We’re attending Internet Summit this year as a gold sponsor, and we can’t wait to meet up with everyone. Our booth is located right outside the main stage on the top floor, and of course we’ll have Ntara swag to give away. But the reason we’re most excited about this year’s Internet Summit is because we’re talking about something that is super relevant, timely, and requires immediate action from all digital marketing professionals. Our topic? Web accessibility.

Accessibility-First is the New Mobile-First

The human element of digital and its profound impact is often overlooked. And right now, there’s a huge portion of the population whose digital needs aren’t being met.

It is estimated that 10 million Americans are blind or visually-impaired. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the total number of people living with hearing loss, motor disabilities, or other circumstances that may require a different digital experience than the majority.

The tech industry is leading the charge in making brands more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. There are apps that can identify household objects, or even apps that provide tactile experiences during a solar eclipse. And organizations now have a corporate social responsibility to create and sustain an accessible digital brand experience. But many are lagging behind

As a result, more than 240 lawsuits were filed last year alone against companies alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. People who are differently abled still use the Internet, spend money online, and have expectations for a great user experience. Without considering this population of consumers, brands are at risk for litigation.

Ntara’s VP of Account Services & Strategy is hosting a session that is positioned to help digital marketers understand what makes a website accessible, why that’s important, and how accessibility is becoming so commonplace, it will soon be the norm in website design. Andy Didyk will discuss how to ensure every segment of your audience can easily and effectively connect with your brand, including those who may rely on assistive technology to do so.

His session is on Wednesday, November 15 on Stage 5 from 3:25-3:55. We hope you’ll join us. FUN FACT: last year, there was singing during Andy’s topic. But we can’t be sure in store for this year.

Digital marketing conferences all promote similar benefits and keynote speakers. But our team really likes the Digital Summit Series for a few main reasons.

The location

Ntara is located in Northeast Tennessee, so we’re used to taking planes, trains, and automobiles to most conferences or professional development events. We love that the Internet Summit takes place in our backyard, just across the Appalachian Mountains in Raleigh, NC. The entire Digital Summit Series has locations across the country, conveniently located for digital professionals in any market. Raleigh is a great spot because it is the epicenter of so much digital innovation in the southeast. It’s the perfect locale to get together with peers to discuss all things current in our industry

The cost

Let’s face it—conference tickets and sponsorship costs are typically outrageous. And it can be really hard to define ROI. The Internet Summit attendee passes are very reasonably priced. We’ve also realized tangible business results from previous attendance. We have experienced incredibly valuable networking at this event, and we’ve even had successful matches with clients as a result of those connections. We’ve chosen to participate as Gold sponsors the last three years because we believe in the value this event brings to our organization, and the audience aligns really well with our target client base. Last year, we had the opportunity to speak on a topic of our choice, and Andy packed the house with his session entitled “Avoiding Digital Train Wrecks: The Most Awful Session at #ISUM16.”

The programming

There’s something for every type of digital marketing professional at the Internet Summit—more than 90 sessions with keynote speakers from diverse disciplines, companies, and backgrounds. The content is great because it’s lead by experts in the field, helps attendees stay on the cutting edge of digital, and is packed with practical, actionable information. Our team attended last year alongside executives from companies like IBM and Lenovo. And sponsors are in good company too—Emma, Marketo, Sprout Social, and Oracle all joined us in the main arena.

As an added bonus—the pre-conference content is just as valuable as the keynote speakers. For example, our team learned a lot of valuable information from last year’s pre-conference sessions to augment Ntara’s existing content marketing strategy for 2017. We also got to meet some of our own digital heroes in the flesh: Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin, and Neal Patel. While there’s sure to be some repeats this year, we’re excited to check out keynote speaker Seth Godin, Mary Shea from Forrester, and of course, we can’t wait to cheer on Andy.

The fun

Ntara has no trouble finding fun anywhere we go, but we especially loved these places while visiting Raleigh:

Raleigh Times
This 100-year-old building was the former home to the newspaper called, you guessed it, Raleigh Times. We enjoyed their small appetizers, extensive craft beer list, and live music on our first night in town.

Coglin’s Raleigh
In our opinion, the best kind of bars are the ones that play throwback music—and our team danced the night away to hits from the 80s & 90s at this downtown watering hole. Last year we stumbled upon a “Welcome Back” party for one of their bartenders, complete with a Mexican-food buffet. Fair warning: their Fishbowls are only for the ambitious.

Carolina Hurricanes
The night before the conference, we caught a Canes hockey game at PNC Arena. We got great tickets close to the rink and enjoyed the quintessential sports food fare. Bonus: The Canes won. They’re playing at home on Monday, November 13—so if you’re in town early for the conference, check them out.

Join the conversation

We certainly hope we’ve convinced you to join us in Raleigh on November 15-16 at the Internet Summit. If you can’t attend in real time, we’ll be live tweeting from the event, and posting several updates to our social channels. We’re also planning on filming Andy’s session, which we’ll post to our blog shortly after we return.

Be sure to check out the full agenda for the conference. And if you’re heading to the “City of Oaks,” contact us! We’d love to meet up.
Get in touch.

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