The big question on everyone's mind was, of course, the economy. How would it affect the industry? Would some businesses benefit from the crunch while others crumpled under the pressure?
The mood on the floor seemed cautiously optimistic. As usual, plenty of product launches and new partnerships were announced, and over-the-top booths (including DMNews's own, with comfy couches and a flatscreen TV) lent a festive atmosphere to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Attendance was good -- not noticeably down from the year before (although attendance at an early breakfast I attended on Tuesday was quite sparse, thanks, I think, to all of the parties being thrown on Monday night).
However, underneath all the Vegas glitz, you could almost see attendees' brains whirring as they tried to figure out how to deal with the market in 2009. When asked directly, most of the people I met with admitted that they weren't sure what the coming months would bring. They, of course, hoped that industries across the board would recognize DM as a way to be more efficient with their marketing spend. But they also acknowledged that any marketing program, efficient or not, would cost more than some companies might be willing to spend right now.
A few of my interviewees noted that those CMOs who were willing to invest in new programs now could win over a chunk of consumers neglected by the other marketers that were pulling back.
In all, DM came across largely as a strong link trapped in a sort of marketing circle of life. Yes, the products and services are good, efficient, measurable, but their fates rest with the rest of the circle - the CMOs and the consumers they're trying to sell to. Smart marketers will, I think, recognize the power of DM, even in these tight times.