4A’s Attendance Off About 40%

NEW YORK Just as the ad business is suffering in the recession, industry-related trade shows are also hurting. The American Association of Advertising Agencies’ Media Conference, set to begin next week in New Orleans, has so far registered only about 600 attendees, less than half the 1,300 total that attended last year.

Word of the lower registration level for the 4A’s media gathering follows the Outdoor Advertising Association of America’s cancellation of its May conference. Anecdotally, sources at several agencies said their shops were also cutting back on the number of employees being sent to other industry gatherings, including the advertising awards show in Cannes, France, in June.

“The reality is conferences related to this industry are going to be smaller this year,” due to the recession, said a rep for the 4A’s who stressed the show would not be cancelled. 4A’s president Nancy Hill was not available for comment.

Exhibit booths for the trade show portion of the event have sold well, the rep said, noting that there were just two or three slots left for sale.

Registration for the 4As media conference tends to surge as the show approaches, but even so, sources familiar with the situation say conference organizers don’t expect more than 800 to register for the event.

The attendance record was set two years ago when 1,600 registered for the show when it convened in Las Vegas.