Connecting Two Worlds

As a former software programmer, I feel a bit disloyal praising the Digital World Expo. The three-day interactive conference, which begins Sept. 27 at the Palms, offers instruction for those working in new-media marketing. And since many programmers consider marketers a necessary evil, I was surprised how much I enjoyed last year’s inaugural event.

The man responsible for the conference is Shawn Rorick, a Las Vegas-based new-media marketing pro who understands better than anyone I’ve ever met the disconnect between technical and marketing people. “That’s what we’re trying to break down,” he says.

Last year’s conference taught marketers how to use cutting-edge technologies. This year’s event promises to be bigger, with more speakers and more than 50 classes and workshops, but with the same focus on practical uses for current technologies and marketing opportunities. There will be six “tracks” focusing on Internet advertising, mobile marketing, managing relationships on social networks, computer programming, analytics and next-generation technologies. Rorick says he hopes both marketers and programmers will jump tracks for at least a few workshops to learn about the other side.

To encourage cross-pollination between marketers and programmers, some of the most interesting workshops are designed for both parties. One on Black Hat Search Engine Optimization will demonstrate nefarious techniques for optimizing websites—techniques that both marketers and programmers should be careful to avoid because they often cause more harm than good.

In another workshop, one likely to appeal to our downtown tech community, Assurance Advertising’s Shahab Zargari will collaborate with Las Vegas startup Rumgr (a free app that brings the garage-sale experience to your iPhone) and its founder Dylan Bathurst to host a pair of interactive sessions in which participants will help produce a promotional video and marketing campaign for Rumgr.

It’s unlikely whether this collaboration will enable marketers and programmers to understand one another, but it will at least get them talking. Says Rorick about the Digital World Expo: “I want to like you as a person and get along with you, because we have the same common interest and passion for tech. … That’s what we’re trying to create, that atmosphere.”