Day 2 Drop-Off at Indicates Many Locals Attended

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NEW YORK -- A drastic drop-off in exhibit hall traffic here yesterday was a sure sign that moving the AIM/DMA Conference and Exhibition to New York may have saved this event.

"Yesterday [Tuesday] was by far the better day," said exhibitor John Papalia, president of Danbury, CT, list firm Statlistics. "I'm a quality man, not a quantity man, and I got a lot of good quality leads here."

The Association for Interactive Marketing and the Direct Marketing Association originally planned to stage this event in Las Vegas but said in December it would be held in New York, making it easier for a large percentage of the industry to attend.

By day two, though, exhibit-hall prospecting had clearly dried up.

"I think a lot of people who work in the city popped over (Tuesday)," Papalia said. "(Moving the show to New York) was the right avenue for them to take. If anyone traveled here for the whole three days [there were pre-show workshops Monday], they wouldn't be back."

Also, with only 44 companies exhibiting, attendees didn't need two days to find and visit the booths that interested them.

As a result, many exhibitors who reported solid leads on day one displayed abject boredom yesterday.

"Yesterday [Tuesday] was good. Today sucks," one exhibitor said off the record.

Others were withholding judgment until they could follow up on leads.

"It all depends on what comes out of this," said Kathy Elter, vice president, Walter Karl Interactive, Pearl River, NY. "I've seen better. I've seen worse," she said, comparing this show to other DMA events.

Walter Karl was exhibiting at this show because parent company infoUSA bought DoubleClick's e-mail list services division in March. Previous to this show, Walter Karl had exhibited in one other conference: the infamous October 2000 Boston fall show, which by all accounts was a bust and wasn't staged again.

"This show was definitely better than Boston," Elter said.

As usual when trade shows slow down, vendors were pitching other vendors.

"I've had more people come up here to sell me something than leads [yesterday] by a ratio of 3 to 1," said John Hartman, vice president, client services, Involve Inc., a New York Web development and marketing services firm.

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