Ad:tech Attendees Ride Strong Wind to Chicago Show

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Advertising, marketing and media professionals gather in Chicago next week for another edition of ad:tech, continuing this year's theme of "Connecting Globally. Markets in Motion."

This year's conference at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers will showcase the latest in interactive marketing technology and practices. Expect discussions about search, podcasting, e-mail, RSS, blogs, campaign management, rich media, vidcasting and integrated marketing -- all tactics shaping interaction today between brand and consumer.

Peter Kassan, president and founder of online printer Wink International, New York, will be attending for the first time. Wink offers a Web site printing service of printed and finished versions of online material.

"We decided to attend because we have a compelling value proposition for the show's attendees," he said. "We recently attended another trade show and found great enthusiasm for our service and weblets and left the show with many leads, some of which we already converted into ongoing clients. We're excited about ad:tech Chicago providing us with a similar receptive and interested audience."

Last year's ad:tech Chicago attracted 3,000 attendees with the theme "Crossroads: Technology and Creativity." This year ad:tech expects 3,500 people to come out and connect globally, said Don Knox, vice president for ad:tech.

Not all faces at ad:tech will be new ones. John Ardis, vice president of corporate strategy at online ad network ValueClick Inc., Los Angeles, is a regular participant and exhibitor at the conference.

"A number of industry analysts agree that it will be another strong year for the online advertising industry," Mr. Ardis said. "We anticipate there will be many new companies exhibiting, but I believe this new crop of Internet start-ups will find it harder to get traction because online marketers are savvier and are asking the tougher questions about capabilities, scalability, transparency and reporting tools for determining conversion attribution."

For the Chicago event, ValueClick is showcasing all its brands, including MediaPlex, PriceRunner and ValueClick Media, in a single booth to provide a one-stop resource.

Speakers at the show include Fay Ferguson, CEO of Burrell Communications; Dana Todd, executive vice president of SiteLab; Simon Smith, creative director of Adobe Systems; Karna Crawford, interactive brand manager for The Coca-Cola Co.; and Shawn Gold, senior vice president of marketing and content for MySpace.com.

Online marketing services will be offered throughout ad:tech Chicago. These include firms specializing in e-mail. Dave Lewis, vice president of alliances and market development for e-mail software provider StrongMail Systems Inc., Redwood Shores, CA, hopes to gain insight into new technologies and trends in online marketing.

"As an exhibitor, StrongMail will advise attendees on e-mail infrastructure and the business potential of digital messaging," Mr. Lewis said. "The mood of the market is definitely upbeat. Despite its challenges, e-mail remains the killer app. And companies are discovering that there are easy, yet powerful, ways to improve both the deliverability and effectiveness of their e-mail programs."

Another e-mail services firm in attendance will be ExactTarget, Indianapolis. Joel Book, director of online marketing strategy for ExactTarget, has attended three ad:techs in years past and was a keynote speaker at the 2006 ad:tech daylong Impact seminar series.

"I hope to better understand how marketers are integrating digital marketing technologies to communicate with customers in a more timely and relevant manner," he said.

Rob Garner, senior strategic planner for interactive marketing agency iCrossing Inc., sees ad:tech attendance as key to the industry.

"The level of attendance at the last five to six shows has been nothing short of phenomenal," Mr. Garner said from his Scottsdale, AZ, office. "The rise in attendance by senior marketing executives is also a strong acknowledgment that dollars will continue to shift from the more traditional forms over to their digital counterparts."

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