3 Things I Learned at the 2018 MarTech West Conference

As the coffee kicked in on my early morning ride to the airport, I was reminded that my trip had an exciting destination. I was bound for San Jose, California to attend MarTech West, a leading marketing technology conference that ion has attended for the past several years.

Along with Account Executive Megan Gentille, Business Development Representative Rony Phaeton, and Senior Product Specialist Jay Ojea, I represented the ion team complete with one of our conference-famous T-shirts pictured below.

 Booth 506 in action!

Booth 506 in action!

So, what did I learn at my first-ever conference? Now that the dust has settled (and my brain’s back on East Coast time), I can share the top three lessons that I learned as a newbie to the marketing technology scene.

Lesson #1: Everyone Is Looking for Something

Walking into the conference hall, I was overwhelmed. Booths were already buzzing with conversations and my mind was buzzing, too. It was incredible to experience just how many different technologies exist within the marketing ecosphere—there were solutions for just about everything, it seemed.

As we began to talk to passersby at our booth, I found that I learned best from listening to people’s day-to-day challenges in creating content. Everyone was looking for something. Something to create better content, something to drive better leads. Everyone was looking for that missing link to improve their process, their customer relationships, and ultimately, their bottom line.

Those pain-point conversations gave me great insight into marketers’ struggles, even if our services weren’t the right fit for them. From those struggles, we can create solutions, and that is where the beauty of technology comes into play.

Lesson #2: Technology Fuels Our Experiences

During some free time, Rony, Megan, and I traveled to the nearby Apple Park Visitor Center and Googleplex.

As we arrived on the Apple campus, we were near-immediately greeted with an iPad. First introduced last fall, Apple created an augmented reality experience for visitors to “see inside” areas of the campus that were off-limits to the public. As we circled around a campus model with the device, we could zoom in to each building to get a bird’s eye view. Each area was clickable with facts and trivia housed inside.

For three people working in interactive content, the experience was nothing short of fantastic.

 On the rooftop of the Apple Visitor Center. 

On the rooftop of the Apple Visitor Center. 

We set out for Google next, where we walked across the sprawling grounds. Looking around at employees chatting on Google-powered devices, I thought of how much technology has changed—even in the past several years. Not only is it fueling our experiences, but fueling the conversations we have.

Before getting dinner the next evening, Jay asked if we wanted to take “Birds.” I had no idea what he meant, but not even thirty minutes later I had the Bird app on my phone and was renting a scooter I found on a sidewalk to ride to dinner.

 Jay leads the team (on scooter!) to dinner. 

Jay leads the team (on scooter!) to dinner. 

And that’s how it goes. Technologies appear and become a part of how we talk, how we work, and how we interact with others. While a technology that provides motorized scooters may not be my thing (a surprise to no one familiar with my coordination), there are hundreds of others that have become an enduring part of my personal and professional lives—fueling the experiences I’ve built for myself and the experiences I’ve helped others build, too.

Lesson #3: Interaction, In Life as In Content, Is Key

Talking about interactive content live and in-person was an eye-opener. After our first day, my colleagues asked how it was going for me.

I was used to writing about interactive content, but not talking about it, I told them, and of course, talking about interactive content with others has revamped the way I think and write about our platform and what it has to offer.

While our conversations can thrive in a digital space thanks to technology, technology works because of the teams that are using it. Interaction is key, and I’m not just saying that because I work in interactive experiences—interaction is truly the force that moves things ahead.

Showing conference attendees examples and live demos of the experiences we create with brought this point home. Demonstrating the success of a calculator, like Symantec’s, or an assessment, like Korn Ferry’s, gave a great frame of reference for interactive content, from taking an initially static experience to building a totally reimagined, much more engaging piece.

First Conference on the Books

Great tacos, great weather, and great conversations—MarTech in San Jose was a huge success for the ion team. I came home with new perspective (and some very tired feet).

My key takeaway? Marketing technology connects. In ion’s martech “stack” designed by Art Director Matthew Bouchard, it is clear to see that the tools we use are essential to the products we create. Two winners of the MarTech Stackie Awards featured ion in their own martech stacks, and we couldn’t be more excited to play a role in their martech success.

We are grateful to MarTech for another great experience, and looking forward to attending MarTech East in the fall. If you connected with us at the conference, or are looking for more information about interactive content, we’d love to hear from you! Find us on Twitter @ioninteractive.