update from ad:tech

Taking place at Javits center in New York right this very minute is ad:tech 2010–where tech guys try to market things and marketers try to understand what the tech guys (and occasionally girls) are talking about. So far the show seems to be heavy in three areas–mobile, media networks, and a variety of customer acquisition schemers. I say schemers because the 80/20 rule is definitely in effect in the exhibitors hall as it applies to those faking vs. making it.

Of the 20% of companies here that are making it, I’ve already seen a few really innovative ideas and products.

In the mobile space, TeleNav stood out to me as doing something unique and utilitarian. TeleNav produces GPS turn-by-turn voice navigation software that comes preloaded on a lot of smartphones, but can be downloaded to smartphones without it. They recently did a study to see what businesses people searched for when picking a destination, and found that drivers are 2x more likely to search for trusted brands like McDonalds when in an unfamiliar place. Just as Times Square tourists wind up at the Olive Garden because the brand is familiar and they don’t know enough to walk to the great restaurants two blocks west, drivers that are out of their comfort zone don’t know enough not to go to McDonalds. TelNav is selling sponsored listings alongside relevant searches, which gives local advertisers a unique opportunity. Advertisers can now leverage a search for McDonalds within the GPS interface into a meal at a local restaurant. Obviously, this applies to all kinds of retail opportunities.

Time to hit up some more talks and mingle. I’ll be posting a wrap-up of any other good ideas I hear at the end of the show.