The notion is that instead of bombarding consumers with generic messages whose success rate are hard to measure, companies can use the Internet to deliver targeted messages that consumers will want to hear, can learn from customers through interactive features and can entertain them with funny videos. Federated Media connects the many blogs--including BoingBoing, Digg and Techdirt--in its network to advertisers who are seeking that audience.

"Conversational Marketing is an exciting new practice that engages rather than dictates, invites rather than demands, and listens as much as talks," the Federated Media Guide to the conference states. "Advertising is becoming a three-way conversation, as marketers join readers and authors online. All three parties seek appropriate principles by which to hold these commercial conversations."

The emergence of user-generated content has given average citizens a forum for recommending and denouncing products in a way they never had before. "I call it the 'relationship economy.' You value and feel empowered to control your time," Schultz said. "Do you really want to have a conversation and relationship with every product you buy? No."

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