Industry flirts with making the Possible conference a must-attend tentpole event

If you work in the marketing or media industry, “#POSSIBLE2024” almost inevitably populated your social media feed on LinkedIn or X, during the past week.

The accompanying images of your professional peers, or vaguely familiar faces at least, resemble a dress rehearsal for the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity–the bougie-zenith of the ad industry’s annual calendar, which takes place in June each year.

However, what exactly drew thousands of the ad industry’s finest to Miami’s Fontainebleau, where they got to rub shoulders with their professional peers plus stars such as Ashanti, Janelle Monae, and Pitbull?

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Birthed by marketing and ad tech luminaries, Possible is now in its second year — Digiday first broke news of the event — and its backers are seeking to establish a new tentpole event in the media industry calendar.

However, is there enough bandwidth, indeed marketing and hospitality budget, to go around in an industry that is already in flux, given growing concerns over the media industry’s use of personal data, not to mention the rise of AI?

Digiday spoke with several sources involved in separate tiers of the industry, all of whom have experience with its established tentpole events, and requested anonymity in exchange for candor.

Another event, really?

“You have to ask, ‘Is there really a need for another event?'” quipped one source with extensive experience of experiential activations at trade shows.

“You have CES, Cannes, and then a lot of others,” added the source, noting how ad tech execs often use the Consumer Electronics Show as a curtain-raiser for the year and have similarly taken over the latter. “However, it [Possible] is picking up traction over the last two years.”

For some, the secret (or inevitability) to Possible’s success is its backers, a list of names that includes some of the industry’s, including influential LUMA Partners’ Terence Kawaja and arguably the ad industry’s biggest power broker, Michael Kassan.

Sources note that such large-scale events — this year’s attendance was 3,600, up from 2,400 in 2023, according to inside sources — usually involve a significant cost barrier to entry, with $50,000 a minimum spend for brands to have a significant brand profile.

Digiday was unable to source an official rate card for sponsorship packages at this year’s Possible conference, albeit sources claimed some of the smaller activations came with price tags of up to $85,000.

‘Already a tentpole event’

Digiday was able to confirm that discounted packages were on offer for companies that participated in a funding round for Beyond Ordinary Events, the organizer of Possible, that took place earlier this year, and that certain outfits have also signed up to multi-year packages.

Christian Muche, CEO of Beyond Ordinary Events and one of the architects of Dmexco, arguably the international trade show for ad tech, said the event saw a significant year-on-year increase in terms of attendees, along with a double-digit increase in revenue, though he did not provide exact figures.

He claimed that approximately 30% of Possible’s attendees were advertisers and that the event, while hosted in Miami, was already an international affair.

“I already see Possible as a tentpole event, at least in the U.S., and our ambition is to make it an international one,” he told Digiday, adding that in the short term, this will bring international audiences to Miami, noting Baidu’s participation at this year’s event.

This may amount to taking Possible to countries outside the Americas, he said, but nothing specific has materialized beyond Possible’s 2025 installment.

Where will the budget come from?

All sources approached by Digiday noted how Possible has been well received in its opening two years, with most asserting their intention to return in any future installments. However, given the austere times the industry is experiencing, just where will the money come from, especially when there are more established events such as CES, et cetera?

Many noted that given Possible’s backers — see here for a veritable “Who’s Who” of media powerbrokers — Beyond Ordinary Events’ offering is likely to be a contender when it comes to budget.

“The event is more like IAB’s ALM in that I was able to get a lot of my meetings done all in one place and didn’t have to spend half my time waiting on a cab,” said one senior exec who attended both the 2023 and 2024 installments. “I’m definitely scratching CES from my calendar next year.”

A second source also noted that if push comes to shove, CES may fall from their list of marketing priorities if Possible is to become a permanent fixture on the calendar. “When it came to it, my team’s footprint and Advertising Week definitely suffered for it,” they added.

Editor’s Note: Digiday was the exclusive media partner of Possible 2024.

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