CTAM Europe, the Zurich, Switzerland-based international cable TV association for marketing, is organizing its traditional EuroSummit Sept. 24-25, this year at the Sheraton Hotel in Lisbon, Portugal.

VideoAge got a hold of the London-based Chad Raube, the chairman of CTAM Europe for an overview and insights into the conference.

VideoAge International: How did CTAM Europe first come about and why?

Chad Raube: In 2004, a small group of seven cable executives met up informally to exchange learning’s from their respective markets, and to form professional friendships that they could rely upon to help them address challenges they faced in their respective home countries. While Cable Europe was in existence, there was no specific industry organization in Europe focused on the marketing, product and customer experience challenges that cable executives faced. The executives in question (some of these had been members of CTAM in the U.S.) decided to launch the European chapter of CTAM, seeing a beneficial opening to create a unique forum which would enable marketing and product leaders to connect and network with each other. What started as an idea to address a need has grown into a vibrant community of professionals that is adding value to the industry.

VAI: What is CTAM Europe’s remit and how is it affiliated with CTAM in the U.S.?

CR: We work closely with CTAM U.S. (based in Virginia) and our European members also receive complementary access to their network and knowledge databases. Our remit is to provide the cable industry with a European forum dedicated to marketing, sales, product and customer issues. As such, the organization provides a community in which we can exchange experiences, so members do not have to tackle issues on their own, but can benefit from the support of others who have been through something similar in other markets. This also provides valuable benchmarking as well as a channel to gather and deploy strategies and solutions that members might not normally have access to. Moreover, CTAM Europe provides a networking platform for senior executives so that they can build meaningful relationships with their peers across Europe. The flagship event for both knowledge sharing and networking is the annual EuroSummit, but throughout the year we also offer key events, such as webinars, as well as membership in industry groups such as the Customer Experience Consortium, and research seminars.

VAI :How has the organization evolved over the last few years and how does it foresee the future?

CR: The organization has matured since its founding in several ways. Membership has grown to be more geographically representative of Europe, with notable expansion into Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Spain, and Germany. In parallel, the CTAM Europe Board has grown in size and now includes senior executives representing the major cable companies in all geographies. Additionally, CTAM has added smaller cable operators as members, partly due to its emphasis on creating knowledge sharing opportunities relevant for industry, not just its major players. It has also expanded its event-schedule from what was originally just an annual EuroSummit.

VAI : CTAM Europe will be launching its 6th annual EuroSummit this year in Lisbon, tell me more and what delegates can expect?

CR: The EuroSummit will be hosted this year in Lisbon, a beautiful backdrop for what is always an excellent event for networking with peers and connecting with partners from across the industry. Notably, unlike many conferences, the EuroSummit is attended by a large number of senior executives which provides a unique forum to share insights. Additionally, we have assembled a great line-up of high-profile speakers, who will focus on the theme of how cable companies can “Thrive, not just Survive” in the current recessionary environment. As such, the sessions focus both on practical solutions that can provide immediate benefits as well as more forward looking concepts that companies need to address in order to maintain their leadership positions.

VAI: What are the highlights of this year’s Summit and why?

CR: Where do I begin? This EuroSummit promises to be our best ever, starting with our two keynote speakers: Jeffrey Rayport and Duco Sickinghe. Rayport, a Harvard Business School Professor and MD of Marketspace consulting, is a leading light within cable who regularly consults the CEO’s of U.S. cable companies and who was the keynote speaker at the CTAM annual summit in the U.S. Sickinghe, one of the smartest and most highly regarded CEO’s in European cable will speak on the keys to delivering a successful bundle that expands beyond pure price promotions. Another major feature of the Summit is the Creative Award Program, which recognizes the best marketing campaigns across Europe in our industry and has a record number of nominations. And last, but not least, the EuroSummit’s first visit to Lisbon will provide a superb backdrop for networking with likeminded industry colleagues.

VAI: How has the EuroSummit changed over the years (if so) to address market needs?

CR: CTAM always tries to add value by addressing topics at the EuroSummit that provide both practical, quick wins for attendees to take back to their companies, as well as subjects focused on future innovation, both in terms of product and processes, to ensure cable is not left behind. On the former point, since its inception, the EuroSummit has added significant content in the areas of customer care and experience management, which has become core to success for all operators, to complement its existing marketing, product and sales emphasis. Additionally, it has tried to provide its marketing sessions with a balance of thought leadership but also real ideas that can be quickly implemented by members. CTAM also now regularly invites innovative start-ups that are having major impacts on our industry to ensure cable is not left behind its competitors, as well as addressing cutting edge topics such as corporate social responsibility. Finally, we have looked to develop programs that address the needs of not only the largest cable operators, but other members of the industry ecosystem, such as smaller cable networks and our partners in the content, systems and applications areas which help cable to remain ahead of the competition.