Show for online marketers comes to Chicago

July 12, 2004

BY MICHAEL KRAUSS

The nation's top technology marketers convene in Chicago today for Ad:Tech04. Over 2,000 marketers are expected to attend the two-day event at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. They'll be trading war stories and the latest techniques for connecting with customers and selling their products and services online.

"Ad:Tech is the event for interactive marketing," says Joel Davis, CEO of JD Events, the show organizer. "Ad:Tech has been an icon on the West Coast and the East Coast." Now he's bringing the twice annual show to Chicago because he smells business potential. "We feel it's a tremendous advertising market. There are an enormous number of packaged-goods companies and agencies in Chicago. We'd be missing out if we weren't doing a show in Chicago," he says.

The timing for Chicago is excellent. Interactive marketing is maturing as a business discipline. Online marketing is no longer just for the start-up dot.coms. It's becoming mainstream, and Davis aims to attract marketers and business owners of all stripes.

Pete Petersen, president of travel distribution for United Airlines' loyalty services, keynotes the conference. Petersen is responsible for United.com, the airline's interactive Web site, which operates in 28 countries. Petersen will talk about the online revolution in the travel industry, where sales grew from nil in 1997 to an expected $52 billion this year, according to Petersen.

Petersen's enthusiastic about Ad:Tech coming to town. "Chicago has a great level of online marketing. There are a lot of significant online businesses here. You've got Orbitz, United.com, Sears.com. It's exciting to have the industry experts coming together in a session like this."

Click's Ferro is clicking

Michael Ferro Jr., CEO of Chicago-based Click Commerce, completed the acquisition of Irving, Texas-based bTrade last week. The company Ferro founded in 1996 is a leader in providing technology that enables connections between global organizations and their distribution partners over the Internet. The deal strengthens Click Commerce's hand in the manufacturing, financial services and consumer products industries.

In addition to doing deals, Ferro is active in the classroom, helping a group of 225 elementary students at St. Matthias Transfiguration School on the city's North Side. His goal: to help them gain better access to the Internet and a higher-quality education.

School Principal Mary Stachura couldn't be happier. As players in the Archdiocese of Chicago Big Shoulders Fund program, Ferro and former Leo Burnett CEO Bill Lynch are teaming up to support the economically disadvantaged school.

Stachura says Ferro and Lynch brought in nearly $100,000 in support, including a grant from the Fry Foundation to provide wireless Internet connections in a building with all plaster walls that was built in 1887.

Thanks to Ferro, "every 7th and 8th grade student and their teachers have laptops," adds Stachura. "It's like we died and went to heaven."

The principal lauds Ferro's creativity, energy and willingness to spend time in the classroom inspiring her students.

Jobs for Michigan or Illinois?

The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University says the U.S. Department of Energy's proposed Rare Isotope Accelerator project would contribute $1.9 billion to the Michigan economy over the next 20 years.

That includes an estimated 800 new construction jobs and 400 new laboratory jobs stemming from $900 million in construction costs and an $80 million annual federally funded operating budget.

Michigan and Illinois are competing for the prized research facility.

An estimated $3 million in state funding to support the project is locked up in the Springfield budget battle. Do Gov. Blagojevich and Speaker Madigan have a plan for winning this plum project? Stay tuned.

Bits & bytes

New York-based Internet marketing maven Andy Sernovitz hosts his "Feast for Smart Marketers" event here Monday night. Sernovitz is founder of GasPedal.net, a leading Interactive marketing advisory firm. On hand: Daniel Hess, comScore Networks; Peter DeLegge, Aon; John Seebeck, Crate & Barrel; Chris Henger, Performics; Peter Waldheim, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Brad Spirrison, ePrairie.

Michael Krauss is a tech writer and consultant.

 

 ©2004 Marion Consulting Partners