Summer NCDM Is Buzzing But Lacks Innovation

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CHICAGO -- Though most attendees at this week's Summer 2005 National Center for Database Marketing Conference seem pleased with the programming and the show in general, at least one said the information being presented only scratches the surface of new database marketing trends and technologies.

"I was at the other show, and the kinds of things being talked about here are nowhere close to the depth of what is being talked about there," said Ron Jacobs, president of Jacobs & Clevenger, Chicago, an ad agency specializing in direct, digital and database marketing communication.

Jacobs was referring to the Ad:tech Chicago conference, which focuses on interactive advertising, marketing and e-commerce. That show ended yesterday. Jacobs said he looked at the NCDM program and thought, "'I've seen this before, or I've seen that before.' But go over there and you are hearing things you haven't heard before."

While direct marketers have become behaviorists, Jacobs said, the Ad:tech people are "becoming the real analysts. They are looking at individual customers in a way that we only dreamed about doing a few years ago. The online folks ... are looking at a depth of interaction that pales anything we've ever thought about with direct mail, telemarketing or traditional direct marketing."

Not to say that there's anything wrong with attendance at NCDM. There are 26 exhibitors, versus 27 at last year's show in San Francisco. Sessions have been crowded, and there was a general buzz during the cocktail reception and lunch break on the exhibit floor yesterday.

"The show traffic has been really good," said David E. Taylor Jr., executive vice president at DataLab USA, Germantown, MD. "We've received about a dozen good leads."

One reason may be Chicago's central location. Chicago may even become the permanent location for Summer NCDM, said Ed Berkowitz, director of sales at Primedia Business Exhibitions.

Another reason may be that conference organizers instituted a new Certificate of Completion program. To get a certificate, participants must, among other things, go to at least one pre-conference intensive session, attend seven concurrent sessions, meet with three vendors on the exhibit floor and have each speaker and exhibitor sign a database marketing certificate tracking form.

Vendors said many participants have visited their booths as a result, and delegates are staying until the end of each session so speakers can sign their forms.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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