The Must-Attend Media Events Of 2012

According to John Durham at CatalystSF, there were only eight business days in 2011 without an industry event. A quick look at the conference calendar confirms this year appears to be no different. Given this onslaught of events, it’s important to prioritize the conferences that are crucial to attend. Otherwise it might be difficult to get any work done at all!

Here are some of the events that I’m looking forward to this year:

Jan. 10-13: CES. The Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place this week in Las Vegas, has changed over the past few years. While there is plenty of technology on display, the consumer product release cycle is now year-round and some major companies like Apple do not participate in CES at all. Microsoft is also moving away from the event after this year.

However, the event has become an important meeting place for media companies, marketers and agencies. Much of the action now happens outside the exhibit halls, along the edges of the event. That’s where people meet and deals get done. Influential consultants like MediaLink now host what’s become one of the must-attend events of the conference, its CES Kickoff Party.

Jan. 30 & 31: OMMA/Media Magazine Agency of the Year Awards. MediaPost offers a number of excellent events each year, but the Agency of the Year awards at the Yale Club in New York are a personal favorite. It’s great to see agencies and their energetic teams be rewarded for their creativity and long hours.

Feb. 26-28: IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. This Interactive Advertising Bureau annual meeting is one of the most important digital media events of the year. The hundreds of media professionals in attendance have literally built the digital media industry over the past two decades. This year’s event will be in sunny Miami, which is another good reason to attend.

March 26-28: 4As National Conference. Last year’s 4As event had some fireworks, with agency holding company CEOs speaking out on the need for better talent management and recruiting practices. I’m interested to see what the follow-up will be this year at the event in Beverly Hills.

June 17-23: Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. If you like to drink rosé wine by the gallon and mingle with industry professionals on yachts on the Mediterranean, then Cannes Advertising Festival is the conference for you. But the reason I like Cannes is because it is the rare industry event where agency creatives and media people mingle together en masse. And while it’s still primarily a creative conference, media companies like Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL now underwrite much of the fun.

Oct. 1-5: Advertising Week 9. In just eight years this event has become the premier New York media advertising event. Given the sheer number of presentations, venues and parties, it’s impossible to attend it all so you need to choose your spots. Also, last year it seemed that “panel fatigue” had set in with too many people covering too many topics. Hopefully, in 2012 the event will be tightened up a bit.

Nov. 7 & 8: ad:tech New York. While I find the exhibition hall of this event at the Javits Center in New York completely overwhelming, last year’s keynote by Walter Isaacson was fascinating. Also, the Chairman’s Reception is an important networking event.

Dec.: TD Foundation Annual Holiday Event. The Tom Deierlein Foundation event is the media industry at its most altruistic. For more information visit the new web site at

This is by no means an exhaustive list of must-attend events. SXSW, E3, Montreaux Festival of Media, ANA, UBS Media Conference, DMA, Business Insider’s Ignition, WPP’s Stream, iMedia, OMMA Global and the Monaco Media Forum are also important events.

And as industry vet Liberty Carras recently pointed out, the events you should attend depend on your experience level and role. For example, for those just starting out in media sales who cover a specific region, it would be best to get involved in local organizations first before attending large national events.

So what events are you looking forward to this year?

  • nicholas johnson

    Agreed on the Tom D holiday event. Great time for a great cause. Also, for sales leaders, think that Doug Weaver’s Seller’s Forum is a strong event. Educational and strong networking.