"People are disappointed," says one media executive.
"The number of meetings is down from previous years, but the meetings that we have had are extremely productive," says Howard Levy, executive vice president of advertising sales for Disney-ABC Domestic Television.
Other industry executives expressed a similar sentiment.
Bo Argentino, senior vice president of advertising and media sales for NBC Universal Television Distribution, says fewer executives means longer, more productive meetings--especially when it comes to discussing complex programming and branded-entertainment deals.
Syndication advertising executives noted that media agencies such as MediaVest, Mediaedge:cia, Zenith Media Services, Starcom, Universal McCann, and MindShare were represented at NATPE.
But more troubling was a sharp decrease in clients that came into NATPE booths and hotel suites than in previous years. However, executives from Johnson & Johnson, Ford Motor Co, Masterfoods and Hasbro did show.
Rick Feldman, president/CEO of NATPE, said the possible low turnout for syndication ad sales executives could be due to fewer new first-run syndicated shows and/or less overall new national syndicated inventory available for the coming fall season.
NATPE took great pains to beef up some of the advertising panels at the event. In part, the move was intended to draw in local TV station executives and content providers to the sessions.
An entire day of some eight panels was devoted to advertising; topics included branded entertainment, local TV stations Internet advertising and digital platforms. In addition, there were one-on-one interviews with Shelly Lazarus, chairman/CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide; Renetta McCann, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group, and Tim Armstrong, president of advertising and commerce, North America for Google. NATPE's Feldman doesn't have actual attendance numbers for the entire event, but said there was a good turnout for all the advertising panels.