Brittany Fleit

With 10,000 attendees, illustrious speakers and hundreds of companies mingling at ad:tech each year, it’s not hard to get distracted and forget why we go: to learn about upcoming technology in the industry and use it to improve businesses, to network, to close deals and to spot hot new startups ready to challenge Silicon Valley’s kings. To make it all a little easier, we’ve sorted through the shenanigans and pinpointed some key reminders. So without further ado, here are five takeaway lessons from this year’s ad:tech.

1. Session and keynote topics don’t represent the full scope of trends.
As the tech titans often buy out slots for ad:tech’s keynote presentations, it’s important to remember that they don’t represent the full range of trends and concepts. Get a little friendly and talk to the person sitting next to you about their thoughts or head on down to the expo floor to discover new ideas that are about to sell big to VCs.

2. Reconsider who your consumer is.
Much of ad:tech this year focused on how to relate better to your consumers. The “Is There an iPad Killer” session taught us that consumers don’t want fully digitalized ads on their tablets; they actually prefer simplified hybrid ads with a few innovative quirks. The Zynga, EA and Microsoft panelists showed us how to extend beyond disruptive banners and get users excited to promote brands inside of games by relating to their specific interest in limited-time-only “mini levels.” Finally, “Digital Couponing” demonstrated how to recognize and reward your top-spending customers with VIP placement that helps them feel valued while earning your company sustainability cred.

3. When it comes to advertisements, content is crucial.
Both in Facebook and email marketing, the creative content of ads is one of the biggest determiners as to how well the ad performs. One marketer’s research exemplified how the strongest creative ad resulted in four times the CTR (click-through rate) as the weakest creative ad. Once again, the “Facebook Ads 101” workshop drilled into our heads that images are key to acquiring your audience’s attention. When all else fails, keep refreshing your creative with relevant, cute or even shocking pictures to up clicks.

4. If you’re on the expo floor, get a little creative.
There were so many companies this year that passed on the free-pen-and-candy gimmicks and opted for a little creativity. Among the best ideas were a middle aged man dressed as a baby angel, models, beer pong, magicians, gypsies, free hats and free iPads. It’s no surprise that these booths garnished the most attention.

5. Have a few drinks.
Yes, you heard us. As I was eavesdropping on a conversation involving one of ad:tech’s organizers, I overheard her mention that they started the pub crawl as a way to keep people at the convention and keep them networking. As people start to loosen up, they become more open to ideas and making deals. Not to mention the fact that you get to brag to your friends about how you tasted a local microbrew they’ve never tried.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech San Francisco event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.