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Attended WPP’s Moscow version of the Stream un-conference yesterd. Stream Moscow 2011 is a smaller, localized follow up of the traditional event hosted by WPP’s CEO Sir Martin Sorrell and Yossi Vardi in Club Med near Athens, Greece.  About 100-150 people attended, the Digital Elite of russia’s internet scene. My dear friend Esther Dyson (EDventures, serving on both the boards of WPP and Yandex) and Mark Read (CEO of WPP Digital) hosted the Moscow event, in the posh Ritz Carlton.  Outside snow was falling which made stark contrast with Stream Moscow’s older brother, the big Stream --- three days of casual mingling and mindsharing with the hand-picked top 300 peers of the global digital scene.  I was there the last two years in October,  with pleasant temperatures near 30 degrees.

It was good to finally meet Yuri Milner, albeit it very brief, the founder of Digital Sky Technologies (DST), shareholder in Groupon, Facebook and Zynga and large stakeholder in Mail.ru whose IPO he realized end of last year.  Yuri is very upbeat about e-commerce and believes there is a lot of space for niche players, like shoe sellers… <

As I’m now responsible as CMO for driving sales for the Samwer Brothers’ new Russian e-commerce project Lamoda.ru (www.lamoda.ru) that was good to hear. It re-confirmed what Sir Martin said half a year ago in Greece. The best sectors to be in are Digital, Data Analytics, and BRIC. I’m in all three -- that’ a hattrick! Mark Read added that Russian will soon be the largest online market in Europe, the reason for WPP to explore more ways to improve the digital share in media budgets.

Milner: “…all you have to do is simply hang in there for the coming 10 years and follow the flow, er… Stream!”.

I loved the group discussion we had in little rooms about e-commerce however there was not anything new said and I couldn’t stop noticing I was talking the most --- a lot of companies that are still thinking what their next step will be in the direction of e-commerce. Met some nice research people and saw charismatic commercial director Alexey Tretyakov of Yandex again after my last contact when I worked as CMO/dep. CEO at Ozon.ru  in 2008/2009(at the time Russia’s largest e-commerce company).  Esther startled the attendants, including IKEA’s e-commerce manager with the need-to-know statistic that 7 out of 10 Europeans have been made in an IKEA bed…

The head of economic affairs of the US Embassy initiated a discussion about privacy concerns where about half of the attendant stated that in Russia it’s safer to give Google your personal details thsn the Russian government…

Alexey hosted the session about the Future of Display Advertising after Esther’s e-commerce break out session. I stated that I don’t like display as it’s insane that performance based marketing still needs to get hundreds of thousands of banners to get 1 sale; that’s too much noise, too much digital waste. Where are the CTRs of 15% with amazing conversions?!  A lively debate that, due to time concerns as Yuri Milner had to leave for a another appointment  has to be continued over a good glass. Still, the Russian crowd was much more silent than the colourful bunch of Western internet passionados that crowded the scene at Stream 2010 in Greece. But that will change no doubt in the coming years.

A nice girl Caroline from SoundCloud (“it’s the Flickr for sound”) had some interesting ideas about crowdsourcing for musical artist and shared the sound of bats making love on her iPhone to get attention from the crowd.

A few Dutch people in the mostly Russian crowd: Annelies (CEO @ SUP/Livejournal) and MediaEdge’s Head of Search EMEA. Annelies, ArakadiyVolozh (CEO of Yandex) and myself were the only attendants of Stream 2010 in Greece, (0.8% of all people, according to the booklet).

News 360’s Chief Business Development Officer, a startup similar to SkyGrid, had some ideas about how to better convert e-commerce customers via news updates, as they generate emotion. Unfortunately they focus on the US only, at present.

A Swedish competitor of Efficient Frontier, context advertising bid management, was mentioning several times that they’re not looking for clients; at 2AM I already received their company presentation. Soft persuasion, or digital tenacity? 

And then the night fell. All in all, a really nice initiative. Thanks to Mark, Esther and of course dear Victoria Pattinson for organizing!

Tag:wpp stream