Content Marketing World Rolls the Dice in Ohio

This is the first of 3 posts covering Content Marketing World 2012, which is being held in Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 4-6.

When pilgrimaging to South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, you know that you’ve reached the ad tech festival blocks before you hit the convention center. The guerilla marketers flock to you, and by the time you reach the door, you’re holding a taco, wearing a new pair of sunglasses, and have three to five stickers taped to you.

If you’re lucky, you’ve also taken a big shot of tequila, courtesy of a tech startup whose name you can’t remember.

At Content Marketing World, which runs through Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, the initial scene is more subdued. In fact, upon arriving on the evening of the opening reception, it’s possible to walk alone for 10 minutes through the convention center before you reach registration.

But soon, you enter the main ballroom and are met by a packed crowd here for Content Marketing World, the next iteration of the content marketing craze that overtook South By Southwest Interactive in March.

The theme of Content Marketing World’s opening reception is “Las Vegas”  ironic, since content marketers are trying to rebrand themselves as anything but a risky bet. Proving content marketing’s effectiveness has become a bit easier lately, thanks to evidence that content marketing is the most effective form of mobile advertising, and more and more thought leaders pointing to content marketing as the best mechanism for generating brand awareness.

The Vegas-themed ballroom holds a mixed crowd of content producers looking for clients, brands looking for content, and agencies looking to catch up on content marketing. As showgirl dancers contort in poses, attendees gulp cocktails  like the SEO Special, optimized for a hangover  play blackjack, and discuss the sessions in the days ahead.

Kicking off the first full day of Content Marketing World today will be Mitch Joel, the author of Six Pixels of Separation, which has been blowing digital marketers minds for the past decade. Following Joel will be the thought leaders from the brands and publications that content marketers admire most: from American Express to Google, from Social Media Explorer to CopyBlogger.

In a dream world, these top content marketing minds will provide answers to the questions that keep content marketers up at night. How do we show ROI that convinces a brand to move their dollars from TV to content marketing? How can content support social? How can content marketing surprise everyone and drive tons of direct sales?

Tomorrow, we find out if content marketing can take the next step. In case it can’t, organizers have planned a Rick Springfield concert to console the crowd. Now that’s content marketing.

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