British DM Says Goodbye to Wembley
In Spirited Show

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LONDON - Addition of a new high tech show to the annual International Direct Marketing Fair (IDMF) heightened the US profile at the event as leading US Internet companies manned stands at the New Media Marketing exhibit.

The Internet exhibit was added to the 22-year old British show last year and was held here for the first time this year. It drew 8,568 visitors including 1,875 who came to Wembley expressly to visit the Internet show. The others crossed over from IDMF.

American exhibitors at the New Media show included 24/7 Media Europe, AdValue, Doubleclick, Engage Technologies, the Alternate Media Group and, all companies who came here for the first time. In all, 53 companies had stands at the new exhibit.

New Media also boosted overall attendance at IDMF by adding 2,000 more visitors to the show than had ever attended before. Depending on how attendance is measured, it drew almost 15,000 including "re-entries," people who came back additional days. IDMF drew 316 exhibitors.

Business was good. Fair officials said "several companies reported seven-figure deals." And 77 percent of those who attended have purchasing power. Officials also said that 90 percent of attendees planned to return next year when the show moves to the London dock area.

Exhibitors at both shows agreed that traffic had been brisk, lead generation productive and the quality of visitors higher than it has been in years past, meaning higher level people stopped by at the stands.

Dun & Bradstreet marketing manager Marc Seerey said he had "a very busy show," while Claritas' group account director Lindsey Sandom-Brown said "traffic has been busier than in other years. The show just feels a lot bigger."

"We had good quality leads and more of them than those who just stopped by to fill their carrier bag," Mardev marketing executive Laura Appleyard said.

"It was better for everyone this year," Equifax managing director Peter Edgar said. "Maybe this industry in the UK has reached its 21st birthday. We've become a mature business."

Few new foreign stands seem to have been added to this year's show, but there were enough companies from Europe and the US to confirm the event's position as the most international of the European DM conferences and exhibits.

"A lot of Americans and Europeans stopped by," Mardev's Appleyard said, while Equifax's Edgar added that he had seen "a lot more Americans and Europeans" - German, Dutch and French - and that on the show's last morning he had talked to a Lebanese direct marketer.

Bell & Howell, Dun & Bradstreet and Pitney & Bowes had their accustomed stands as British subsidiaries of US multi-nationals. Other Americans included Miller Freeman Direct, Solar Communications, Kroll International and Hoke Communications.

Germany and France were well represented with Schober, Meiller Druck and Koop at their accustomed stands. Bottin, OBIMD and ETO-Basalt made up part of the French contingent. Wegener represented the Netherlands.

Americans who did not exhibit but walked the aisles agreed that business had been good. Jerry Messer, CEO of Data Services Inc., a Maryland-based global DM shop, said, "I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.

"The show was well attended. I didn't miss one meeting and I did good business. This show has its own flavor and difference and I enjoy that difference. I'm looking forward to the new venue." The ExCel conference center is across the Thames from the Millennium Dome.

Messer found much interest in international direct marketing at the fair, a goodly amount from UK companies interested in selling their wares in the US.

He agreed with a growing consensus here that direct marketing in the UK has become a mature industry and while it may not be as sophisticated as the one in the US it is "moving in the right direction."

As elsewhere in the DM world the UK has seen a growing number of consolidations and acquisitions. Thus France's Groupe D bought Worldwide Media and had representatives at the British list company's stand.

An Irish group bought Printronics, a well established computer services bureau. Managing director Peter Kempsey said it was becoming hard to stay independent on the British market because of the money needed to put new ideas into practice.

As for Wembley itself, few British direct marketers shed any tears about leaving the conference center under the shadow of the famed Wembley soccer stadium, which is being torn down and rebuilt. The show had been here for a decade.

At the farewell to Wembley cocktail party thrown by the British DMA, Colin Lloyd, the association's CEO, and Chair Judith Donovan were scathing, caustic and sarcastic in the best Evelyn Waugh tradition as they took leave of the somewhat seedy and run-down venue.

Donovan told the DMA's guests that she was reminded of the American astronaut who was asked what went through his head as he blasted off: "The contract went to the lowest bidder."

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