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Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in Conference Recaps

Spark Digital Marketing Conference Recap

Spark is an annual digital marketing conference hosted by TrackMaven, a marketing software company. This year, the conference was held at the iconic Newseum in Washington, D.C. on May 18. Spark brought together a group of digital and content marketing leaders from various industries to discuss the future of social, marketing, analytics and digital creativity. Mary and Katie, two of our MDS associates, had the pleasure of attending and are sharing their top takeaways from the speakers.

Mary Cline & Katie Lopus(Image Source: Mary Cline and Katie Lopus)

Mary’s Picks: 

Storytelling IRL: Creating Big, Beautiful Experiences that Drive Brand Results 

Vanessa Fontanez, executive director of brand marketing for VOX Media, shared how her brands create multisensory experiences to drive results. VOX Media’s most successful activations are realized when brands combine multi-sensory experiences with passion points shared by the audience. To promote Infiniti’s newest car designpar and Eater, the dining website, VOX Media created a virtual-reality lab in partnership with the Museum of Food and Drink. A virtual-reality screen was placed inside the windshield of the new car to give guests a tour of culinary centers around the world. Fontanez conveyed that experiences like this should be paired with an editorial hook, branded content and social media for a multilayered approach and to measure ROI. Marriott has hosted countless experiential brand activations like this in the past. For example, this year’s luxury “glamping” tents at Coachella music festival, designed by brands like Aloft, Moxy and AC Hotels, were a hit. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

Next-Generation Retail Strategies 

In this session, Laura O’Shaughnessy of SocialCode discussed innovative retail strategies that are reshaping how consumers shop. In comparing the shopping experience at a big-box retail store, such as Target, versus a digital-first store, like Rent the Runway, it is apparent why many traditional retail stores are closing and online-only retailers are opening brick-and-mortar locations. The main difference is that the brands that start online allow consumers to drive the design of the brick-and-mortar stores. Some examples include Warby Parker, Bonobos and none other than Amazon. Customization is key in this model as well. Because eCommerce is the hotel industry’s bread and butter, creating the most customized and intuitive shopping experience possible is a continuous work in progress for hospitality digital and eCommerce professionals.

Washington DC Capitol Building(Image Source: Mary Cline and Katie Lopus)

Katie’s Picks: 

The Importance of Video in Your Digital Strategy 

Beverly Jackson, vice president of social media and content strategy for MGM Resorts International shared some valuable insight from her professional experience. Across social platforms, people who see your content organically are users who love your brand. The key to owning algorithms is to tell good stories by leveraging video trends. Some of the current trends include cinemagraphs, live video and episodic content, all different themes that can be used while being authentic and staying true to your brand. Marriott International hotels around the globe can utilize this strategy by implementing videos across social channels. Hotels can use video to show off iconic features, such as infinity pools or rooftop bars with a view. Also, hotels can live stream events, for example, interviews with chefs and bartenders for a behind-the-scenes look.

Social Strategy at Scale, Conde Nast’s Road Map to Accelerated Growth

Spark Digital Marketing Conference(Image Source: Mary Cline and Katie Lopus)

Rochelle Stewart, a growth expert and director of Social Strategy & Innovation from Conde Nast, shared how the company focuses on growth within the right market for each specific brand, while staying true to the umbrella brand of Conde Nast. When focusing on expanding followers, consistency is key. Focus on the people by delivering in a consistent manner and providing what the audience expects. Having the largest audience isn’t what’s most important; having the right people engaged is. Determine which social platforms have the best opportunity, establish benchmarks, set goals, share knowledge and celebrate wins. Additionally, use the data for what themes are successful on each platform, and consistently implement those successful content buckets. For Marriott, our hotels can establish which posts resonate the most with users by categorizing the content in buckets, and creating benchmarks to track data. Hotels can use content buckets for posts, such as local areas, hotel pictures, special events and employee features. With this knowledge, these themes should be shared in various forms, whether via photo album, quick video or gif.

Facebook Principles_Spark Digital Marketing Conference(Image Source: Mary Cline and Katie Lopus)

Instagram Growth Strategy_Spark Digital Marketing Conference(Image Source: Mary Cline and Katie Lopus)

A day well spent learning about all things digital from iconic digital leaders. To read more about the event, the speakers and the schedule, visit the official website at

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