Hark, New Ideas

As many of you know, thanks to ClickZ’s coverage of the show, @d:tech New York once again invaded our soil this past Monday.

Three full days of workshops, exhibits, panels and speakers that will hopefully help attendees to be better online advertisers. The show is a terrific one, and it tends to be a lot more focused on the advertising aspects of the web than some of the other shows we online advertisers attend.

What really overwhelmed me about the show was the exhibit hall. The exhibit hall in the Hilton was by no means as crazed as the floor at I-World. Definitely no laser beams, corporate Humvees or artificial-looking actors wearing headset microphones to be found at @d:tech. However, there were a lot of companies there that had something to offer. I started walking from booth to booth, which is when I started hearing that cynical voice in my head…

“Tom,” it said, “do you really think this new rich media company stands a chance?”

There were a lot of new companies exhibiting at @d:tech that I had never heard of before. Some had just launched. Many were entering already-crowded marketplaces against much larger and better-established competitors. And as I moved from booth to booth, the cynical voice in my head got louder and louder.

“Tom, this new ad management company will have to play catch up for years. Why even bother speaking to them? Move on to the next booth.”

I soon realized that Mr. Cynical Voice would get me into a lot of trouble if I started listening to him. It took the better part of a day, but I managed to get around to almost all of the booths and find out what everyone was up to.

The Internet has taught me a valuable lesson, one that I almost forgot when I saw how many companies were exhibiting at @d:tech: The Internet showed the world that a strange combination of competition and collaboration would put the best products and services into the hands of consumers. The same holds true for products and services offered to online advertisers.

Sure, that new ad network will have to fight a tough uphill battle to survive against the 24/7s and DoubleClicks of the world, but that doesn’t mean it can’t bring new ideas or new perspectives to an established sector of online advertising.

As online media planners, we need to be familiar with those new ideas and perspectives if we’re going to be able to recommend the best for our clients.

What the @d:tech show helped me to reinforce in my mind is the notion that we can’t write off the little guy. Even if the smallest company introduces a new product that competes with offerings from some of the biggest corporate entities around, we can’t let complacency keep us from exploring those new offerings.

Who knows what will happen to the little guy? Maybe he won’t win the battle against his overwhelming competition, but he may contribute an idea that makes the competition look at things in a different way. Maybe he ends up getting acquired by the big guys or striking a strategic partnership with them. You never know.

Remember this the next time your cynical voice tells you to “go with the flow”: New ideas and new perspectives are what made the Internet what it is today. Dismissing those ideas without a fair assessment goes against everything the Internet stands for. If you listen to these new ideas, you will benefit from them in ways that may not be apparent now, but may be later.

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