Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 2014

NAB Delivers the News

By Michelle R. Davis

The National Association of Broadcasters created a custom newsfeed to update attendees on exhibitor news — and then lets exhibitors know who is interested in them.

When the NAB Show wanted to help exhibitors reach beyond their display booths, organizers turned to a new software platform that provides their conference community with a continually updated news-feed on exhibitor activities. But because the newsfeed — IndustryTracker, a technology tool introduced in the United States last year — is automated, NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) doesn't need to constantly poll its 1,550 exhibitors to keep abreast of the latest industry developments.

By automatically scanning exhibitor websites, IndustryTracker continuously updates the newsfeed, which is displayed on NAB's website, where the organization's more than 90,000 attendees can monitor it year-round. IndustryTracker can also send out newsletters on the latest developments among NAB Show exhibitors. “It's a value-add for the exhibitor, because it helps push their news out there,” said Michelle Kelly, NAB's senior vice president of convention marketing. “It's great for us, because we don't have to reach out to every exhibitor and say, ‘What's new?’”

The NAB Show began using IndustryTracker this past January, and so far has limited its newsfeed to updates about exhibitors. But other organizations are going beyond that. IndustryTracker uses a complicated algorithm, similar to Netflix's model, to customize its offerings. If an attendee fills out a profile indicating companies, sectors, or favored topics, the software will scan websites of exhibitors — and any other sites that conference organizers choose — for news matching those interests. The attendee's personalized newsfeed will be updated continuously, and IndustryTracker will also generate and send out personalized newsletters.

“Our approach is to give readers all of the content,” said Rick Dobson, vice president of U.S. sales for ExpoBee, the Tel Aviv-based company that created IndustryTracker, “and then give them the means to filter it for themselves.” He added: “NAB might have 100,000 readers, and there could be 100,000 unique newsfeeds.”

A recent visit to the NAB Show's newsfeed included stories about open-source video platform Kaltura's having garnered $47 million in investment funding and Planar's new product line of LED displays. The following day, the stories were different. As of now, NAB isn't asking attendees to create personal profiles to filter news, because it doesn't want to compete with its other requests for attendee information. But as the NAB Show gets more experience with IndustryTracker, Kelly said, it may tap into the product's other capabilities.

The service costs $10 per exhibitor and an additional $10 per company annually as a maintenance fee. It works well for organizations, Dobson said, because the expense usually comes from the marketing budget, not the show budget, which is typically a finite amount of money. “This is not a show-oriented product,” Dobson said. “This is designed to serve the community the other 362 days a year.”

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