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The Data Proves It: The 2017 Spark Marketing Summit Rocked!

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TrackMaven’s Spark Marketing Summit, now in its fifth year, once again proved to be one of the most successful and valuable such conferences in the industry.

The 2017 summit brought together an elite group of digital and content marketing leaders to explore the future of marketing, analytics, and technology-assisted creativity. The experience gave marketers a sense of clarity and renewed focus during a time when many feel overloaded by new technology and data.

There was a sense of empowerment and bolstered confidence, as every session left attendees with actionable takeaways to improve their marketing performance. Speakers such as Ari Isaacman Bevacqua, growth strategy editor for The New York Times; Baratunde Thurston, co-founder of Cultivated Wit; two EVPs from Viacom, Ross Martin and Kern Schireson; and TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett provided incredible insights and inspiration to an enthusiastic crowd.

In addition to these powerful talks, the rest of the conference agenda also went over well with the Spark attendees. (Even the playlist was a hit!)

Emily Morris, director of global marketing at Sotheby’s Institute, says, “The content was amazing. The speakers they bring in are so varied. Beverly Jackson, vice president of social media and content strategy for MGM Resorts International, was on top of her game. She really embodied that adage of ‘show, don’t tell.’ We came away inspired.”

“And Rochelle Stewart, director of digital and social strategy for Conde Nast, was exceptional. She was stunning in terms of talking about the tactical, the political and the strategic in a really complex organization,” adds Emily.

“I really liked Alex Skatell from Independent Journal Review,” says Adina Leibler, director of strategic partnerships at HIRO Media. “He was interesting, engaging, and enthusiastic. He seems like a great CEO, and a lot of brands that want to learn how to become modern publishers can learn from him.”

Every Spark participant had their own goals for attending.

“I know some of the people on the TrackMaven team,” Emily shared. “We’ve been using TrackMaven for a while and it’s nice to be able to meet with them in person and connect with them on a human level. But the content was a huge part of my reason for attending.”

Adina was looking for ways to diversify their business offerings. “We want to learn about how the digital landscape is being tackled by small to medium brands, and how we have to find our business strategy and customize our offering within that space. I think I’ve learned enough to make some really solid recommendations for what my business’ next steps should be.”

Timothy Brixius, social media strategist for Franklin & Marshall College, is a repeat Spark participant, having attended last year’s conference in addition to the TrackMaven workshop for customers prior to the main event. “The workshop was a good hands-on experience in terms of how TrackMaven works and how we can use it in our specific use-cases. Being from an educational institution/non-profit, there can be some differences between how we operate and that of others.”

As far as this year’s conference, Timothy says, “I think it’s a good mix of interesting, relevant topics and knowledgeable people from various organizations. The experience from year-to-year was consistently good. My role has recently changed from that of content creator to that of content strategist, so I’m trying to think of ways to work with other members of my team to create content and think of ways we can channel that creativity in a way that will help us meet our goals and connect us with our audiences.”

Even the speakers had positive things to say about Spark.

Christine Schaefer, CMO of ThreatConnect, spoke about how to effectively use data without turning into “Big Brother.” According to Christine, “Everyone is coming open-minded to try or learn new things. They’re not coming to network with the same people they used to talk to or keep hearing their own echo chamber. They’re coming to learn something new and that makes it better for all of us who attend.”

When asked about the value that the Spark marketing conference brings to the industry, Christine answered, “I think it’s looking at things in a new way, a way that other conferences haven’t before. I like the mix of the types of marketers they’re bringing in and the breadth of knowledge that they’re getting, taking new angles and ideas away from it all. But it’s still grounded in a certain amount of metrics and analytics, and as you can tell from my talk, it’s essential to put them together effectively.”

The day concluded with a hilarious and insightful keynote from Baratunde Thurston, co-founder of Cultivated Wit, comedian, and writer who helped re-launch “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah. He spoke about the role of data in today’s media, how he leveraged them in his various roles at The Onion and “The Daily Show,” and what lessons marketers can take from his experiences.

In summary

The 2017 Spark digital marketing conference was a resounding success by any measure, but what really mattered most was the value it brought to attendees. One of Spark’s key goals is educating attendees in the increasing importance of data in everything from social media to content marketing to marketing ROI.

Christine Schaefer summed it up best. “There’s no way we can escape it now. There’s no other way marketing is going to get to the level of efficiency and respect at the executive level if we’re to push forward. It’s not going away.”

And neither is Spark. See you next year!

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