Smaller Venue Works So Far for @D:Tech

NEW YORK — Floor traffic in the small exhibit hall of the @D:Tech New York online advertising conference was brisk yesterday, leading some attendees to comment that they liked the venue change from last year's event in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to the Hilton Hotel.

“Better than last year,” said one attendee who wished to remain anonymous. “The ceilings [at the Javits Center] were too high, and it was just too big for this conference.”

Indeed, the @d:tech exhibit hall last year consisted of 70 companies tucked in a small corner of the basement of the Javits Center, a sprawling complex on New York's west side that attracts some of the largest trade shows in the world.

However, last year's show was also held in December 2001, not too long after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, so people's expectations were also low.

@d:tech is the second Internet-marketing related trade show to move from a larger venue into the smaller Hilton New York.

In May, the AIM/DMA Conference and Exhibition was also held there. That show was originally scheduled for Las Vegas, but show organizers changed the location to New York when it was clear attendance levels at a Vegas show would be low.

In other @d:tech conference news, one of the newest exhibitors is actually one of the older names in online advertising: Accipiter Solutions Inc.

On the heels of re-acquiring its assets from Engage Inc., Accipiter, Raleigh, NC, has re-entered the online ad management software market. Accipiter was founded in 1996.

Once high-flying Internet incubator CMGI acquired Accipiter in 1998 for stock valued at the time at $35 million. Within weeks, the stock was valued at $57 million, said Accipiter CEO Brian Handly. He would not say how much Accipiter's executives paid to get the company back. “But I can tell you it wasn't even close to that [$57 million],” he said.

Accipiter is currently shipping version six of its AdManager software, which Engage announced in June but which wasn't made available to customers until now, according to executives.

Handly added that Accipiter plans to focus on “continually developing the product.”

CMGI bought Accipiter when many thought online advertising was the proverbial golden goose.

CMGI merged Accipiter with Engage, aiming to create an online advertising network fueled by a database of anonymous profiles.

Engage monitored Web surfers' clicking behavior across a network of sites and claimed to score their interests in marketing categories such as autos, consumer electronics or sports.

Theoretically, Engage's advertiser customers would be able to serve ads just as prospects' interest in their product or service peaked. Realistically, however, the scheme was not successful. Engage exited the online advertising market in Sept. 2001.

A year later, CMGI divested itself of the 76 percent stake it had in Engage.

As a result, Engage is now in the digital-asset-management and workflow-automation-software business.

Meanwhile, Accipiter claims to be profitable.

“One of the things Engage got caught up in was quick expansion, and that's what got them into trouble,” said Handly. “We're going to be just a little more cautious.”

Accipiter is No. 3 in the ad serving market behind DoubleClick and 24/7 Real Media.

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