The no-content side certainly didn't seem to affect the traffic at the booths, since the aisles seemed packed as usual. Which makes me wonder why more conferences in our industry don't just jettison the content side of the program completely and focus 100% on networking and show floor. Of course the answer is: then the agencies don't show up, which was the biggest complaint I heard on the show floor. Not that that should affect the Ad:tech crowd much, since over the last few conferences in New York, Ad:tech now rivals the Affiliate Show for concentration of PPC- and PPL-type affiliate network companies exhibiting.
Other than the always-great Datran Media after-party, there really wasn't anything to report about email. Fortunately I ran into Jupiter's David Daniels, who filled me in on his latest research into the future of email in Europe. According to the latest Jupiter report, there may be trouble ahead for Europe's growing email business due to the over-reliance on home-grown email applications (or HEAs, as Jupiter likes to call them).
This sets up a kind of Catch-22 situation. The HEAs are not sophisticated enough in their technology to handle the types of segmentation and knowledge-sharing that an ESP would provide. Without that type of sophistication, email results will decline (as will an interest in investing in email as a marketing vehicle, one assumes). The lack of investment in more sophisticated systems that could increase email's value means that ESPs will be less inclined to invest the time and money to expand into the European marketspace. Meaning a heavier reliance on HEAs. Meaning less ESPs and less sophisticated tools, and so on in an ever-decreasing spiral of lowered ROI for the European email market.
I'm not sure I buy the whole premise, though (although if I were a U.S.-based ESP, I might think twice before entering the European market outside of the UK). We do know, according to previous reports from Jupiter, that a sophisticated approach to email marketing and the incorporation of behavioral targeting will yield higher returns, but the old batch-and-blast method might be just good enough where the majority of segmentation is based on geography. And it seems to indicate that it is a good time for the ESPs already based in Europe to expand, since they will have less to fear when it comes to competition for U.S.-based companies.
One thing is clear, though: Email is growing in Europe, and it is going to be a very interesting market to watch over the next year or so.