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Adtech SydneyAs a lot of people would have seen from my exuberant twitter stream yesterday, I attended the first day conference of ad:tech Sydney at the Sydney Convention Centre. I had to fight for my ticket and I was PUMPED and ready to LEARN some serious shit.

Like a fresh faced uni student on her first day, I had my streams all worked out on my little conference schedule sheet and I was already thinking of some of the questions I might ask of the panellists. I even checked into the venue when I arrived using Billy Madison’s catchcry of “back to skool, back to skool” – a clear indication that I expected to do some serious learning for my 9.5 hour and $1200 investment. (Ok so the $1200 was really my company’s investment, but you get the idea).

I hadn’t been to a nice big conference event for months so my bag was laden with business cards, my brain emptied of all frivolous facts and figures and my iPhone charged to the hilt, ready for the Twitter onslaught. By now you should have gotten the idea – I was like a little Somalian immigrant illegally arriving to the shores of Australia for the first time full of hopes and dreams and wonder.

And like that same poor Somalian I left much earlier than expected after a drawn-out process where all my hopes, dreams and wonder were systematically and comprehensively bludgeoned into a gory, horrifying death, which left me thinking that perhaps I would have been better looking for online IT courses instead? After the last stream session (What Does Social Mean for Online Retail, where a number of businesses presented who had clearly been given their presentation opportunity from the money they had put towards sponsorship rather than actually having any clear idea about using social in the retail world) I trudged to the nearest taxi struggling to think of any clear takeaways or ideas I had gleaned from the entire day’s ‘education’. The one thing that came to mind was “never, ever, ever go to ad:tech again”.

And yes I even forwent the free networking drinks due to my crushing disappointment at the day. And alcohol and networking are pretty much my two FAVOURITE THINGS. I’m practically a certified alcoholic networking whore. So the fact I left prior to this should demonstrate the sheer dejection I was experiencing.

I can imagine that many of you are aghast at these statements, as it seems through the Twitter stream that plenty of people are getting lots from the conference. And perhaps I should reveal a tiny disclosure: I am notoriously hard to please. I’ve known this from when I was a child sitting around the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, surrounded by kilometres of barbie dolls, clothes, jewels and gold bullion bars but still wondering why my sister had another present to open when I was done.

So I admit, maybe it’s just me. I have seen plenty of tweets shooting across the stream exclaiming at how great the event was and how much there was to be learnt. But I have to say: Really? REALLY?

The streams I attended were basically presenter upon presenter running through a few hastily put-together slides trying to cover case-studies in under 10 minutes that needed a good half-hour to really provide value. One of the speakers in my first stream didn’t even get to speak as we ran so far over time – I can only imagine how frustrating that would have been for her. Whoever thought having 4-5 speakers to cover a topic in 45 minutes was a good idea must have had a big juicy serving of idiocy for breakfast.

And another thing. Where were my morning tea cookies or afternoon muffins? Where was my bottle of water? Where was my notepad?! For $1200 I expect to at the least get adequately fed and be given the basic tools I need for the day. But nothing. REALLY ad:tech? I can’t imagine you paid many (if any) of the speakers given most of them were getting free plugs for their businesses. Where exactly did my money go?

I’ll admit there were a few interesting stats, and I got a couple of good ideas and contacts from speaking to the exhibitors. I greatly enjoyed the Twitter stream – my favourite part of the day. I also enjoyed the social gaming session because these presenters did a great job of demonstrating opportunities and examples as well as answering questions from the crowd.

But from my past event organising experience the one thing I’ve learnt is you have to give your audience something practical that they can take away and implement the next day, and as I sit at my desk trying to answer the questions of my colleagues about my ad:tech experience, I can’t think of a single thing.

Maybe I just attended the wrong streams, or maybe my expectations were just too high. But after all my positive anticipation, I find myself bereft of any real insights that I couldn’t have gotten from the free exhibition pass, a few searches on google and following the #atsyd hashtag on twitter.

So tell me, am I being too harsh? Did I miss the point completely?

Please tell me that you got something from the event, so I can feel a little less angry at the world as I spend the entire day catching up on my 200 emails from yesterday. I hope to god it’s just me.

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