It has been hard to find vendors or visitors regretting their presence at NAB 2022, or suggesting they will not come next year, despite the significant drop in overall numbers.
No doubt there are malcontents lurking there, but it is clear the overriding sentiment was one of satisfaction, or perhaps relief that more normal life had returned in the world of broadcasting trade shows, as in other areas. NAB has always been the dominant broadcasting show, alongside IBC for its international reach, and as the first to reconvene fully since the pandemic, benefited from pent up demand for face-to-face contact and interaction. Many exhibitors indicated not just that attendance had done them good individually by granting them exposure and being able to demonstrate products to large numbers live, but also that it gave the whole industry a fillip by generating interest, momentum and even impulse purchases.
That is not to deny that allocation of marketing budgets has changed fundamentally since the pandemic, with less going to trade shows and more to online events or other promotional activities. But the outcome of NAB 2022 does strongly suggest that trade shows will retain a core function for at least bringing key motivators and decision makers together and for exploiting the chemistry of direct human engagement. It is not just about marketing, but also forging alliances and driving innovation, which also benefit from the bond of human contact.
This was certainly the experience of Rick Young, SVP, Global Products at LTN Global, a provider of video ecosystem technology based in Maryland, USA. “In-person events are crucial to building relationships and promoting greater collaboration in our industry,” said Young. “NAB Show 2022 was an extremely successful event where we were able to engage with our customers and partners in person again and connect with some old, and new, faces after a long time spent apart.”
Young was especially enamored by the scope for panels to engage audiences with the innovations and insights that had gone into product development. “The event provided an excellent platform for us to showcase our latest innovations, LTN Lift and LTN Arc,” he said. “At the same time, our team of experts appeared on several insightful and engaging panels spotlighting a range of key themes currently affecting the media landscape.” LTN Lift is a cloud playout system and Arc is a managed service that handles versioning for live events.
NAB 2022 traded quantity for quality, according to Fernando Amendola, head of marketing and strategy for Synamedia’s video network business.
Attendance at NAB 2023 next year was almost a given after the experience. “We’re confident this year’s show gave us a strong platform to drive our product roadmap through the rest of the year, and we’re looking forward to being back in Las Vegas in 2023, but first, Amsterdam for IBC in September,” Young concluded.
The point about headline attendance numbers being misleading was made by Mark Beard, SVP International at Planetcast International, a provider of cloud-based playout services featuring disaster recovery. “Although show numbers dropped by nearly one half compared with previous years, attendees were highly engaged and energised,” said Beard. “We had some great meetings with customers, partners and the media & analyst community throughout the show.”
The show was particularly timely for Planetcast at a time of global expansion for the company, Beard added. “NAB Show 2022 was about launching our international portfolio of cloud media services for the global market, building on our parent company Planetcast Media Services’ 25-year heritage and deep expertise across India and Southeast Asia,” said Beard. “We wanted to showcase our proven cloud playout, media asset management, and innovative free disaster recovery services to the media and entertainment industry in person. The show certainly provided the platform for us to do that.”
Beard was in no doubt Planetcast would be back next year. “In-person events are hugely important for our industry,” he said. “They offer a fantastic opportunity to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. And as we expand our international presence and continue to serve world-leading brands with our cloud media services, we’ll have a presence at key industry events to showcase our technology on the biggest stage and tell our story.”
Very similar sentiments were expressed by Synamedia, the UK based video technology business relaunched 2018 after being sold by Cisco to investment firm Permira.
“NAB delivered way above expectations,” said Fernando Amendola, head of marketing and strategy for Synamedia’s video network business. “We traded quantity for quality. Attendance was significantly below pre-pandemic days but visitors to our booth were ready to engage, go deep, and ask the right questions. We never heard the typical tradeshow question ‘so, what do you guys do?’.”
This theme about quality was echoed by Harmonic, a veteran of such events. “We also noticed that the quality of meetings at this year’s show were high compared with previous years, despite there being less attendees,” said Gil Rudge, Vice President, Video Sales & Services, Americas, at Harmonic. “Those we spoke with at the show came prepared with focused goals to discuss their projects and initiatives, which made NAB 2022 extremely effective and successful for Harmonic.”
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Covid-19 may have changed the course of broadcasting but has not slowed its development, judging from NAB 2022, the first major industry show with a physical presence since before the pandemic.