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Notes on the Vibe from Ad-Tech San Francisco

Despite the temptation to do some live blogging from the event yesterday, and the fact that I came away with notes on several sessions from the event – this is not another recap post.  I love those posts and there have been several good ones, including one of our panel as well.  The most interesting thing to note, however are the themes running through this event and what it might say about our industry.  Ad-Tech is one of the biggest shows in the interactive world and the San Francisco event is probably their flagship location).  Coming to Ad-Tech as a speaker, you can feel the "officialness" of the event as you’re delivered a beautiful leather address book from Leeds and certificate thanking you for participating in your welcome pack.  Sure it’s a little like elementary school (getting an award for participating rather than actually winning anything), but you feel like you’re part of a community coming straight into the event.  I’d have to agree with Steve’s view that the event had a weak start with the choice of an extremely boring format and session as the first day’s keynote presentation.  I also didn’t quite get the logic of not opening the exhibit hall late on the first day as most shows do and waiting until today to open … but those small gripes aside, the event is a great gathering and there are some themes that are certainly running through the event that I have seen so far.  Here are a few:

  1. Everyone is hiring – Multiple people mentioned the challenge of finding good people with a specific set of skills and experience, and just about every startup idea needs developers, designers and every other category of individual.  I don’t live in San Francisco, but I imagine it’s a great time to be looking for a job here (and probably in many other markets as well).
  2. Being global is a reality – More than any other show I went to recently, Ad-tech has a global feel to it in the people that are attending from other countries, as well as the focus of several of the sessions.  A colleague from OgilvyOne in China will be participating in a panel on Asia-Pacific later today which I am looking forward to attending.  In conversations, people are also thinking more broadly about how tools are evolving in different countries and how social networks are growing beyond national confines.
  3. Measurement is evolving – This is probably a nice way of saying that no one seems to have cracked the code on measurement and how to provide a comprehensive view of it.  Everyone is offering a slightly different piece of the pie, but much of the discussion was about how this area is still evolving.  For more on this, check out my post as part of the discussion on measurement  we have kicked off on the 360 Digital Influence blog.
  4. Interactive specialities are splintering – From several events I have been to, and also looking at the speakers and topics at Ad-Tech, it’s clear that there are branches evolving in the interactive field.  There are web design and development teams, search marketing, email marketing, social media – and the challenge is getting people who consider themselves experts in these niche categories to work together.  Interactive used to be one world, but it’s clear that it is branching and shows like Ad-Tech are one way to bring these categories together.
  5. People are optimistic – For a city that has had it’s severe ups and downs when it comes to morale in the interactive industry, it is clear from Ad-Tech that people believe this is a great time to be in the industry.  Everyone is excited about the trade show today, and about seeing all the new services and technologies being launched in the market.  Despite the reserved kickoff to the event yesterday, this excitement will certainly lead to even more interesting technologies and discussion online coming out of the event.

2 thoughts on “Notes on the Vibe from Ad-Tech San Francisco”

  1. Hey Rohit,

    Just wanted to it was great to hang with you for a bit at the Osha Thai with Karl Long during AdTech. Let me know the next time you’re in the Bay Area.

    I think your 4th point is definitely the most interesting and challenging. Everyone is talking about how marketing/pr is both increasingly getting specialized but also overlapping, but how do you get PR, Social Media Marketer/Word-of-Mouth, Analytics, Search Marketers etc…working together in one room?


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A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

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