April 13, 2010

OMMA or MIXX? Take the Pepsi Challenge!


By Sara Holoubek

It's Advertising week, kids, and you know what that means! Time to display your loyalty on your sleeve by attending, speaking, sponsoring or exhibiting at one of the two simultaneous shows.

For some, the decision is based on a professional or personal experience that resulted in some pretty deep rooted feelings. For others, it is simply a marketing decision based on who will be where and when.

I think most will agree that it is just silly to have two shows, marketed to the same people, vying for the same dollars, to be held on the same day. But before we move on to opinions, let's review the past.

A Little History

It was just two years ago that the IAB and Mediapost joined forces to launch the Interactive Advertising World (IAW) Conference and Expo during the inaugural Advertising Week. The event was designed to bring together MediaPost's annual "Forecast" event (then in its fourth year), and the IAB's "Advertiser Forum," in its second year. Like any honeymoon, both partners sang the praises:

Ken Fadner, publisher of MediaPost, went on the record to say:

"Combining these two cornerstone events during Advertising Week in New York City offers an unrivaled perspective for our industry's executives who attended both MediaPost's Forecast and the IAB Advertiser Forum each September. Now attendees will have one bigger, better, and smarter event to look forward to--one that will help them gain a better understanding of the forces at work in our industry. We anticipate that Interactive Advertising World will be the most important and influential gathering of the year."

Greg Stuart, President and CEO of the IAB added:

"Like last year's IAB Advertiser Forum, this event will be unique because it attracts players from all sides of the decision-making table. We strongly believe audience composition is the critical factor to a conference's success in either effecting real and immediate change or at least in influencing an ongoing dialogue. Programming, networking events--even the trade show--are meaningless unless the right people are present."

A key component of IAW was the OMMA awards show, hosted on the second night of the IAW. Once again, Stuart and Fadner rallied behind the effort. Yet sometime after the first and last IAW show, there was a tussle over who owned the OMMA name. Mediapost had applied to register the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a Print publication, newsletter and awards program.

This is when the IAB served papers to Mediapost, there was a good deal of name calling, and documents surfaced on the Web.

And the IAW was no more. The very next year, the IAB entered into an agreement with Adweek Magazine to co-produce the MIXX conference, Expo and Awards Show. Mediapost, having won the battle, continues to use the name as a publication and conference title, but not as an awards program.

Back to the Future


So where are we today? Stuck with a decision between two shows.

I did make it to both shows, albeit briefly and here some qualitative results of the Advertising Week Pepsi Challenge:

"OMMA," said one industry figurehead. "The content maps better to the audience."

This answer begs the question of who exactly made up the audience. I will admit that the OMMA crowd seemed a bit larger. The trade floor cocktail hour served as an ideal place to connect with industry friends, and was definitely abuzz.

The IAB seemed a bit more reserved. I hesitate to say "more grown up," but there, I just did. Lots of suits and less air kissing.

On the topic of content, not everyone agreed with our industry figurehead. "The IAB keynote was awful. Absolutely awful," said one individual. Back at OMMA, a panelist confessed he had never been more bored in his life and another described it as "quite dull." I almost laughed when I noticed a known writer was spending the majority of one OMMA session on a gaming site.

I think it is safe to say that when two shows are held on the same day, during the jam-packed Advertising Week, the pickings do get slimmer. One analyst asked "Is the world better off with two shows? Are we of a size where we can sustain it?"

This is particularly hard for the poor exhibitors. One sales rep told me he spent most of Monday and Tuesday running back and forth between 48th and 45th streets to meet with prospective clients, analysts and the press.

Sum Game


While I did enjoy the opportunity to see familiar faces, I give credit to one Sales VP who responded to the challenge with a resounding "neither." Now that the show is over, I invite you to tell me: OMMA or MIXX?


Sara Holoubek is a free agent consultant serving the interactive sector and its investors. She can be reached at saraholoubek@gmail.com.

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