@d:tech LA Opens With New Focus, Feel

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LOS ANGELES -- This year's @d:tech conference is different in many ways, thanks to the state of the dot-com industry and feedback from previous participants.

"We're doing fewer breakout sessions and more general sessions based on the feedback we got from our attendee surveys and input from the advisory board," said Fairfield, CT-based Joel Davis, president/CEO of JDEvents, manager of @d:tech. "We felt that a lot of our audience enjoys the general sessions format, so we wanted to be able to offer a better mix. In general, the content is geared toward issues facing the traditional marketer."

The conference, which started yesterday, also is benefiting by expertise from Susan S. Bratton, this year's conference chairwoman. Bratton previously headed sales and marketing for Excite@Home's media business and now is CEO of Cendara Inc.

Topics under discussion at the conference span the spectrum: Tim Sanders, chief solutions officer of Yahoo, delivered the keynote on the next big thing out there. He said it was simplicity. The state of the online advertising industry, the future of interactive advertising, plus search engine optimization tactics, case studies on mobile marketing and brand response marketing were some of the subjects discussed yesterday.

Today's sessions will touch on understanding and measuring the consumer experience online, mixing online and traditional marketing, online marketing imperatives for outsmarting competition and case studies on Seagram and PGATour.com.

"I think our conference program reflects what the industry wants to hear," Davis said.

This year's @d:tech is a mixed bag from a numbers' perspective for show owner Imark Communications: Fully-paid delegate attendance is up, but the number of exhibitors is half. As of yesterday, 250 fully paid delegates preregistered for the June 19-21 show versus 172 last year. The number of exhibitors, however, dropped to 50 this year from 102 in 2001.

"The economy is still challenging, and exhibiting companies are still facing very, very tight budgets," Davis said.

The show, which has been in Los Angeles for the past two years, will be held in San Francisco next year. That may be a show of confidence for a city that arguably bore the worst brunt of the new-economy backlash.

"We're actually going back to where @d:tech had really prospered in its initial years," Davis said.


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