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Mixing With Marketers --Sherburne

June 2009
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I RECENTLY had the opportunity to attend ad:tech at Moscone West in San Francisco. This conference and trade show takes place annually in nine different venues around the globe ( It is an interactive advertising and technology conference and exhibition that blends keynote speakers, topic-driven panels and workshops to provide attendees with the tools and techniques they need to compete in a changing world. 

Although I don't have actual attendance figures, it was a busy show. The second-day keynote had more than 1,000 people present, compared to some 400 attending keynotes at the recent On Demand conference in Philadelphia. Also, unlike most of the printing shows I have been to lately, the conference sessions were packed.

Atypical Printing Show
The show featured 235 exhibitors, most of whom I am sure you have never heard. Many had tabletop exhibits, but there were some larger booths, too. Exhibits took up hall space on two different floors. Some recognizable names included Google, FOX Networks, Acxiom (database marketing), Publishers Clearinghouse and SuperPages (the online part of the business).

If you ever attended the Seybold conference in the good old days, ad:tech would bring back memories of that time. It was a time when the printing industry was in a period of dramatic transition. Desktop publishing and electronic prepress were just starting to take hold, changing the way we did things in very big ways. Seybold was a place where the old guard and the new guard could meet halfway and work together to manage through this transition.

Sadly, there really is no trade show on our side of the digital wall that meets those needs today. That's why I attended ad:tech. I wanted to see what was really going on out there, and how it might relate to the transition our industry is going through today.

Of the 235 exhibitors, there was only one exhibitor that you might see at a printing industry trade show, and that was Printable. It should be commended for making the investment to attend. I spoke to a Printable representative while I was at the show and learned that it experienced very good traffic based on a personalized direct mail campaign it sent to ad:tech attendees.

One of the drivers for Printable attending this show is the increasing amount of interest it has seen from the enterprise side. More companies want to take control of the integrated campaign process and are looking at solutions like Printable to help them do so. This may be because print service providers are not moving quickly enough, or because marketers are not aware of all of the various services that printers offer today. Either way, it is evidence of an end run on the part of enterprises that could push our sagging industry into even more of a commodity mode unless we move quickly to add the services marketers are looking for, and to sell ourselves more effectively to marketers and print buyers.



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