Istanbul Conference Report


Heather and Karina arrived in Istanbul on Monday afternoon. After the long queues at the airport and finally getting their luggage, it proved to be an eventful and long journey to the hotel. This was only preparing them for the insanely heavy traffic that consumes Istanbul, which everyone encountered the entire week.

On Tuesday we started the day off meeting the hotel staff, finalizing conference details and of course putting together the conference materials, that were so greatly delivered to us by conference hosts Sahibinden! In the afternoon we did a little site seeing from the van on our way to the boat and gala party venues, to make sure that was all set to go.


We had an early start Wednesday morning for the ICMA Board of Directors meeting to discuss among other things the theme for the next conference, next destinations and of course the budget.

After a quick lunch we loaded delegates on the bus for the Classic Tour of Istanbul. Due to crazy traffic again, there was only time to visit the Hagia Sophia, but this place is amazing and well worth visiting. When the delegates returned they registered and pick up their conference. The welcome reception kicked off Wednesday evening in which we welcomed nearly 135 ICMA delegates from 30 countries. Martha de la Torre, CEO of El Clasificado and Chair of ICMA opened with a warm welcome introducing our two new members, first time attendees and highlighting the great support of associate members and vendors!


The delegates were welcomed by Martha de la Torre’s avatar enticing everyone to take a seat and ended up belly dancing in her fabulous opening video, officially opening the ICMA “SoLoMo” 2012 Conference. Martha and her ‘friends’ shared their views of what they think 2013 will bring. If you would like to watch it again, you can find it on the ICMA YouTube Channel.

Peter Lamb gratefully took on the role of emcee again for the conference and welcomed the first speaker Gary Gale, Director Places Nokia Location & Commerce at Nokia. Gary gave us his view of whether or not we should implement SoLoMo, or just social, local and mobile. It was a bit funny how he used Friday-Ad as an example while Rob Paterson, Group Managing Director was sitting in the front row. Gary was followed by Halvard Kristiansen, Head of Behavioral Targeting from Schibsted, he shared his knowledge on how to optimize online campaigns. He used the example of how doctors always knew he already received his pills, yes, what a bummer.

After the coffee break, Jacob Arriola, Senior Manager, Business Development of El Clasificado gave us a presentation of the project the Future Leaders Network had launched, a survey on how Social Media is being used within member organizations.

We than gave the floor to Marc Prioleau, Managing Director of Prioleau Advisors and his panel members, Felix Erken, Managing Director & Co-Owner of Junk Mail, Gary Gale, Nokia, Brandon Kleinman, Director of Strategy & Tim Shea, Product Development Lead from TBWA\Chiat\Day and Rob Paterson, Group Managing Director of Friday Media Group. Of course after a quick panel discussion, Greg Kidd, Founder and CEO of 3Taps closed the morning session with the question, ‘who actually owns the data?´.

After lunch the associate members, sponsors and exhibitors hosted the ICMA Vendor Round Table Networking session by exchanging business cards and providing their best case study to the participants. After tabulating the evaluations, we would like to announce that Artirix from the UK was the highest rated by the participants and has earned a presentation slot for the “Marketplace Innovations” conference 17-20 April 2013 in Cologne, Germany.


The “Sharing Best Practice” sessions were rated the highest on the evaluation forms again, they are the top sessions of the conference, thanks to your input! The Business Leaders session received an overall score of 94%! One suggestion for this session is ´to take predictions from members & reveal them at following conference,’ that could be very interesting. The IT session received 100% for relevance with a 98% rating overall and Sales Managers was not far off with a 97,6%. A sincere thank you to the ICMA Board of Directors, as well as Adam Winter and AJ Lemke, Gabriela Martin del Campo and Jody Epp who facilitated each group’s discussions. And let’s not forget Koen Vandaele and Rob Hage, Mitch Christow and Jody Epp for developing the metrics. If you have any metric suggestions for any of the respective sessions please email karina(at)

Thursday evening it rained a little, which made the traffic in the city even worse which had us waiting a bit for the buses. When they finally arrived we were off for a short drive to the Bosphorus where we went on board of the Boran Para for a river cruise. On board we enjoyed a lovely Turkish Dinner accompanied by some local music, while enjoying the European and Asian river shore. Upon returning to the hotel, some of the delegates enjoyed a few drinks at the Roof Top Bar to enjoy conversation amongst the most amazing views of the city.


Friday started off with a presentation by Marc Prioleau, Managing Director of Prioleau Advisors, outlining which parts of SoLoMo can most benefit the classified marketplaces. According to Marc, social will be the dominant factor, while location transforms from What´s Near to What´s Relevant. Following in this train of thought was Elisa Camahort Page, Co-Founder and COO of BlogHer Inc. who also highlighted the importance of the trust factor of the social media. The last speaker before the coffee break was Shay Rapaport, CEO and Co-Founder of SiteBlackBox, who gave us a quick introduction of what their solution is to removing bots off your website.

The second session of the day kicked off with Tiia Näsänen, Business Manager at Sanoma Digital / Sanoma News turning classifieds into something more, followed by Emre Ersahin, CMO of’s view on this subject. We then welcomed Nick de Mey, Founder of the Board of Innovation, who showed us how to find new ways to make money, by looking at other industries and other ecosystems.


The afternoon was taken up with five rotating workshops on SoLoMo, SEO Tips & Tricks, How to be Loved by Strangers in 30 Minutes, Your Data is Not Big, and Getting From Here to There. Delegates had the option to attend three of the five over the course of the afternoon.

The workshops provided a solid opportunity for the delegates to really learn and apply the leanings to their own businesses which was evident in the high marks received.

Anne Kennedy, SES Advisory Board; International Search Strategist and Author, Beyond Ink, led the SoLoMo workshop providing an insight on how to easily implement SoLoMo. The SEO Tips & Tricks session was the top rated speaker session of the whole conference with Even Fishkin, Associate Director, Search Marketing of Digitas providing tips and tricks to help successfully navigate SEO.

How to Get Lots of Strangers to Love You in 30 Minutes, run by Brandon Kleinman, Director of Strategy of TBWA\Chiat\Day, informed the delegates on how to get your communities growing online and offline. Your Data Is Not Big. And Why You Don’t Want It to Be was hosted by Tim Shea, Product Development Lead of TBWA\Chiat\Day, showing some dazzling array of tools available and how to use them to your advantage. Bob Warwick, Owner of Whole Punk Creators gave us a view of Getting From Here to There, discussing the fact that mobile is hot, and which concrete steps will take you there.

Friday night was left free for ICMA delegates to make their own plans, in which some headed off to exclusive locations in Istanbul, and some ended up two blocks away after an extensive tour around the hotel.



Martha de la Torre chaired the Members Meeting which discussed the Head Office projects highlighting the current membership count, rate increase for the conferences, the financials and change of the bylaws. The 2012 budget vote passed unanimously. Koen Vandaele, Manager IT & Digitale Media Services at Concentra Media decided to step down after many years. Thanks for all your support Koen, you will be missed! If anyone would like to suggest or support a new Board Member to be elected at the next conference, please inform Karina who will forward this to the Nominee Committee. Burak Ertas, CEO of has agreed to stay on as a Board Member! Thank you to those who participated in this meeting and we continue to welcome any feedback and suggestions you have to improve upon the Association, please feel free to contact Karina.

Business Leaders’ Forum (BLF)

The BLF was chaired by Burak Ertas, CEO of, and supported by Peter Lamb. Burak did an excellent job receiving highest ratings since Vienna 2010, for his chairing and discussed in detail the challenges publishers are currently facing and how to overcome them to ensure continued profitability and business success. Burak also took the delegation on a little trip in the afternoon to their new offices, Google-style, everyone was pretty impressed.

Business Operations Forum (BOF)

This session focused on three main business operations – sales, marketing and ICT. The dedication to your own specialty while also participating and learning more about the other departmental needs, allowing for smoother operations overall and some excellent ideas on how to work as an even more solid team. It was great watching them work together with lots of post-its and color markers. Eero Korhonen now Industry Head for finance, travel and local at Google did an amazing job!

Sales Managers Workshop (SMW)

The SMW was chaired by Jody Epp, COO, Semadic, Canada. The Istanbul SMW discussed the critical questions such as how best to lead a sales force and idea sharing cross continents. I am sure the Sales Managers that attended came home with many new ideas to be implemented upon return to the office. Thanks Jody for your interaction, insights and stories!


The Gala Party was held at the gorgeous Sait Halim Pasa, the empire-style mansion. It was a great night, we started off with cocktails, followed by dinner in this amazing room with a painting from 1865, where everything in the painting followed you through the room. After a big thank you to Koen for his time on the Board, by Martha, Felix and Rob, it was time to party! First the Macarena, and yes everyone joined, followed later in the evening by a salsa lesson from Jacob and Delia Arriola, made this a great night. We finished the evening with a group picture on the amazing stairs of the venue! Thank you for hosting such an amazing gala party!

Thank you to the outstanding speakers, facilitators, and chairpersons for ensuring another outstanding ICMA Conference! A special thank you to the conference host for helping the Head Office organize the social events and treating us like family while we were in Istanbul. We woudl also like to send out a huge thank you to our associate members and vendors, the ICMA Future Leaders Network and the ICMA Board of Directors for all of their support. And of course all of you who make ICMA the one of a kind Association it is today!

We look forward to seeing you all again at the ICMA “Marketplace Innovations” conference 17-20 April 2013 in Cologne, Germany.