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Let's Take a Meeting

Does TiVo spell the death of the traditional advertising on TV? What's the latest with product placement? Is syndication worth a look? Should the upfront market be restructured? Is God dead?

If you've been losing sleep over these questions (and please, don't say you haven't thought about that last one lately), then there's an upcoming ad conference for you. At least four major ones are coming up in the next six weeks: the first annual conference of the Syndicated Network Television Association next week; the American Association of Advertising Agencies' annual TV conference; the Association of National Advertisers' Television Advertising Forum and the Television Bureau of Advertising's Annual Marketing Conference.

Attendance registration figures appear to be holding up. The TVB is expecting at least 1,000 people at its conference and maybe more, up significantly from last year's overflow crowd of 750.

Last year, TVB turned people away. This year, it has expanded its space.

The AAAA is expecting 900 at its media conference in New Orleans, the same as last year. The trade-show portion of that conference is sold out, with 90 vendors taking booths.

As of last week, the preregistration tally was about 700, but, as with many conferences, lots of procrastinators sign up last minute or on-site. Conference officials say flat attendance would be good, especially with the still-uncertain overall advertising outlook.

First up: the SNTA conference, which will convene Feb. 25-26 in New York. First-year attendance is expected to be between 750 and 1,000.

Over a year ago, as SNTA members were reorganizing their trade group, they decided to stage a stand-alone conference and forgo meeting with ad buyers at NATPE. It makes sense, they believe, because most of the key players on both sides are based in New York and the timing of the conference is closer to the season.

Most of the two-day event will be reserved for one-on-one meetings that will focus on what's new (as well as other opportunities) for the 2003-04 syndicated-TV season.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the opening general session will discuss the whys and wherefores of the syndication business and how advertisers can use the medium to complement their overall media plans.

Next up is the AAAA's media conference March 5-7. The theme of this year's show is "Media in a Time of Change," which, given the pace of developments in this business, would probably work next year and five years from now as well.

On Wednesday night, March 5, featured speaker is conservative columnist William Safire.

Thursday kicks off with a state-of-the-industry address by AAAA President O. Burtch Drake followed by a briefing by Media Policy Committee Chairman Renetta McCann. After a briefing on Washington matters, attendees will get an earful on "consumers and technology—where are they now?"

AOL Time Warner's Don Logan will be on hand to discuss the latest trends in publishing and online media, and outgoing Cabletelevision Advertising President Joe Ostrow will receive the AAAA's Lifetime Achievement Award.

There's no golf at the ANA's TV Ad Forum in New York March 13, but the day starts off bright and early with breakfast at 7:45. The first session addresses the upfront market and whether it makes sense anymore. Panelists include Mike Shaw, president, advertising sales, ABC, and Joe Abruzzese, president, advertising sales, Discovery Network (and former head of ad sales at CBS). Also on the panel are Donna Wolfe, director of broadcast negotiations, McCann-Erickson, and David Verklin, CEO, Carat North America.

The TVB has once again tied its conference to the New York Auto Show and will gather at the Javits Convention Center April 15. Toyota COO Jim Press, will be a featured speaker.

The conference will also feature an automotive "super-session" with top executives from broadcasting's biggest ad category on hand to tell it like it is. Michael Lotito, former president of Initiative North America and now managing partner in Media IQ, will moderate a session on media-allocation decisions.

LIN TV Vice President Greg Schmidt will lead a discussion on digital television, and Victor Miller will moderate a session on the impact of technology, process changes and convergence on broadcasting. NBC's Meet the Press
moderator Tim Russert is guest speaker.