On Wednesday at 12 Noon, the largest ad:tech ever, with over 8,300 attendees, closed. There were over 200 exhibitors and more parties than any one individual could ever hope to attend. The mood at the show, as it has been for the past couple years was upbeat and optimistic. As an independent voice, I can say dmg world media, the event producer, has done a great job promoting and organizing the show.
While yesterday, Tuesday, at 5PM exhibitors quickly dismantled their booths, Wednesday morning was still teeming with activity at the many sessions held between nine and the show's wrap time, noon.
The next major U.S ad:tech conference is in San Francisco, April 26-28 at the Moscone Center, newly chosen over area hotels as the show has grown so large. In March and April of 2006, ad:tech will launch its "impact" series, a collection a one day shows in ten cities across the U.S. We hope to see you, next, in San Francisco or at one of the "impact" series shows in a city near you. Until then, rock on and have fun.
Tuesday night's social activities at ad:tech New york began with a trip to the Hilton Hotel Lobby Bar in search of What'sNextOnline's B.L. Ochman but, instead, we ran into Gawker Media's Nick Denton and Christopher Batty with whom we discussed the over-hyping of blogs and agreed they're pretty much just a system that allows people to publish a website really easily. OK, there's some other good communal consumer stuff about them too. We never found B.L. but we did check out the Bridges Bar which was packed as the exhibit hall had just closed and there weren't many early parties except for the Industry Brainpower Awards and Soire, which we missed, and the WhenU Official ad:tech Wrap Up Party over at WhenU's Penn Plaza offices.
WhenU put out a great spread with the best snacks of any party this week including delicious, gigantic shrimp. We ran into Tacoda CEO Dave Morgan for a brief chat and both marveled that Mr. "I'm a Web Copywriter" was there handing out business cards as he had to every booth on the exhibit hall over the course of two days.
The panel entitled "Measuring Your Brand Buzz in Consumer Generated Media" moderated by Organic CEO Mark Kingdon along with panelists Jonathon Carson, president and CEO of Buzzmetrics, Pete Blackshaw, CMO of Intelliseek, Dave Balter, President of BuzzAgent and Andrew Bernstein, CEO of Cymfony, focused on how consumer generated media has become an important source of brand information for marketers and how it can me measured to benefit marketing direction.
A key recommendation from all panelists was to relinquish control. Consumer generated media can not be controlled. However, it can be listened to and joined in a way that provides marketers rich detail about brand perception and a channel through which to directly communicate with consumers. Blackshaw referred to some the the negative consumer commentary as "nastygrams" and Kingdon noted that this sort of consumer backlash has been around forever but, today, it's all happening much faster and has become harder to manage in advance.
Aside from the company whose slogan is, Wanna Be On Top," the "booth attractions" at this year's New York ad:tech show were few and far between. At CPA Empire's booth, a lovely lady dressed in a red ballerina dress with wings was handing out pins with numbers on them which attendees could match with other pins with the same number to win plasma TV's. Not a bad promotion and well worth the excuse to visit the booth to observe and participate.
There were no less than seven parties, that we knew of, Monday night, the first night following the first day of ad:tech New York 2005 and we made it to six so we'll do our best to sum up the evening's activities for you if, for some unknown reason, you weren't there to experience it all for yourself.
As is tradition, Tribal Fusion hosted its Grand Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall following a very busy, very crowded day on the exhibit hall floor. There was Tribal Fusion-branded beer, various wines and finger food to enjoy along with the company of the eMarketer crew, Waisum Tam and David Murrow. While we're sure the AC was doing its best to fight the body heat of 8,300 attendees, it wasn't quite cutting it and we opted to head out of the Exhibit Hall and down to the Hilton Hotel's Bridges bar for the Partner Weekly cocktail party.
This year, Partner Weekly made the event invite only and sealed off the usually very open Bridges bar and dressed up the entrance with red velvet curtains and a red carpet to, we assume, make us all feel important. The inside was transformed into a casual nightclub atmosphere with low lighting and candles. Since the food at this party was emanating from th same kitchen as Tribal Fusion's we were less than thrilled at placing yet another ball of fried something into our mouth so we just ditched the food and headed to the bar. At this point the extended eMarketer crew was with us (pictured) along with Tia Fix from PrimaryAds and a discussion ensued about how busy this year's show is and whether the industry is still trying to legitimize itself or if that has been achieved.
In an effort to connect and re-connect those working within the industry and to add a bit of fun to the business like environment of ad:tech, an event called Connect LIVE, held in the East Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel, aimed to get people to open up and let others truly get to know one another.
In the center of the Ballroom was the main event - The Hotseat. Twenty-five people sat in a circle surrounding one individual who, in the Hotseat was asked, by the moderator, ad:tech Chair Susan Bratton, questions designed to cut though the preponderance of industry fluff, exaggerated research findings and over-used industry platitudes. All attendees had to wear costumes or at least a hat which, based on the low turnout, appeared to be a bit off-putting to conference goers. For those who did attend, though, it was a very enjoyable experience in that people as people were highlighted rather than people highlighting their companies which, in this day of meaningless puffery, was a welcome sight. We learned that Intelliseek's Pete Blackshaw hates his hybrid car and blogs about it. We learned that Target Marketing's Jim Sterne doesn't stare at cleavage. We learned that ad:tech Marketing Director Meredith Medland loves to dance in public.
Corny as it all may sound, it did set aside the usual formality of most conference sessions and brought together a bunch of industry people in a way that, well, just isn't normally done at most business conferences.
For added coverage of ad:tech New York's activities, session, keynotes, news and other show-related activity, ad:tech has launched ad:tech daily, an eight page printed piece which will be distributed at the show Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The daily can be found in and around the event area.
Opening the 2005 New York ad:tech show, ad:tech Chair Susan Bratton appeared on stage wearing a pair of wings in a nod to an event later in the day called ad:tech Connect Live, where attendees can engage in some serious interaction. Bratton told the audience this year's ad:tech is the largest yet with 8,300 people expected to attend and over 230 exhibitors vying for attendees attention.
Bratton introduced the first keynote speaker, Lexus Marketing VP Deborah Wahl-Meyer who explained Lexus' approach to marketing embraces the notion that customers are like quests in one's own home and should be treated with dignity. Wahl-Meyer acknowledge the consumer is in the driver's seat today and calls many of the shots when it comes to marketing communication. With technology like TiVo and weblogs, consumers have far more control and voice then they ever had before.
Following the theme of today's New York City Marathon, ad:tech hosted a party for its exhibitors at the New York Hilton giving them a selection of food and beverage alongside a racetrack adhered to the floor of on of the Hilton's function rooms. Hot dogs, pizza, ice cream and drinks were served.
Interestingly, to get to this off the beaten path function room, a trip through the exhibit hall and up an escalator was required revealing yet another exhibit hall space with about 30 more exhibitors. That, in addition to the number of exhibitors on the main floor brings this to an all time high for the show. We're told upwards of 7,500 people will attend the show this week.
It's 12:30pm Sunday at the New York Hilton and you'd never know ad:tech New York 2005 was starting tomorrow morning. The exhibit hall looks like a large warehouse with boxes, crates and dollies all over the place being swiftly moved by crews racing the clock to be ready for the 6,000 who will descend upon the Hilton as the show opens.
While checking out the layout of things, we stumbled upon a crew of 20 or so preparing the attendee bags which will be handed out to all who show up. As is usually the case when people do the same thing 6,000 times in a row, things can get silly. Be sure to check out the video in the photo album of the crew singing "Dina Won't Ya Blow" or whatever that song is called.
The two people mugging for the camera at the end of the album are ad:tech Director of Marketing Meredith Medland and ad:tech Content Director Warren Picket taking a break from preparing speaker and press passes.
Below are two "film loops" from Film Loop you can join. They'll be updated with images over the three day period of the show.