Like so many others I have been meaning to write up my thoughts on last week’s New Media Expo. One thing that is interesting as i read about the conference on other people’s blogs is that there are three different conferences that are being described.
- The first conference that I have read about is the hypothetical conference described by people who did not go this year. Let’s set that aside as an echo of shows past.
- The second conference I read about is from people who attended for free so they only attended the keynotes and the expo floor. I did this at the first expo in 2005 because i registered too late to attend the conference sessions. There are various good reasons why people attend the conference in this fashion.Leo Laporte and to a lesser extent the Orange County podcasters spend the show broadcasting live from the expo floor.
Some people attend the expo only for cost reasons because even though the conference is inexpensive for a conference, it is still too expensive for some. I appreciate that Tim and Emil Bourquin have added the free session to the expo floor for new podcasters who may not be able to afford the conference.
Some people only attend the expo because they have been podcasting for years now and have less to learn from the conference or at least perceive they do.
- The third conference is the five tracks of the conference itself. This is the third year that I have attended the conference sessions. There were quite a few podcasters I ran into who were just getting started or who were just hoping to get started. The conference sessions target the practical aspects of podcasting and are well suited for someone who are still learning. I attend the conference because even though I have been podcasting for 3 years I love to learn and am constantly taking notes or mailing myself emails of new ideas I should try. I also like to support the Bourquin brothers and there effort which is one of the reasons I pay to attend.
My thoughts on the New Media Expo:
I was one of the people who was afraid that it would be easier for a smaller conference like the NME to get lost in such a huge city like Las Vegas. We have friends in Las vegas who have a guest house where I could have stayed for free, but I specifically stayed in the conference hotel (the Hilton) because I knew it would take more effort to connect with people. Vegas is expensive, when you are buying a Rueben sandwich and a coke for $16 it feels a bit like the exchange rate in London.
The cost of doing business in Vegas seemed to be a big reason why there were no hospitality suites or big free parties. For people like me who were already connected this was a bit of a barrier for meeting new people but I would think it was a greater barrier for the first time attendee who might not know anyone else. They could not just stand in the lobby of the Hilton as I did on a few occasions to see who I would run into.
Brian Ibbot’s Coverville 500 was a wonderful exception. The music was great, the acoustics much better than last year’s concert and everyone I talked to seemed to be having a particularly wonderful time.
I have heard it reported that the show floor was smaller this year. It wasn’t, but it was not really any larger either. I have heard it said that the show floor had less interesting vendors but I would say that over the years there has been an improvement in the quality of the vendors. Remember 2-3 years ago the expo floor had no microphone manufacturers and more than a few people just selling iPod cases. People like Rob Walsh of Wizzard Media did tell me they thought the foot traffic was down from last year. I only spent a couple of hours on the expo floor so i would not claim to be able to judge.
The biggest crowds were gathered by the live broadcasts which are always fun and I do wish I had more time to sit down and enjoy them. I would love it if the expo could stay open for another hour after the end of the conferences but i can understand if those who have been on their feet all day by that time might not agree.
The most useless booth in my opinion was Podcast Tuneup which had a great booth but could not explain to me in 5 minutes just what they were offering or at least could not make me care. Others who had been podcasting even longer then I have walked away with a similar impression.
I attended the first two keynotes by Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV and George Wright, VP of Marketing for Will It Blend, Blendtec. I thought both gave engaging and interesting talks.
I won’t say I agreed with everything Vaynerchuk presented (I personally heavily edit my shows) and yes his language was a bit coarser than I tend to employ (I know one person who walked out) but I appreciated that he knows what he wants (to own the New York Jets). My DNA and his are very different in our personalities but his talk gave me plenty of food for thought on what are my strengths and how I can leverage them.
Wright not only blended a cell phone and a rake but more amazingly described a marketing program that actually makes money and multiplied his companies sales by 7x. I find myself repeating his company’s story to others wondering how I can apply some of his lessons. Anyone got a blender?
A number of the speakers were doing return engagements but my overall impression was that the material being offered at the sessions was better than in years past. I did not miss the panel sessions which there had been in previous years. I often found myself listening to someone I have heard before like Tim Street, Tom Merritt or Don MacAllister but as the show went on I started ignoring some talks that I knew would be good to listen to people I have never heard of. I was trying to decide between a session with Rob Walsh, Shel Holtz or Paul Colligan only to have Melanie Van Orden run by excited about a session I had dismissed with Andrew Lock of Help My Business Sucks!. Andrew, who is new to podcasting, described an approach for putting together a video podcast that again was thought provoking.
One of my favorite sessions was Tom Webster from Edison Research who went through some of their research on podcast listeners/viewers.
- Are significantly more educated than the general public
- Spend more money than the general public
- Are much more likely to buy online than the general public
- listen to 7.5 hours of audio a week vs 6 for the general public
- Are less likely watch TV, listen to radio, play video games, click on banners
It was again a blast to hang out with other podcasters. I did not get to spend as much time with as many podcasters as i would have liked because of that whole pesky sleep thing. I was unable to attend Paul Colligan’s profitable podcasting meetup for the first time because of a conflict with the worship service hosted by Steve Webb. I still have not had a chance to meet Leo Laporte or Amber Mac which makes me sad. I missed all of those who have been there in previous years who did not make it but I also enjoyed encouraging new podcasters.
My Favorite Moments
Chris Marquart, Alex Lindsay and I were talking when someone came up and pointed at me and said “you were my first audio podcaster” and then at Chris and said “and you were my first video one”. He is now looking at creating a podcast about Philadelphia.
I talked to some podcasters who had never recorded a show last year but who now have done 200 episodes. I am afraid that some of the people who left with the impression that podcasting may be fading did not see Tom Webster’s statistics or get a chance to look in the eyes of some of the new members of the podcast community.
My thanks again to Tim and Emil Bourquin. I know Tim has written that he is so frustrated with the conference business that he may quit. Whatever is ahead for the podcast brothers I appreciate the effort that has gone into each of the 4 conferences now called the New Media Expo.