On the eve of OnMedia NYC: media and advertising industries still optimistic about 2008

The media industry has always been a fertile ground for innovation, but with a growing number of technology plays and social media sites entering the space, the past few years have been especially lively.

I'm off to New York for the OnMedia conference from January 28-30. The two-and-a-half day event features technology CEOs from Silicon Valley leading presentations and debates with their counterparts in global advertising and media. It will be a dynamic crowd that's coming together to discuss emerging user trends and new opportunities in the marketing, branding, advertising, and public relations industries.

The list of speakers includes web 2.0 entrepreneurs such as Steve Rosenbaum (CEO, Magnify.net), Ami Kassar (Chief Innovation Officer, ideablob), and Matt Colebourne, (CEO, coComment); established content players such as Jim Spanfeller (President, Forbes.com) and Adam Berrey (SVP Marketing and Strategy, Brightcove); and investors such as Joshua Tanzer (Managing Director, Revolution Partners), and Andrew Cleland (Executive Director, Investments, Time Warner). The concluding panel on Wednesday, "Big Media Online. Now Comes the Hard Part: Sustaining Growth," promises to be particularly interesting as it brings together such different figures as A-list blogger Jeff Jarvis (Buzzmachine) and Gordon McLeod, President of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network.

The media industry has always been a fertile ground for innovation, but with a growing number of technology plays and social media sites entering the space, the past couple of years have been especially lively. And this year, pundits say, we're likely to see more disruptive business models and subsequent M&As -- despite the looming recession.

The annual AdMedia survey of ad and marketing executives and private-equity investors claims that "respondents are surprisingly optimistic about the environment for M&A deals and M&A valuations in 2008." Eighty percent of the executives surveyed expect their organizations will be involved in media mergers and acquisitions in 2008 despite widespread concerns about the prospects for the U.S. economy. According to the survey, M&A activity is likely to focus on sectors such as search marketing, mobile marketing, and viral marketing.

This view is supported by an article in The Economist, which offers a differentiated but not overly gloomy perspective on the prospects of the advertising industry this year. According to the magazine, a possible recession will hit TV and print advertising sectors much harder than online advertising:

"In rich countries the internet is claiming a growing share of advertising -- at the expense of traditional media, such as TV and print. There is still a gap between the time people spend online as a fraction of their media consumption (about a fifth) and the fraction of marketing budgets spent on the internet (about 7.5%). Many companies are trying to narrow the gap, which will sustain internet advertising during a downturn. Search advertising, the most effective kind of all, should be safest."


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