4As Media Conference Feeling Economy

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 final registration tally of 1,300 that registered for last year’s show.
 
Word of the lower registration level for the 4As media gathering follows confirmation last week by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America that its conference, scheduled for May, had been cancelled at the urging of cost-conscious OAAA members. 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.
 
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, or close to a 40 percent decline from last year. (The attendance record was set two years ago when 1,600 registered for the show when it convened in Las Vegas.)
 
A 4As rep confirmed the current registration tally of approximately 600 but declined to speculate on final attendance. “The reality is conferences related to this industry are going to be smaller this year,” due to the recession, the rep said. Four A’s president Nancy Hill was not available for comment.
 
The rep did stress that the media show would go on and at no point had organizers considered canceling it. Exhibit booths for the trade show portion of the event have sold well, he said, noting that there were just two or three slots left for sale. Plans for a volunteer event to refurbish a school in New Orleans were canceled in December after talks with several charitable organizations couldn’t finalize a venue, the rep confirmed.