While it's said attendance was down slightly from past conferences, the New York ad:tech conference was, by all counts, alive and well despite 24/7 news reports reports of doom and gloom. It's true the economy is not doing too well right now nor is it expected to improve over the course of the next year. But, thankfully, the online and interactive market space is one of the few bright spots amongst the graying economic skyline.
In his keynote address Tuesday morning eMarketer Co-Founder and CEO Geoff Ramsey said he expects to see a 14.5 percent growth rate in U.S. online ad spending in 2009, not bad for an economy that's supposed to be tanking. Many other sources have proclaimed such health as well for the space which bodes well for those of us making our living in online marketing.
With help from the disarming Alice Anda (and the kind indulgence of Massive's Cassandra Nuttal), ad:tech's blog crew crashed last night's Battle of the Agency Bands, a Guitar Hero party sponsored by Massive.
Suited up like charming schizophrenics, agency bands played a random Guitar Hero song for a crowd composed of their own cohorts. I wish I could attach the agency name to each of these videos, but we were in and out in two shakes -- too quickly to info-gather. One of them is MediaVest; and creatives from Ogilvy performed, but I didn't catch footage.
Publishing in the Digital Age -- Context is King.
It's odd that an ad:tech panel about publishing need reiterate the importance of context. Even before digital blew our minds or whatever, wasn't that still the case? Great newspapers were forged in the fires of noteworthy current events. Great books exploit widely-felt (but little-articulated) sentiments.
Context has always been king. Tactical marketers have always fed on that: This is my message. How best to package it for Demo X? Where is their mind? Can I speak to a shared passion or crisis?
This sesh gives a fresh coat of paint to a trusty old model, with the crucial addition of being whiplash-worthy. (That is, encourage some hardcore rubbernecking.) Highlights below.
While not as busy as Monday or Tuesday night, Wednesday at ad:tech New York offered up quite a few things for ad:tech attendees to do after the day's panels ended. Wine Library's Gary Vaynerchuk gave a "motivational speech" to several hundred people at The Volstead but it didn't turn out quite as planned. Even with a few hundred people there to hear Gary speak, the club refused to turn down the music in favor of serving the eight people in the club not associate with the Mashable event.
Gary, ever the resourceful one, was not to be deterred so he asked the crowd to follow him out to the sidewalk where, on a milk crate, he gave his talk to those who chose to stay. Gary never lets a road block stand in his path.
Before the Mashable debacle, ChaCha held an event right after the day's panels ended in the Hilton's Bridges bar. Several hundred attended and were treated to free drinks. After a long day at a conference, who can complain about that? Right and no one did.
As if there weren't a Republican in the house, ad:tech keynote speaker Shelly Lazarus gushed with excitement about the uplifting optimism brought on by Obama's presidential win the night before. No doubt, she had planned to speak about Obama's campaign, universally agreed to have been stellar and one of the best ever, but the fact he won couldn't contain the glee clearly resident in the room.
In her keynote, Lazarus commented the Obama campaign dubbing it a masterstroke of CRM and the digital realization of Obama's "yes we can" mantra. While the Obama love in the room was, without doubt, palpable, Lazarus did not spent the entire keynote talking about Obama.
I was fresh into university when California governor Gray Davis was ousted. In what I shortsightedly conceived to be the most politically significant moment I'd be destined to see in my lifetime, Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced him in Sacramento. I felt seized by the fever of the time, and vowed to always remember what it was like to be passionate about the pulse of government.
That was just a handful of years ago. Today my mind is filled with watershed events that vastly eclipse that first taste: a mortgage crisis, the dramatic collapse of hulking financial institutions, and a black Presidential incumbent pitted against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic ticket, then against another woman -- Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin -- for the right to walk with proprietary pride across the vast square footage of the White House.
Last night, a handful of ad:techies learned the results of the November 4 election over a dinner hosted by Susan Bratton, the DishyMix queen bee. I sat between social medialyte Dave Evans and a well-traveled guy called Roy. We ordered duck gizzards and spun casual, but slightly taut, conversation.
In terms of booth schwag at New York's ad:tech, there wasn't much that stood out. There were pens and pens and pens and more pens. There were matchbooks. There were hats, cups and mints. There were stress balls, pins and badges. A few, however, rose above the toss-in-the-nearest-trash-can category. Ifbyphone had yo-yos. Anchor had shot glasses.And Batanga had miniature stereo speakers which could plug into an iPod or other musical device.
The best, though, and the winner of this year's Booth Schwag Award goes to elitecommission for hiring a custom cigar maker who sat at the booth and rolled fatties (well, not that kind) for attendees. Clearly, not your normal booth schwag.
See them all here.
So after dinner at West Branch with several colleagues and industry acquaintances and a visit to the Huffington Post election party, a 40 block walk home ensued. Yes, 40 blocks. Hey, it was a nice night for a walk. On the way home, a large crowd of people had congregated in Union Square as if Obama himself was about to show up. Of course, he didn't but that didn't stop the hundreds (thousands?) from celebrating. No matter one's political leanings, the engagement of so many in this election process and win is impressive.
Photographic goodness here.
While we make every goal to visit every party at ad:tech so we can bring you all the goodness you may have missed because you decided to stay home and, unlike the rest of us, get some actual sleep, it was simply impossible. In all, there were ten known parties related to ad:tech last night. Have were early cocktail-style parties, half were late night throbfests.
We (being Angela from Adrants, Krista and Andy from Photrade, Carla from Blast PR and several others) made it to the Oldtimers party at the Thom Bar, the Epic party at Marquee, The Money Makers party at Pacha and the Copeac'Intermark party at Touch. We finished the evening with really, really big cheeseburgers at Maison.
The one major benefit of a busy party night? Short lines.
Here's the photographic evidence.
...on your desk with everything else for a week. The One Show 2009 is offering a chance for creatives to be the envy of their cubicle farms by test driving the real deal. Register here for your chance to also hear a top creative tell you to go back and do 50 more in a personal phone call. From BooneOakley.