As you may know, the MarTech conference series is produced by a company called Third Door Media. They’re the amazing team that does all the hard work for the event with facilities, logistics, registration, sponsors, and exhibitors.
As program chair, I get to do all the fun stuff: define the editorial agenda, work with speakers, and perform my nerdy version of a master of ceremonies.
An intentional benefit of this structure is that, from the start, there’s been a solid “church and state” division between sponsorship and editorial — they’re contractually run by two separate entities. I don’t get involved in sponsorship. They don’t get involved in editorial.
There’s absolutely no surreptitious “pay-for-play.” We’ve had major vendors offer large sums to buy a speaking slot in the program — or threaten to not exhibit at all. Our response has always been: that’s too bad, we’ll miss you.
The main benefit of this arrangement is that conference attendees can be assured that the speakers they’re paying to hear are on stage because I believed that they had editorial value to share about the present and future of marketing technology management in the real world. Period. A few of those speakers are affilaited with marketing technology vendors, but most are not. Some are coincidentally exhibitors, but others have never paid us a dime. They are completely independent variables.
To help prevent even inadvertent influence between sponsorship and editorial, I refuse to look at any list of who’s signed up to exhibit or sponsor until I finish programming the agenda.
So when I pop my head up and see that dozens and dozens of amazing companies are signed up to exhibit, I get the full head-on rush of discovering them all at once. I just looked yesterday and saw there are now 86 marketing technology companies exhibiting — holy cow!
See, as adamant as I am that marketing tech vendors should not be the centerpiece of MarTech’s editorial program, the innovations and insights that these companies have to share are incredible. You can learn a tremendous amount of what’s possible by talking to these companies in an exploratory walk among them. I guarantee that you will come away with fresh ideas and inspiration — and a whole new respect for what the state-of-the-art in this industry has to offer.
Spoiler alert — yes, the vendors in the exhibit hall are going to pitch you on their products and services. But that’s what you expect, and it’s all above board. And many of them, I believe, will provide valuable education in the stories they have to share and the examples they will be able to demonstrate to you.
I am seriously looking forward to walking through the exhibits myself — it’s a much higher fidelity experience for learning about new marketing tech providers and capabilities than just surfing their websites.
In many ways, MarTech is two events in one — the editorial conference program and the exhibit hall and sponsored lunch presentations. If you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time to catch the “beta rate” that expires February 13.
Here’s a snapshot of the 86 exhibitors who will be there (and I’ve been told by Third Door that they might be able to squeeze in a few more before the fire marshal objects):