OTA Sessions 2012 – Takeaways

In addition to an Augie tote bag, a few books and some OTA garb, there were many takeaways from the excellent speakers at this year’s 3rd annual OTA Sessions, which were held Friday, March 23. In a short, rapid-fire format, here are some of the main things we ADwërkers learned from the sessions.


  • The web is being rebuilt around people!
  • Consumers don’t experience “average” service; the curve has big peaks on both ends – very happy, and pissed.
  • Work in low-fidelity first.
  • Curiosity and luck are closely related.
  • When I grow up I want to be able to tell stories like Jay O’Callahan.


  • The most important things to people are their interests, their friends and their friends’ interests. We are not influenced by society; we are influenced by the people we are emotionally closest to. As advertisers, we can’t shout at consumers, we have to develop relationships with them over time with lightweight interactions like their friends did at the beginning of their friendships.
  • There is a lot of similar content in your inner circle of friends, but there is a vast amount of new content all around the circumference of your circle of friends. The circumference is where new content can get exposed and enter into a person’s circle. That’s where our clients can start their lightweight interactions that build into a brand that will eventually matter inside a person’s inner circle of friends.
  • Start with something you know. Then, take it to a new place. Satisfaction comes from being taken to an unfamiliar place.


  • We need to stop attempting to apply the TV and print mediums to the web; the internet is an entirely different medium. It would be like reading a radio script in front of a camera, then broadcasting it on television.
  • If you want to move people, there is perhaps nothing more powerful than the original medium of face-to-face storytelling. That was made evident by the master storyteller Jay O’Callahan, who I think moved every single person in the audience that day with his story titled “Forged in the Stars.”
  • Ideas are like buying stock – the lower the risk, the lower the pay off, the higher the risk, the higher the payoff. Be willing to take risks with your ideas.


  • Today in marketing and advertising, the words “story” or “storytelling” have become so watered down. When Jay O’Callahan told us his story, he wasn’t trying to increase brand awareness, or he wasn’t trying to sell us something, he showed us how powerful authentic storytelling can be.
  • My hunch has always been that big creative ideas rarely come from people who have a narrow focus; they come from those that are open to learning; and it was nice to have that validated by some of the speakers.
  • My favorite form of communication is still the first form of communication – verbal.


  • It was encouraging to see so many attendees came from outside the Sioux Falls area. I saw people from Pierre and Rapid City and while I didn’t recognize anyone from the other OTA’s (ND and MN), I wouldn’t be surprised to know they were represented. The caliber of speakers was impressive and I was really amped when I walked out the door. We’re extremely fortunate to have this event held right here in “fly-over country.”

Thanks to Hugh Weber, Mike Billeter and Andrew Brynjulson for all of your efforts in putting together this event. We can’t wait for next year!

– ADwërks

3 thoughts on “OTA Sessions 2012 – Takeaways

  1. Thank YOU guys for being so committed to what we’re trying to do with OTA year after year. It’s groups like ADwerks that ensure OTA is great every year, not only by purchasing tickets, but more importantly by bringing your own ideas and insight to the table.

    I definitely appreciated reading what you guys got out of OTA12. It’s always a pleasure to see how different speakers/situations/etc. make an impact on attendees.

    Like I said, we appreciate your guys’ commitment to being at OTA and helping to make it such a spectacular event every year. You rock. And trust me, you guys aren’t the only ones who can’t wait for next year.

  2. Jim & team,

    I can’t thank you enough for the continued support of this event. There are a small group of organizations that have been there since the beginning and consistently bring almost their entire team. ADwerks is a key member of this group and we appreciate you more than you know.

    It’s going to sound like flattery, but I can tell you that when we’re building our line-up each year, we continually ask ourselves WWJMT (What Would Jim Mathis Think.) This is a high standard, but one that we will continue to try to meet.

    As for next year, there’s a blockbuster line-up already in development. One word of caution, tickets are going fast! OTA wouldn’t be the same without ADwerks.


    Hugh Weber

  3. As long as you keep booking such amazing speakers (and we know you will) we’ll always be there! Of course, all the cookies, soda and gifts help too.

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