Top Ad Tech Conferences For PR Exposure

One of the more fascinating aspects of a great PR program is the visibility it generates beyond earned media. People usually think of media pitching and press releases when they think about public relations. But sharing thoughts and insights from company executives in a public setting is a great complement to media exposure – and one often leads to the other. 

Our team accomplishes this targeted exposure through executive content and the all-important conference speaking opportunities. Having a company leader or subject-matter expert speak on a stage is a strong way to drive visibility; there’s really nothing like it, and once started, the speaking gigs generate their own momentum. Keynote and panel opportunities nearly always set speakers up for more opportunities in the future. 

In narrow tech verticals like ad tech, conference exposure is particularly important for business leaders. Here are some of the top conferences in the adtech space that can bring exposure to senior executives and help drive their brand visibility.

AdExchanger Industry Preview

With so many thought leadership pieces written about what’s in store for any given industry at the start of the year, it makes sense that there’s a conference dedicated to what’s coming in ad tech. It’s where top execs and journalists come together to preview what the year may hold for the category. Between cookies going away; the sector’s identity crisis; new privacy regulations; the rise of connected TV (CTV) and more, there’s plenty to discuss and lots of predictions to be made. Previous speakers have included executives from Integral Ad Science and DoubleVerify, so it’s tailor-made for people in the ad tech space. Put this one on your calendar for 2023!

AdExchanger Programmatic I/O

AdExchanger runs multiple conferences throughout the year that are geared directly at ad tech executive, and this one is focused solely on the programmatic side of ad tech. As with its Industry Preview, Programmatic I/O brings together people across the industry for updates on pressing issues such as the upcoming “cookiepocalypse,” privacy, CTV trends, and more. This year’s agenda includes speakers from Procter & Gamble, Paramount, Disney, TikTok, and many more power brands that are major players in the space and command our attention. 

Digiday Programmatic Marketing Summit

In a similar vein, Digiday hosts a conference focusing on programmatic advertising. This year it will home in on – what else? –  the demise of the third-party cookie and the intriguing proposals that have been floated to replace its function. Companies like Bayer, HP, J.P. Morgan and more will be on hand to share valuable insights as to what’s coming next in the space, and what brands should focus on to keep their edge. 

IAB NewFronts/PlayFronts

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s NewFronts is the “world’s largest digital content marketplace that gives media buyers a first look at the latest digital content from the biggest names in media and entertainment.” Just wrapping up last Thursday, the conference is a must-see. This year’s theme was “Stream On,” all about how consumers use the many different streaming services available, how companies can take advantage, and what they have in store for the future. Representatives from Google, NBCUniversal, Meta, MGM, Comcast and more were on hand to tackle pressing issues facing the industry right now. It can be up-to-the-minute, with discussions of Netflix’s introduction of ads in its content, Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, brand safety, the state of CTV, and more.

Similarly, IAB also hosted its first-ever PlayFronts, which is dedicated to the rising trend of in-game advertising. As in-game marketing becomes more mainstream, it’s important for brands to know the ins and outs and how to have an optimal strategy. 

Advertising Week

As everyone in ad tech or any kind of advertising knows, Advertising Week hosts multiple major events across the globe, in New York, Europe, Asia, APAC, and Latin America. Each event features six stages, 300+ speakers and 100+ sessions, guaranteeing that any attendee will soak up plenty of information about news, trends and best practices. Almost all the major tech companies (Google, Facebook and Amazon) have attended, and previous speakers have included Al Gore, Ariana Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, Venus Williams, Emma Stone. There will no doubt be plenty of big names there, both in and out of the advertising world. 

ANA Brand Masters

Presented by Twitter, the Association of National Advertisers’ annual conference focuses on topics such as brand management, purpose, brand activation and more. Speakers have included executives from Integral Ad Science, Walmart, Target, Intel, Aneheuser-Busch, and Ford.


Almost anyone who operates in the broader technology industry will flock to the many different TECHSPO events hosted around the world each year. It brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and more, looking to set the pace in the advanced world of technology, which of course includes ad tech. Plus, TECHSPO conveniently provides a list of the top 10 reasons to attend one of their events. Check it out!


While not specifically an ad tech conference, the famed Cannes Lions Festival is still the biggest gathering of the creative community in the world, and probably the most influential. Its cachet is such that most major ad tech brands want to be represented, if only to rub shoulders with top-level creatives, tech entrepreneurs, innovators, and celebrities. The famed Festival highlights outstanding content across all platforms and especially after two years of lockdown, it’s a place to see and be seen. Despite some belt-tightening in Silicon Valley, there will be plenty of Instagram posts of ad tech leaders sipping rosé on party yachts – clearly working hard.


As one of the largest tech events in the world, CES has long been a must-attend for anyone in consumer or business technology. In recent years, that has included ad tech. Hundreds of companies attend and present their new products, most of which aren’t yet available except in preview form. It’s definitely a longshot for ad tech companies, but if one wants to know about the newest developments in tech and what will drive fourth-quarter trends, look no further.


On the other side of the pond, DMEXCO is Europe’s premier digital marketing and tech event. Even as the pandemic forced it to go virtual the past two years, last year’s event had over 20,000 attendees and 240 partners. There are plenty of ways to speak at the conference now that it will presumably be in-person this year. From main stages for the keynote speakers, smaller “topic stages” for industry experts, or corporate masterclass learning sessions, DMEXCO offers a multitude of thought leadership opportunities.

These are just some of many different industry conferences that PR agencies can recommend for internal or external clients. Many conferences are hybrid or completely virtual, so it’s easier than in the past to participate without having to travel. And participants can learn valuable lessons and information that can transform their business and possibly the industry.

Top B2B Conferences For PR Visibility

For our high-growth B2B tech and SaaS solution provider clients, conference speaking, exhibiting, and sponsoring represent crucial PR tactics for thought leadership visibility and business development. Conferences are a good way to set yourself apart in a sector of similarly positioned companies in a given category.

Early-stage companies in particular can build awareness for a new category by having executives speak on panels and keynotes at relevant conferences. They can also build credibility and visibility for their brands by taking a booth. There’s just no doubt about the benefits of the exposure that can be generated by speaking opportunities at major business conferences. The earned visibility can drive brand differentiation, help recruitment, reinforce a leadership positioning, and even influence buyer decisions. See our post on How Speaking Opportunities Support B2B Companies for insights on how much we and our clients value speaking opportunities.

One of my duties as manager of Conferences, Awards, and Employer Branding is to provide guidance on which of the numerous B2B industry conferences are most relevant and worthwhile for a client’s particular PR needs. Here are six key B2B conferences companies should have on their radar for potential attendance, exhibition, or speaking.

B2B Sales & Marketing Exchange (August, Boston)

B2B media outlet Demand Gen Report produces this and the winter B2B Marketing Exchange events annually. Sponsors are a who’s who of big B2B tech brands. Session content revolves around demand-gen, ABM, sales enablement, content strategy, and more. “Representing some of the largest and fastest-growing solution providers in account-based marketing and demand generation, B2BSMX provides attendees the opportunity to meet with experts to tackle challenges such as how to optimize revenue operations and fine tune their go-to-market strategies to adjust to new realities.”

HubSpot INBOUND  (September, Boston/Hybrid)

This is HubSpot’s annual event that unites thought leaders from over 161 countries across marketing, sales, customer success, revenue operations, and more. It’s a marquee event with over 20,000 attendees, and it offers earned speaking opportunities for prominent B2B executive thought leaders. Be ready to submit early since the call for speakers takes place in late winter of the calendar year before each conference.

Salesforce Dreamforce  (Autumn, San Francisco)

Everyone knows Dreamforce, of course. This is Salesforce’s annual mega event that brings together the global Salesforce community for learning, fun, community building, and philanthropy. It’s the largest B2B tech conference in the U.S. Previous years have hosted more than 170,000 registered attendees from all over the world, across every industry and every line of business. It hosts thought leaders, industry pioneers, and notable luminaries who share their perspectives and expertise.

Forrester B2B Summit North America (May, Austin/Hybrid)

Formerly the SiriusDecisions Summit, now produced by the eminent industry analyst Forrester Research, this premier event for B2B marketing, sales and product leaders sets out to empower their strategies, fuel the revenue engine and drive the business forward. “Explore ground-breaking research, models, and frameworks, designed with your organization’s priorities in mind. Insightful breakouts, hands-on case studies, lasting peer connections, and inspiring keynotes all contribute to preparing you with the actionable advice you need to increase your impact, foster measurable results and surpass goals.”

MarTech Conference (March & September, Virtual)

Third Door Media’s biannual MarTech Conferences used to be in-person on the East and West Coasts. Now a free-to-attend, fully-online experience, MarTech “attracts forward-thinking, senior-level marketers obsessed with driving business transformation and retooling their organizations with marketing technology, and connects them with innovative technology companies sharing their new tools, applications, techniques, strategies and solutions.” For companies that could be described as “vendors,” your innovative tech may not be enough. To win an earned speaking gig, a solutions provider will typically need to co-present with a big brand client.

Content Marketing World & Expo (September, Cleveland)

B2B companies focused on brand and content marketing should have this Content Marketing Institute event on their radar. It attracts 3000 attendees, over 200 speakers, and over 500 brands annually. Brand strategists, CMOs, content marketing coordinators, SEO analysts, and social media managers from big brands like Walmart, Volvo, and Nestle attend to form new partnerships and expand their professional circles.



PR Tips For Getting Speaking Engagements


In the technology PR sector, it’s our dream to have a client CEO deliver the keynote speech at a major conference, or to appear on a panel with illustrious peers. Executive speaking opportunities offer great visibility, built-in media coverage, and contact with prospective customers. As a bonus, speeches from conferences can also be recycled as bylined articles or video snippets suitable for social sharing.

But how does a young company generate such opportunities? Submitting a potential spokesperson for speaking engagements can be a full-time job. It can also be very competitive, with some exceptions. For female founders of successful technology businesses, there’s likely to be greater opportunity for plum speaking engagements, simply because they are so rare. But for more typical candidates, the submission process can be lengthy, labor-intensive, and overwhelming.

How to get speaking engagements at conferences

Look at last year’s conference program

Start by building a calendar of targeted conferences. The best way to gauge a conference’s relevance is by studying the past year’s program online. Past programs offer a wealth of intel, including the format and tone of the session abstracts, quality of speakers, and themes. These will be useful for creating a speaker proposal of your own. Some conferences like the Digiday and Digital Summit series offer guidance on submitting proposals.

Who goes to this conference?

Research conference attendee demographics, usually found on the website or program under the sponsorship, FAQ, or the “why attend?” tabs. What are the job functions and seniority level of the attendees? What size companies do they represent? Who sponsors the event? Peg your prospective speakers to their most important audiences; a CEO should be speaking to an audience with at least some C-level executives. If 70% of the attendees are from SMBs and startups, then it may not make sense for your enterprise-level executive to participate.

Pay-to-play or earned speaking engagement?

To avoid wasting time it’s good to know whether the speakers are generally from sponsors, vendors, agencies, or brands. If the speakers are mostly repping sponsors, the event leans toward a pay-to-play model. If you are a PR pro for a B2B vendor, make sure the conference welcomes such speakers without sponsorship. Most clients are interested in earned opportunities, because they don’t need us to secure paid ones.

Don’t wait to submit

Get in early. To find out when speaker submissions open, you often need to get on the conference’s email list. But don’t wait for that date. Ask smart questions to the coordinator even before submissions open. Submissions often ask for extensive company financial and biographical information, which will take time to be compiled and polished.

Know the coordinators

When submitting your speaker, do not try to sell or promote a product or brand. Instead, think of it as a collaboration with the coordinator to help them build outstanding conference content. Cultivate ongoing relationships with conference coordinators in the same way you would journalists and industry analysts. They’re every bit as valuable. Stay in touch, ask questions, and even take them out for coffee if local.

Bring a panel or a partner

A PR team can improve the chances of acceptance by proposing an entire panel discussion — if your company has the ability to assemble a top-quality group. Many conferences will shy away from accepting speakers from vendors and steer you in the sponsorship direction. If so, why not pitch a joint session involving a vendor and one of its client brands about how they worked together using an original approach to achieve a great outcome?

Have a point of view

As is true of the most compelling thought leadership content, speaker/talk proposals have to dazzle in order to be noticed. The best way to stand out is to have a novel point of view relevant to the conference program. Don’t be afraid of taking a controversial stand on a hot industry topic. Alternatively, you can outline a pressing industry problem and offer tangible solutions or fresh thinking that attendees will be eager to take back to their companies.

Set your sights high — but not too high.

Your client may have his heart set on a top-level meeting where he can rub elbows with enterprise-level CEOs or celebrity entrepreneurs. But most candidates need to pay their dues before being called up to the bigs. There are countless tech conferences that match every industry, business stage, size, and niche. And no matter how naturally dynamic your speaker may be, he or she can gain necessary experience before mingling at Davos or keynoting a Dreamforce conference. As the executive’s profile grows, you will find him being accepted — and even invited — to speak at more prominent events.

Conferences & Symposia: Potential PR Goldmine

With a little work and ingenuity, professional conferences can provide a wealth of PR opportunity for a company leader. Speaking at conferences enhances reputation and visibility and positions an executive as an industry and thought leader. Speaking engagements can be used to build brand and product awareness in a specific context, highlight knowledge and expertise, and help build demand for the speaker at other events. Ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work proposing your company spokespeople? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Speaking engagements are giant networking opportunities. Not only will the speaker be afforded the chance to rub shoulders with other speakers and VIP attendees, journalists are often present (industry and local) and this setting provides natural access and the ability to build relationships. If the organization isn’t courting media, invite them yourself. Don’t forget to pitch your speaker to relevant local press.

Conference appearances beget more conference appearances. The more your spokesperson speaks, the greater the reputation as a thought leader, the more industry organizers will seek him out for other gigs. Also the more you merchandise the appearance through white papers, social media, press releases, slideshare etc., the more journalists and others will seek out your executives as a resource.

Conferences offer many ancillary activities. When your company leader is scheduled to speak, encourage him or her to take advantage of every opportunity that’s tied to the conference, such as pre-event activities, photo-ops, and on and off-site social events to network.

Collaborate for the best result. Your speaker knows the product/industry, but you have the cutting-edge communications skills. Assist in preparing the most compelling presentation possible to increase the likelihood of being invited to speak the following year. Encourage use of the most current best practices for PowerPoint presentations, infographics, video, etc. Provide speaker training if necessary.

Always be thinking of the next opportunity. Top conference speaking and panel slots fill up quickly. Keep a regularly updated list of opportunities with cal reminders to keep you on top of the schedule. Use byline articles, interviews, industry monitoring and other sources to help you develop fresh speaking topics.

And, remember to stay in touch with an organizer even if you’ve been turned down for an appearance. We recently contacted a conference with a panel scheduled within the week to propose a speaker “just in case of a cancellation.” The organizer contacted us right away with an open slot and, voila, a speaking opportunity was seized.



Tricks Of Trade Show PR and Networking

Trade shows and conferences represent an opportunity to reconnect with friends and associates in the industry; make new contacts; and be inspired by influential speeches and personalities. But, too often we view attendance as a group effort, or even a chore, sticking with the team we came with or those we know.

Whether it’s a new product show, a blogger conference or a huge happening like SXSW, here are some tips to maximize the networking opportunity so you can get a return on your time investment in the form of insight and contacts.

Have a plan. Study the floor plan in advance and plot your path to make sure you visit the most relevant booths and panels. Most exhibit directories exist online and many have a calendar plugin so you can manage visits with location in mind and avoid walking back and forth all day. Cluster meetings in the same general area for convenience, if possible, and give priority to those exhibitors whose businesses are most likely to advance your own.

Take names. Don’t be shy about asking for cards or using apps like to download contacts. Use every opportunity to make a connection, whether it’s a journalist or blogger; potential business partner; or even a prospective employee. Limit your visits to 10-minute increments, but don’t leave without making a date to continue the conversation if  it’s warranted.

Document and share. Take smartphone shots of unique displays, note the best speeches, and share them on your social media feeds. It’s a great way of connecting with colleagues who might not realize you’re there!

Dress well. The trick to trade shows is to appear professional but be comfortable. A jacket or structured sweater is always good for a professional look, and for day-to-evening temperature changes, but you’ll be thankful that you wore smart flats!

Follow up. A quick note, a phone date, Facebook connection… just be sure to choose one and not all at once.  Be diligent to let no one go un-contacted after the event;  this is often the time when the “real deals” are sealed.

Got any trade (show) secrets you’d like to share?