sean finnegan demoEven though he was brought on-stage to talk about trends in online advertising, Sean Finnegan said ads actually aren’t the main priority at Starcom MediaVest, the global agency where he’s chief digital officer.

Specifically, he said that when MediaVest works with its clients, it looks at a wide range of ways to promote brands and products.

“‘Your Ad Here’ is the last thing that we talk about in our campaigns,” said Finnegan, who was interviewed on-stage today at DEMO Fall 2010, the conference co-produced by VentureBeat.

His description of how MediaVest handles Facebook advertising campaigns seemed like a good illustration of this idea. The agency begins its efforts by building a Facebook Page for the client. It also incorporates “listening” technology to help companies track what consumers are saying about them on social networks. Then it draws attention to those efforts by buying banner advertising space on Facebook.

“It’s a gigantic growth engine, it’s a reach provider, it’s somewhere that we have to be, somewhere that we want to be,” he said.

Finnegan added that he’s hoping for more collaboration between Silicon Valley and the advertising industry on Madison Avenue. Many of MediaVest’s clients are becoming more interested in the startup world, he said: “They want to know what’s next and what some of the tools are and ways they can better reach their consumers.”

VentureBeat executive editor Owen Thomas, who was interviewing Finnegan, noted that some startups feel that Madison Avenue is too slow and traditional. That’s beginning to change, Finnegan responded, and if startups do their homework, then they might get a more positive response from big advertisers. In some cases, however, startups just aren’t reaching a large enough audience yet to attract Madison Avenue’s interest.