ad:tech Tokyo ’09 was a blast!

The recap of the first ad:tech conference held in Tokyo, Japan in Sept 2009. While majority of sessions were (mass) advertising heavy, the exhibit hall was filled with search vendors. Great conference with eager to learn delegates.

The first ad:tech Tokyo was held on September 2 and 3 at the Price Park Tower Tokyo, and it was indeed a blast as it is commented on their website. Despite the current downward financial situation in Japan and Asia, the place was packed with people eager to hear and learn from some of the leading figures in the industry. I haven’t seen the conferences filled with positive energy like this one in recent years in Japan, and was great to be a part of it.

One of the biggest differences between the ad:tech conferences in Tokyo and other locations was that this one was more focused on the advertising with heavy mass media messaging rather than the digital marketing and the search marketing. You could see strong Dentsu influences to many sessions, which probably shows the current advertising market in Japan.

ad:tech Tokyo was provided in bilingual, English and Japanese, speakers and delegates from Japan, China, Singapore, Australia, UK, US, etc. Many delegates seemed to welcome foreign speakers, which give them a rare opportunity to hear the stories about the overseas market live. All 4 keynote speakers were foreigners, and the room was completely packed with people trying not to miss any words and taking notes.

Contrary to the session program, the exhibit hall was screaming how the search marketing industry was thriving in Japan with many search vendors. Agencies, tool and software companies, etc., they were all busily engaging with delegates.

Google University, Microsoft Advertising and Dentsu each had a separate room where people could learn about their services in detail.

One of the messages I heard through out the conference was “Branding is important”. Some even said, “Don’t worry about the numbers. Go big with branding. Creating the right “image” attached to your brand and products is most important.” This is something you don’t hear at the digital marketing conferences in US.

Not many sessions had concrete numbers, case studies, etc., especially the cost and pricing data. Not much of “how-to” information mentioned by speakers. I was looking forward to hear some of the data especially from mobile sessions as Japan is the leading market in mobile, but the presentations were more focused on the concept of advertising and marketing.

I spoke at two sessions at ad:tech Tokyo. One was the “Latest Trend and Future of SEM” at SEMPO’s sponsored session, and the other was the only “Search Marketing” session at the conference with representatives from Yahoo and Google. The Search Marketing session was a panel discussion form, but we used several slides to give a visual information to supplement the discussion. Yahoo and Google gave the tool and service information, how brands could benefit from the search marketing. I talked about the search marketing trends in US and how the large size corporations were adopting the search marketing into their operation. – I really wish we had more time to talk… hoping that there will be more search related sessions next year!

This was the first conference in Japan that I saw people were on Twitter. The difference was that people tweeted about their comments about the sessions rather than to report what was said. Many people use Twitter as micro-blogging tool at the conferences in US and Europe, but here, it was used to express their feelings and opinions.

Overall, it was a great conferences, and I’d love to see more of these great events in Japan. It is definitely needed to close the gap between the service providers and client’s in their view and knowledge level of search and advertising.