Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review of Internet World 2009 by a 'VIP'!

Just returned from visiting Internet World 2009 at Earl's Court in London and though I'd post a review, to go alongside my A4U Expo review from last October. For some reason I was made a VIP ticket holder this year, which was far less exciting than it might sound - but more on that later! As with my previous reviews, I'll stick to some easy-to-read bullet points on the good and bad features of the show.

Good things...
  • No queues and quick entry. Unlike Ad:Tech London last year (which somehow I forgot to blog about) there was no queuing in the rain at Internet World. In fact they did a good job with clearly signed entry points for badge holders, returning visitors, etc.
  • Usual mixture of companies, including a few new names (but not many small/start up types - more on that later!)
  • A couple of good seminars (i.e. ones that weren't pitches in disguise!). One that stood out was the Webcredible presentation on usability which consisted of slide after slide of practical and real life examples of good and bad pratice. One example they gave which made me chuckle was about a lady who entered 'yes' in the Confirm your Email box on a sign-up form - makes you realise the importance of wording on such things.
  • Chatting to the guys at the Branded 3 who came dressed as if they were going to the beach (at least I hope that was the intention!). Patrick wasn't around when I got to the stand, but I passed on the thanks for his excellent work on the BlogStorm blog and I'm seriously thinking of hiring these guys to help promote a TV related project which I mentioned to them on the day.
  • Talking to the guys at Rackspace and learning more about their Mosso cloud hosting service, although I'm still a little concerned that it's going to be good enough to host a busy forum which can have some pretty high CPU usage. Hmm...
Bad things and/or room for improvement!
  • Seminar rooms (or 'theatres' !!) were way too small, hot and stuffy. The queues for virtually all the presentations were massive and a lot of people ended up having to stand. Considering they would have known how many tickets they normally issue (this is hardly their first year!) they should have predicted the need for bigger venues.
  • I was given a VIP ticket this year which, according to the Internet World web site, would get me access to the "VIP Lounge" for complimentary refreshments in an 'oasis of calm'. This area was sponsored by the guys at WebOptimiser and I'm not sure it will have given them any good PR. The 'lounge' was a small square area with a waist height fence surrounding it, so you had people and stands on all sides - hardly an oasis of calm! Furthermore they couldn't get the refreshments sorted out and the coffee/tea stand was often completely empty. I heard a few people grumbling about this, but to be fair it did seem a bit better stocked on the last day.
  • The layout of the show was shockingly bad. I'm sure they previously had much clearer 'zones' for the various sectors (CMS providers, hosting, sales, etc.) but this year I found myself going around and around trying to find certain stands. Furthermore, the guy from Webcredible even made a joke that giving out his stand number wouldn't help us find him, so he pointed in the rough direction and wished us luck (I might have embellished that last part, but you get the idea!).
Might not be IW's fault, but...
  • I guess this is more a reflection of the industry maturing and the worldwide recession, but I felt that this year's show lacked any kind of 'buzz'. Beyond the guys at the Peer1 stand, there was very little in the way of razzmatazz of previous years. The whole show felt a bit dull and it seemed to be reflected in the mood of some of the exhibitors and guests.
  • There weren't many startups or upcoming companies. They had a French Pavilion (again think artistic license in terms of it being a 'pavilion') - but this just seemed a bit random. Also there weren't any affiliate companies or many of the larger ad networks (no Ad.com, Value Click, etc.).
Closing thoughts

Given the absence of the large ad networks, the affiliate companies and a general "here's Internet World 2009, take it or leave it" atmosphere, I wonder whether this show will continue without a radical shake-up of either their pricing for exhibitors, or without a clearer focus on the types of companies that are meant to be there.

Shows such as Ad:Tech (despite the queues last year!) and A4U Expo appear to be stealing not only the limelight but also the lion's share of exhibitors.

Other reviews of Internet World 2009...

"Once I had finished my £6.95 Jacket potato and beans I rushed back to the theatre as I most certainly did not want to miss the talk from Mark Watts-Jones of Orange. I arrived (30mins early) to a queue reminiscent of the toilet queues for the London marathon." - Social Media Mashup

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