Today I attended the first ever Econ: Women conference here in New York. It was very informative, as the panel discussions focused on women in online media, advertising and community. Co-CEO Wenda Harris Millard of Martha Stewart Omnimedia kicked off the conference by saying “Flat is the new up”. It was her response to the current economic conditions. Wenda announced MSLO’s investment in Pingg.com, an online invite application for events. After Wenda spoke, I caught up with her offstage and asked if MarthaStewart.com would be integrating social networking features a la Facebook. She said that the site already has a community section. [It is more old school than Web 2.0 with a message board, but there are also active blogs from the editors including Martha herself.] Wenda said frankly that social networks like Facebook are not MSLO’s audience and besides, “social networks don’t make money”. I thought her comment was especially interesting given the recent study from Jupiter Research which asserted that blogs are more influential that social networks.
One of the highlights of the conference was the exchange between Tina Brown and interviewee Cathie Black, Hearst President. Although Tina Brown is now the founder of new online start-up, The Daily Beast, she seemed to be still quite the cheerleader for Conde Nast titles, and repeatedly called the now-defunct Hearst publication Cosmo Girl, “Teen Cosmo”.
Another highlight was when Andrew Shue introduced himself as the founder of Cafe Mom and before that “an account executive at D & D advertising”. It was a funny reference to his former role on Melrose Place.
Dooce AKA Heather Armstrong was on the community panel along with Joni Evans of Wowowow, Brandon Holley of Yahoo Shine and others. Heather manages her commenters by setting guidelines and making sure that her readers respect Dooce and as if they were in her “living room”.
It was great to see Lisa Stone, co-founder and president of BlogHer. She spoke on a panel about advertising and ad networks. There were men at the conference as well, Gary from Gary’s Guide was there and Glam Media Scott Schiller made a quick mention of Glam’s new men-focused portal, Brash. I also met people from The Frisky, She Knows, Wedding Wire, Be Jane and Video Egg. I look forward to next year’s event.