Interactive Crowd to Converge on San Francisco for Ad:tech

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If the exhibitor list at this week's Ad:tech San Francisco conference is any indication, interactive advertising, marketing and media's time has come.


More than 180 online advertising technology firms and agencies are showcasing their latest products and services April 25-27 at the Marriott San Francisco. Tools, analysis, agency services, search and site-enhancing expertise, and tracking software will all be available.


"I think that the advertising industry has recognized that this explosion of digital media provides opportunities to engage consumers that are unavailable in other media," said Jim Banister, an Ad:tech speaker and president/CEO of Spectrum Mediaworks, a Santa Monica, CA, digital media programmer.


Included in the list of suppliers are 24/7 Real Media, Google, Fathom Online, BlowSearch, Skyworks, Skylist E-Mail Solutions, Commission Junction, BlueLithium, eMarketer, I/PRO-MRI and SEMphonic, ViseonMedia, Accipiter Solutions, iProspect, WhitePages.com, Revenue.net, Prospectiv Direct, Who's Calling and Yahoo Search Networks.


The Home Depot's John Costello, aQuantive's Brian McAndrews and Ohio State University's Roger D. Blackwell will offer keynote presentations.


For those who remember the dot-com heyday, two cheerleaders of that era also will present keynotes: Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker and Release 1.0's Esther Dyson.


Marketers and entrepreneurs will share ideas and experiences in sessions on trends, data, consumer insights, blocking and tackling, roadmaps and checklists as well as case studies. The conference is fittingly themed, "The Age of Engagement," with an emphasis on the interaction between brand and consumer.


Some companies intend to launch either themselves or new offerings at the show. Others are sending only delegates before committing to a booth at a future show. And a few are sending speakers who also will prospect for business in their spare time.


This Ad:tech marks the last one handled by JD Events, a Trumbull, CT, company run by CEO Joel Davis. He acquired the conference in 2002 from Imark Communications, and announced its sale in January to British media giant Daily Mail and General Trust PLC's dmg world media.


The previous Ad:tech San Francisco conference in May 2004 attracted nearly 4,000 participants and suppliers.


Ad:tech has been a bellwether of the state of interactive marketing. Its delegate and supplier list has expanded and contracted with the varying levels of confidence marketers have had in online advertising, marketing and media.


But shows like these also run the risk of becoming rather trendy -- too ready to embrace the new at the expense of the old.


"Ad:tech is a great networking event, but in the past [it] has not been beneficial in securing new sales leads," said Loren McDonald, vice president of marketing at EmailLabs, Menlo Park, CA, and an Ad:tech veteran. "The show has become very advertising- and search-focused. As a result, we've opted to attend the show but not to exhibit."


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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