Berlin GM Report
GM Berlin

I arrived in Berlin on Monday 3 May, despite a persistent cough, my excitement for the coming days was only heightened upon arrival at the beautiful Hotel Concorde Berlin where we would be spending the coming days. I quickly settled in and made the rounds for all the social venues meeting with the hotel first meet the team who would be taking care of us for the week, then by metro to visit the Thursday night dinner venue for the first time Matzbach-Berlin (thanks to a recommendation from one of our Berlin member contacts) and finally onto Wasserwerks, which those of you who attended can attest this is hands down the best Gala Party venue to date.

The ICMA Office was set up thanks to the help of Gabriela Martin and Melvin Ortiz from El Clasificado who did double duty in Berlin, being both attendee and ICMA onsite staff. Their efficiently was much appreciate as we had the folders collated, badges prepared, presentations photo-copied, last-minute registrations (which were still coming in!) and also any changes handled in time plenty of time to join the ICMA Committee for dinner in the unique Savignyplatz off the Ku’damm in Berlin.

WEDNESDAY
GM Berlin

Wednesday welcomed 130 ICMA delegates from 30 different countries to Berlin despite the threat of the ash cloud resurfacing in Ireland and the UK (we should mention that a few arrivals were delayed due to mother nature having the last word). Rob Paterson, Group Managing Director of Friday Ad and Chairperson of ICMA gave his last welcome as ICMA chairperson introducing our nine new members, first time attendees and thanking the exhibitors and sponsors for their attendance (ISV, Sensi Soft, Fiare Oy, ATG, Freespee, Idomoo, Adaan, and Camao). There was a true excitement with ICMA members reconnecting with one another and welcoming the new attendees into the “ICMA family.”

THURSDAY
GM Berlin

Rob formally opened the conference sessions, by announcing this will be his last opening as the ICMA chairperson as he will be standing down after extending his 2 year commitment to 3 years to see ICMA through the economic crisis, which he has done in exceptional fashion. Rob then opened with the theme of the conference “Classifieds EVOLVE or die” and highlighted that publishers need to get onboard and take action to avoid ending up like a turkey at Thanksgiving, highlighting the latest online trends with Facebook replacing e-mail, likes replacing links….

The Keynote Address was given by Senior Vice President, Content & Editorial, Demand Media, USA. Jeremy informed us that content is still king and that their model is based on ROI, with the focus to create a sustainable media model whatever the economic climate. Jeremy also highlighted the needs their content addresses: solves problems, answers questions, saves money, saves time and makes people laugh. The delegates left with much food for thought on how to translate such ROI driven content to classifieds.

After the coffee-break, the focus moved onto technology kicking off with the Future is Mobile session in which Benjamin Mosse, Head of Business Solutions, Nokia, Germany, informed the delegates about the Nokia OVI platform. Bernhard Neubauer, General Manager, ISV GmbH, Germany also participate in this session digging deeper into mobile apps highlighting the classified apps that are already in the market. Ricardo Amaro, Internet Director, Ocasião Classificados, Portugal was next on deck informing the delegates how Openstandards are connected with SEO and how Opensource can help businesses to respond quickly to competitors. The second session of the day closed with a panel session on Outsourcing Development with Koen Vandaele, Operations Director, Concentra Classifieds N.V., Belgium, facilitating the session as the panelists Kirsi Johansson, Sales Manager, Fiare Oy, Finland, Tünde-Csilla Fülöp, Chief Operations Officer, Art-Soft Consulting, Romania, Sumita Arora, Head of Operations, Adaan Business Solutions, India fielded questions on the common pitfalls and cost structure of outsourcing.

SHARING BEST PRACTICE
GM Berlin

The “Sharing Best Practice” sessions, were once again extended to the full afternoon sessions. In the Business Leaders session we had data submitted from 39 companies and a total of 51 participants – thanks very much to the ICMA committee members – Rob, Josef, Pekka, Koen, Sidharth and Martha for facilitating each group’s discussions. The overall score of nearly 93% satisfaction demonstrates how valuable participants continue to find this session. We plan to continue the SBP sessions with new and improved metrics for the Vienna ICMA conference. Pease send any suggestions to shay@icmaonline.org.

The sales managers were not to be left out, they dove into a series of sales-oriented metrics with their respective groups have already offered up some excellent suggestions for the Vienna SBP Sales session.

And for the first time ever we added the ICT SBP session which was a true success with a 91% overall rating, and some very interesting discussions.

The evening had us boarding the buses (Berlin is too big to walk anywhere… luckily for the ICMA delegates who had become very accustomed to walking) and we made our way to the Matzbach-Berlin for the German Brouhaha – which I believe was the most Googled word of the day! Here we had the entire restaurant to ourselves and we enjoyed a typical German dinner available only in the months of May and June – of white asparagus or “spargel” as it is called in German.

FRIDAY
GM Berlin

Tim Hilpert, General Manager, eBay Kleinanzeigen, Germany kicked off the Friday morning Creative Strategies session. Tim stressed that companies must rethink the way they involve customers and users in the development processes, create a culture of constant innovation and support out-of-the-box thinking in all levels of the organization. Next up for this rousing morning session was Kieron Matthews, Marketing Director, Internet Advertising Bureau, UK who highlighted how to realize the value of the online audience and how they are responding to advertising, stating “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you are already really behind.” And rounding off the morning session was Anne Kennedy, International Search Strategist, Beyond Ink, USA, who gave us an industry insiders peek at the latest trends to help take your site to the next level informing us that the “Number of viewed YouTube videos is higher than the number of Google searches in the US.” Anne also stated the iPad is and ECD –Entertainment Consumption Device.

Dennis Kenis, Founder & Managing Partner FairEtail, Belgium was the first speaker out of the gate for the second session of the day. He spoke on Partnerships, Co-opetition and Affiliates and stated that classified sites should aggregate, integrate, distribute and monetize. Andris Stinka, CEO & Co-Founder, Daype Inc., USA/Latvia was a last minute addition who spoke on Aggregators and Aggregation stating it adds value for the end users when done by following the commonly agreed rules. To complete the morning session we had a stimulating debate: Man or Machine – Automated Self Service vs. Selling with Martha de la Torre, CEO, El Clasificado, USA as the moderator and with Rob Paterson, Group Managing Director, Friday-Ad, UK taking on the Machine and Peter Lamb, President, Lamb Consulting, USA passionately defending the value of the human quantity in the sales process. Luckily there was no need to battle it out with Peter Lamb coming out the clear winner of this round. Will it be the same in 5 years…. Round 2 awaits.

To end the Friday morning session, Josef Kogler, CEO, Inform Media, HU/RO officially took over as the ICMA chairperson, thanking Rob Paterson, Managing Director, Friday Ad, UK for his hard work in reshaping ICMA over the past 3 years, through some very rocky periods. Josef also took a moment to recognize the rest of the ICMA committee informing the membership that the chairperson responsibilities will be spread more evenly throughout the committee.

WORKSHOPS
GM Berlin

The afternoon was taken up with three rotating round-table workshops on Scrum Methodology, Google Adsense and Usability, Development and Design of which delegates could attend two of the three.

Marc Lyne, Co-Founder, BrownBook.net, UK lead the Scrum Methodology workshop whose highly interactive ensured that everyone who attended was able to implement Scrum upon return to the office. This session was jam packed and one of the top rated sessions of the conference. Christoph Adler, Director Media & Marketing, Camao, Germany and Walter Palma, Strategic Partner Manager, Google, Germany spearheaded the Google AdSense workshop where the primary focus was how to make more money from AdSense. The third workshop was led by Ander Tenno, Software Process Consultant, Trinidad Consulting, Estonia and Hegle Sarapuu, Interaction Designer, Trinidad Consulting, Estonia who highlighted a couple of case studies with detailed how-to. As well as an open discussion on the importance of these three very relevant topics.

Friday night was left free for delegates to make their own plans, in which I heard some headed out for Thai food, others Burger King and we had the pleasure of enjoying a German BBQ complete with German bratwurst! As they say Berlin is very multi-cultural and it seems everyone enjoyed.

SATURDAY
GM Berlin

The final day of the ICMA “Classifieds EVOLVE or die” conference kicked off with best attended ICMA Business Meeting in years.

BUSINESS MEETING
GM Berlin

Rob Paterson chaired the Business Meeting which discussed the 2009 audit and financial reports by BVVA which passed unanimously with the members appreciating the realistic approach in going forward. The substantial increase in membership was discussed with the 18 new members that have been added since October with the new fee structure and the plans to continue this growth. Also discussed was the change of name from ICMA General Meetings to ICMA Conferences to help market and grow the association. On deck for this summer is the updating of the ICMA Articles and Bylaws to reflect the current state of the Association. We will also be forming the ICMA Next Generation – which allows companies to bring one younger person they see potential in to help grow and prosper from the knowledge of ICMA members, at cost. Lastly, we will be offering webinars this September and October 2010. 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 Shay.

BLF
GM Berlin

The Business Leaders’ Forum (BLF) was chaired by Felix Erken, Managing Director, Junk Mail, South Africa. He came well prepared decorating the room with world cup fare as incentive for the attendees (for those who haven’t chaired a BLF, a great deal of work goes into it before the day itself.) Felix began by giving the first time attendees a chance to introduce themselves and their businesses to provide for a highly interactive session. First topic of discussion was some of the undeniable facts of our industry, with the group sharing their experiences and Felix sharing Junk Mail case study. Before the break for lunch, one of the many world cup quizzes was given with Chris Kidger of Friday Ad taking the first prize.

The afternoon session kicked off with another world cup quiz before delving into the most relevant industry issues Publishers are currently facing. Excellent discussion was had before Jack Humphreville took the chair seat to share his expertise from Target Media Partners.

Upon return from the last coffee break social media was discussed in depth with Rob Paterson of Friday Ad discussing in detail the new opportunities and threats we face going forward.

Loren Dalton, President of PennySaverUSA.com was proposed by Martha de la Torre as chair for the ICMA Business Leaders’ Forum for the ICMA “Next Generation Classifieds” Vienna Conference, and accepted the nomination.

BOF
GM Berlin

The Business Operations Forum co-chaired by Eero Korhonen of Vaibmu, Peter Lamb of Lamb Consulting and Gerhard Koele, which focused on the three main aspects which affect our businesses: sales, marketing, and technology. Five groups were given a case study in which they were to create a value proposition for your product. The idea behind this exercise was for the attendees to learn how make a theoretical value proposition work in practice, to share practical -small but executable- ideas with colleagues and to reflect on your way of working with the things learned here. The final session entailed each group to present their value proposition which ended in a tie between group two groups leaving the other groups to decide who would win – I believe it was group 4 who came out on top! Congratulations!

GALA PARTY/ICMA INNOVATION AWARDS
GM Berlin

The Gala Party, was held in the best venue yet – Wasserwerks in Berlin. As the delegates entered the door the comments were priceless when taking in the vast water pump station which has been completely redone in a very funky fashion to become a very trendy venue, some thought it was an old Brewery with all the large colourful pipes throughout. It was the perfect setting to present the first ever ICMA Innovation Awards, which we kept the suspense with a few a few heartfelt words from Felix recognizing Rob for his contributions as ICMA Chairperson these past 3 years and ensured everyone had enjoyed the delicious dinner before Martha de la Torre of El Clasificado presented the two runners up categories. We are proud to announce PennySaverUSA.com took home the “Show Me the Money” award and IPC Media was awarded the “Quick Implementation” award. The anticipation grew through the dessert when Rob announced Farm Country Trader as the overall winner of the “Classified Media Innovation Award.” Rob Hage proudly accepted this prestigious award and in a follow up stated ” I think I now know what the Jamaican bobsled team would have felt like, had they won an Olympic Gold Medal!!! … I was delighted just to have made it to the final 10.”

Congratulations in order to all three companies and we look forward to continuing this award for each ICMA spring conference. It didn’t take long before the conga line started to get people onto the dance floor with the DJ playing all our favorites! A truly successful Gala Party which was confirmed by the difficultly to get people back on the bus at the end of the evening. (Pekka and Koen mentioned adding a mandatory 5 am extension to the ICMA Bylaws.) I believe the party continued with a group heading to the Hotel Concorde Berlin bar and I learned the other group made the rounds to the different bars in the area arriving back around 5 am – I am guessing Pekka and Koen were spearheading this group!

Once again another outstanding GM, as I believe it was Helmut who stated “Just when I think they can’t get any better – they do.” Therefore credit should be given where credit is due…. Thank you to the wonderful speakers, facilitators and chairs! As well – a huge thank you to the exhibitors and sponsors for their commitment and the ICMA Committee for all of their support, and of course all of you who truly make the ICMA conferences better than the last!

We look forward to seeing you all again at the ICMA “Next Generation Classifieds” conference in Vienna, Austria 3 – 6 November.