ERA Attendees See Two Types of Convergence

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MIAMI - The Electronic Retailing Association wrapped up its spring conference here Tuesday with a Latin-flavored gala that epitomized the four-day event's tone of integration with new media and new countries.

The conference sought to bridge the gap between language and new consumer delivery systems. It was just the second time that Internet technology companies were invited to be a part of the spring conference and the first time that they were made the main focus.

The keynote address by ERA president/CEO Elissa Myers emphasized the many new faces at the show, including Latino Internet companies, Spanish-language DRTV products and television convergence companies. Also announced at the show was the appointment of new ERA board chairman Jeffrey W. Giordano, president of Media Solutions Services. Giordano takes over for Earl Greenburg, who served as chairman for three terms.

Amid the conference's product pitches and behind-the-scene deals, it seemed as though everyone needed two translators: one to understand what the dot-coms were pitching and one to translate it into either English or Spanish. At least one company, Natural Premier Supplements, Miami, actually had a translator on hand to explain its line of nutritional supplements it hoped to sell via DRTV.

Gilbert Hevia, director of business development for Latin American affairs at Hydrogen Media, St. Petersburg, FL, said the integration was successful.

"We talked to a lot of companies and made a number of solid contacts," said Hevia, who was pitching his company's Web development and e-commerce solutions. "We realize that DRTV companies need us now, not in the future. The conference is stressing the Internet and the Latin market because we are here in Miami. These are fundamental to success in this business as the presence of both Latin people and the Internet grows tremendously in the United States."

Ken Parks, president and chief operations officer at enhanced CD company BroadBridge Media, New York, found the mix of old and new media quite educational.

"This conference is a great way for us to connect with DRTV companies who want to learn from us and us from them," he said. n

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