaching years.