For the last two days, I attended the AdTech New York conference. This was the first year that it was held in the massive cavern that was the Javits Center, and not in the Sheraton MidTown. The keynotes and the panels had some good content, but what left the biggest impression on me was the expo hall, where the participating companies showed their goods.
Sheer Quantity – there were over 200 vendors participating in the space. With that many companies it became very difficult to tell one company from the next. There was little differentiation between the messages, the services, and the presentation styles of the participating vendors. Compounding the companies individual identity crisis, there was just three different types of companies there, affiliate networks, ad networks, and services that were designed to lift performance. If you walked long enough you could even start to rhyme names of companies together, sort of like a bizarre tale of internet advertising products as told by Dr. Seuss.
The Claims – The improvement of “insert your goal” was the theme of many of these vendors. Vendors could Increase performance by 100%, by 200%, by 500% and so on and so on. In speaking with many of the vendors, for the most part they claimed improvement by multiples on what the company was focused on saying. It reminded me of the The 300%-500% Lift Meme written by Jerry Neumann over at the Reaction Wheel Blog. At times, the claims became so redundant (and flippant) that you could just cut to chase and ask the representatives of the company how much improvement, and they would give you a % lift, without even explaining what the product did.
The Capital Investment – There where huge booths, manned by big staffs, with flashy designs and yes, the really demeaning and derogatory booth babes were in full effect. Between what event organizers charge for the floor space, the cost of the booth, the cost of “in conference marketing,” and the cost of staffing the booth each vendor spent anywhere between $25,000 to $35,000 and up. Multiply that by the number of vendors and at minimum more than $5,000,000 were spent by participating companies on the Ad:Tech floor over the two days.
Little Innovation – There was very little actual innovation there. A handful of innovative companies like IZEA, which is focused on the blogosphere & twitter, and iLoop which focused on SMS and Mobile participated. Unfortunately, the reality is that the physical cost of show participation and the context of the show (traffic, click, and offer arbitrage) sidelined the most innovative companies. To be fair, there was a greater number of smart entrepreneurs from the NY tech scene walking the floor, like Gary Galant of Sawhorse Media (Creators of the Shorty Awards.) and Jon Mendez, author of Optimize & Prophesizefounder of RAMP Digital.
To be fair, AdTech has become a TRADE SHOW, just like CES or the Super Show (For Apparel). For those participants who were expecting a transactional based conference, they were not disappointed. Everywhere I looked, I saw small cluster of people in business suits, talking enthusiastically about deals that could be struck, volumes that could be committed to, and how much money it was going to cost. There was lots of commerce done. That has become core purpose of the show, and I understand that.
For another vantage point on the show please read Morgan Brown’s The difference between BlogWorld and AdTech.
Please share your thoughts on the show, and if you found companies that you felt were innovate on the floor at Ad:Tech, please send them to me so I can follow up on them.