NOVEMBER 13-15, 2016 - NYC

The SoDA Academy is a two-day, invitation-only learning conference built on the dual roles of senior staff within the agency community: Making and Managing.

SoDA collaborates with leaders at top digital agencies, entrepreneurs, education experts and client-side marketers to design and develop an experience that is truly unique – not the usual conference, nor a one-size-fits-some executive training session.

The Academy’s mission is to transform professional education for digital marketing leaders through radical collaboration and hands-on, peer-to-peer learning in a way that allows delegates to emerge more capable, more successful and more connected with their peers from around the globe.

Opening Reception

Drinks and conversation among delegates and faculty in Manhattan. We’re finalizing the location from an array of very cool venue options, so stay tuned for more details as the event approaches!

Day One is designed to introduce attendees to new ways of interacting in a learning environment - within their subject matter tracks, attendees will engage in open and frank discussions of pressing challenges, unmet needs, and emerging opportunities. We’ll look at both trends affecting the disciplines and the roles of each discipline in agency management, growth, and thought leadership.

  • NEW IN 2016 SoDA has a broad range of member companies, not only in terms of geographic location and areas of digital expertise, but also in terms of size. However, in this track, we’ll focus on the unique needs, challenges and opportunities faced by leaders of shops in the <50 FTE range. Session topics will include:

    • Leadership: How should a CEO of a small shop spend his or her day/week/month?
    • Evolving your agency strategy as you grow
    • Org Structures for smaller agencies – are you optimally organized?
    • Transitioning from project shop to AOR engagements
    • Successful approaches to partnerships


  • In this track, senior business development talent will leverage the insight and expertise of the SoDA community in developing the business of digital agencies. Session topics will include:

    • Strategies for evaluating client opportunities
    • Pricing strategies and alternative compensation approaches
    • Evolving from project-based new business to AOR engagements
    • Lead generation
    • Cultivating long-term, repeat and referral-based business
    • RFPs and how clients search for and evaluate agency partners


  • In this track, delegates will address the overlap of digital design and user experience, and the growing influence of design thinking on agency practice. Session topics will include:

    • Best practices in design thinking
    • Applying experience design tenets to different types of emerging digital experiences
    • Approaches to collaborative design
    • The growing role of generative design
    • Developing a culture of innovative problem solving within your design team
    • Exploring the intersection of design, data science and business understanding


  • In this track, delegates will focus on the role of finance in guiding growth and innovation for digital agencies. Session topics will include:

    • Models and drivers of revenue and growth
    • Methods for setting profit targets and protecting margins
    • Financial management challenges and opportunities - for agencies and projects
    • KPIs that drive sound financial decision making
    • How systems and tools impact methods and outcomes
    • Establishing (and monitoring) early warning indicators and managing risk


  • In this track, delegates will focus on improving the way agencies, production companies and others in our industry operate, structure teams, and orchestrate workflows to create innovative, collaborative and effective businesses. Session topics will include:

    • Exploring different management models, including team-based structures
    • Running a tight ship while enabling creativity and collaboration
    • Improving internal communications
    • Growing teams for scale
    • To outsource or not to outsource
    • Best practices for estimating and alternative compensation models


  • In this track, participants will explore the models, practice and value of project management and production in digital agencies. Session topics will include:

    • Where, when and why things go wrong
    • Best practices for early stage price and time estimates
    • Our biggest mistakes and what we learned from them
    • Scoping in agile or non-fixed cost environments
    • Collaborating with account management to shepherd client relationships
    • Collaborating with creative to enhance quality, workflow, delivery & margin


  • In this track, participants will be challenged to rethink and 'level up' their skills and practice when it comes to strategy within a digital agency setting. Session topics will include:

    • Effective strategy workflows and deliverables
    • What are the best tools, models and methods that should be in a strategist’s toolkit
    • Integrating strategy throughout the project lifecycle
    • The consultants are moving in – how do we compete?
    • How to propose, plan and scope strategy
    • How to hire and train strategists
    • New forms of qualitative and quantitative research for strategy engagements

    Note: On Day 3, we will offer a separate Master Class on Business Strategy for Digital Agencies, including a focus on how to evolve your company strategy based on a variety of factors (including agency growth, changes in the marketplace, and other variables). Such business strategy topics will not be covered in the Day 2 track described above.


  • NEW IN 2016 In this track, delegates will explore the models and ‘best known’ practices top digital agencies are using to recruit, cultivate and retain talent. Session topics will include:

    • Developing strategies and staffing plans to scale intelligently
    • Effective methods for recruitment, onboarding and ongoing training
    • Innovative (and less painful) approaches to employee and leadership evaluations
    • Building and maintaining culture as you grow
    • Keeping employees and management engaged and loyal
    • Compensation best practices


  • In this track, delegates will share best practices on fundamental issues and challenges agency tech teams face - both today and in the foreseeable future. Session topics will include:

    • Best practices for managing technology teams
    • Workflow challenges and methods
    • Recruiting and the culture of engineering
    • The role of technology throughout the project lifecycle
    • Developing for emerging technologies (wearables, IoT, VR, AR)
    • Workshops with hands-on exploration of emerging technologies


New in 2016, delegates will be able to choose their own adventure on Day 2 from a broad mix of interdisciplinary as well as discipline-specific sessions.

Delegates who wish to remain in a discipline-specific environment (with other Design & Design Thinking leads, for example) will be able to select from an array of Master Classes that will be even more intimate than the Day 1 tracks, allowing participants to dive deeper and to explore additional topics within a rigorous collaborative learning environment.

Meanwhile, cognizant of the fact that work within modern digital agencies is not brought to fruition within a silo at the individual discipline level, delegates will also be able to choose from interdisciplinary sessions focused on the multiple, cross-cutting ways practice areas within agencies intersect and overlap. We’ll offer sessions around agency leadership and innovation, as well as focused workshops on how disciplines such as strategy, analytics and design thinking (for example) should collaborate to produce the most impactful digital experiences possible.


NOW AVAILABLE – Full schedule of content for this year’s event!

by Chris Dauer, Academy Director

SoDA is excited to announce the full schedule of content for this year’s event! After our inaugural event last October,... View Article


Strategists Unite: Discussing the Joys and Challenges of Running a Strategy Discipline

by Tina Glengary Cordes

Why is strategy hard to explain? Everyone’s creative and everyone’s strategic.  While true, there are moments when you’re one or the... View Article


Peer-to-Peer Collaboration Defines SoDA Academy

by Chris Dauer

One of the guiding precepts of The SoDA Academy is that its curriculum will be structured and presented in such... View Article

Museum of the Moving Image

We are thrilled to announce that New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image will serve as our headquarters for the 2016 edition of The SoDA Academy. The museum’s inspiring architecture, light-filled gallery spaces, digital learning suites and expansive courtyard will serve as the perfect backdrop for this year’s event.

The recently transformed museum features a stunning, modern and versatile building by architect Thomas Leeser with spaces that will enable even greater levels of collaboration and delegate interaction this year.

The Academy’s Opening Reception will take place on Sunday evening in Manhattan (November 13, 6-9PM). The location is being finalized from an array of fantastic venue options, so stay tuned for more details as the event approaches!

And in true SoDA style, the conversations initiated during the daytime sessions will continue in a more social setting on the evenings of November 14-15. Details on evening activities will be released in the coming months.


Located less than 10 minutes away from midtown Manhattan by subway or car, the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) is situated on the campus of the historic Kaufman Astoria Studios in Long Island City (LIC).

LIC has quickly emerged as one of NYC’s most vibrant neighborhoods and exciting cultural centers. With celebrated artist studios and galleries, popular eateries, historic beer gardens and cultural institutions (including MoMA PS1, The Noguchi Museum, SculptureCenter, and Socrates Sculpture Park, among others), we’re thrilled to bring our international audience of digital visionaries to this thriving area of NYC.

Hotel Accomodations

Academy delegates will be able to choose from a variety of hotels in midtown Manhattan and Long Island City, including the trendy Paper Factory Hotel which is two short blocks from the Museum where the daytime events will be held. Details on discounted hotel pricing will be provided after delegates complete the pre-qualification and registration process.


SoDA serves as a network and voice for entrepreneurs and innovators around the globe who are creating the future of marketing and digital experiences.

Adobe is the Official Founding Sponsor of SoDA.

If you have questions about The SoDA Academy or SoDA as an organization please contact

SoDA will be working with a small number of partners on The SoDA Academy on an invite-only basis. If you are interested in discussing partnership opportunities, please contact Pamela Strother at and 202-486-5990.