By Sean Fenlon on April 28, 2007
I returned home earlier this week from Ad:tech San Francisco 2007.
It was a great tradeshow with great energy. Some tend to evaluate tradeshows on the personas and speakers appearing at the event. I personally tend to evaluate tradeshows at the exhibitor levels. The exhibition floors of most tradeshows often remind me of Malls – a few mega anchor tenants, connected by countless and varied mini merchants. I tend to evaluate both groups separately as this is where the proverbial foot-traffic-rubber hits the road.
The mega anchor tenants of this show were… actually… no one. That is, “no one” if you’re thinking about the size of Macy’s at your local Mall relative to the Subway next door to it, there was nothing this big (or this small) relatively speaking.
That said, Google was there.
ValueClick was there.
Microsoft was there.
However, none of these companies stood out prominently. Ostensibly, the days of the MEGA-SPONSOR seems to have been put on pause (does anyone else remember being virtually assaulted by Intel mega-booth jockeys at the main entrance of virtually EVERY tech trade event in 1999?).
So what DID stand out?… Well, a number of things…
CPM vs. CPA
What stood out the most for me is that very few net-new companies in the CPA ecosystem exhibited, but (surprisingly) quite a few net-new companies in the CPM ecosystem.
I must have witnessed at least 10 net-new Ad Networks exhibiting at Ad:tech SF. Each new exhibiting tended to have a “spin” on the conventional Ad Network pitch that began last century, but all their economics essentially continues to pull-down to CPM.
One ad network specialized in European and International traffic, another ad network specialize in the health care vertical. Yet another ad network specialized in TOTAL transparency from their supply side of publisher to their demand side of advertisers.
So, why the sudden shift back to concepts such as ads and CPM? My guess would be that we are witnessing a reaction to massive amounts of net-new dollars pouring online, and CPM deals will always be the quickest and easiest deals to cut. As these new dollars mature, we should expect to witness them flowing upstream to higher-value delivery models such as CPC, CPA, CPL, and ultimately per LIVE Hot Transfer.
Exchanges to the Rescue
Exchanges also created quite a buzz. An exchange is like eBay – a market-maker that connects buyers and sellers (internally referred to as supply and demand). I personally witness at least a half dozen Exchanges at Ad:tech SF 2007:
CPM (etc.) Exchanges
- DoubleClick Exchange
- No One Else*
*I found it interesting that Root Markets did not exhibit nor attend.
I have always tended to resist referring to DoublePositive as an Exchange, since what the input is on the supply is not literally the same as what is pushed out to the demand side – there is indeed a valuable transformation process.
In any case, I cannot say enough good things about Ad:tech 2007 and I look forward to seeing everyone again when DoublePositive exhibits at Ad:tech NYC in November.