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ad:tech SF 2014: What We Learned

Published: March 28, 2014

Author: Hillary Read

If you were at ad:tech SF this week and wandered into the Expo Hall, you probably saw our booth: it was one of the big three right inside the entrance, to the right of Marin Software. If you didn’t see it, the booth looked like this:
ad:tech sf
We’re spoken at a bunch of similar shows at the past; we’re all over panels at SMX, SES, MPSIS, HeroConf, LeadsCon, etc. But we’d never invested in a booth. Now that the smoke has cleared a bit and the marketing budget has taken a hit, we’ll have to ask ourselves a couple of questions: a) was it worth it; and b) what did we learn?
The first question is going to be hard to answer for a while from an ROI standpoint; we’ve got a few good leads, and if one or two of them come through, the show will essentially pay for itself. If they don’t, the brand-awareness play was significant; we had a ton of people stopping by to get to know us better. Add in factors like camaraderie from folks coming in from different offices and remote locales (SF, San Mateo, Chicago, Vermont, Ottawa), and a bunch of materials that we can use for future shows, and my guess is that it was money well spent.
So what did we learn? Well, specific to ad:tech, we learned that there are more vendors for mobile apps, mobile ad types, display impressions, and any combination of the three than you’d have thought possible. We learned that at least half of the foot traffic in the booth was trying to sell us something rather than genuinely asking about our services. We learned that you have to account for everything  in the budget – booth footprint, materials, storage, set-up, internet, power outlets, even the occasional roll of tape…and more items I’m sure I missed. We learned that your lead collection plan (method of capturing, what info you capture, and a detailed follow-up process) is one of the most important elements of the show. And we learned that a fake-wood floor with pleasantly surprising padding underneath is a pretty good draw for passers-by at the end of a day on hard concrete.
Will we do it again? Tough to say, though I hope so. And if we do, I hope some of you stop by and say hello.
Any thoughts exhibiting on ad:tech (or other shows)? Would love to hear them in the comments.

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