Nice Conference Report


Jennifer and I arrived to the Radisson Blu Nice on Easter Monday 26 April, with Amsterdam an unseasonably warm 26 degrees Celsius (we later learned it was the warmest place in Europe over Easter weekend) to the Southof France at surprisingly cooler 20 degrees Celsius. Our biggest weather worry being the Wednesday walking tour – which was a success despite a light sprinkle.

The ICMA Office was set up on Tuesday with the delegate folders being collated, badges prepared, last-minute registrations processed, speaker gifts were purchased, as well as the social venue visits of Le Balcon and Negresco squeezed in this afternoon. Needless to say, we were famished and thoroughly enjoyed the ICMA Board Member dinner (company and food!) at Luc Salsedo Tuesday evening.

Nice Conference

Wednesday the early arrivals enjoyed a wonderful walking tour of old town Nice with a lovely open aired train ride taking them down the promenade de Anglais and a special treat of very unusual ice cream tasting at the end.

The evenings welcome reception was moved from the roof top terrace, due to the light sprinkle moving into a heavy downpour making it a bit too treacherous. Josef Kogler, CEO of Inform Media, Hungary and Romania and Chairman of ICMA welcomed 150 ICMA delegates from 30 different countries to Nice, France, introducing six new members, first time attendees and thanking the exhibitors and sponsors for their attendance (Bluerank, Camao, Fiare Oy, ISV, Sensisoft, Adicio, Artirix, Artsoft Consult, Besedo, Freespee AB, Gumyio, Joshua, Liquidus, Matchwork, Ubiflow).

Nice conference

Josef Kogler formally opened the conference sessions, highlighting Leboncoin’s stronghold after 5 years in the French marketplace with an estimated EUR 50 million in revenues, profit margin approximately 50% all achieved by keeping their products smart and simple.

Eric Reiss, Partner/ Content Strategist, FatDUX Group, Copenhagen, Denmark kicked off the ICMA “Classifieds: Recipes for Success” conference with his presentation entitled “From Content to Money (and all the good stuff in-between)”. Eric provided a rundown of 10 things customers will tell you: “1. Don’t tell me how great you are. BE great! 2. Go the extra mile. 3. Don’t get in my way when I’m trying to shop… 6. Tell me if you’re going off to look for my size. Don’t just turn and leave” to highlight a few. The biggest take-away from his session being “content is king, but context is the kingdom.”

Rob Hage, CEO, Farm Country Trader, USA and the first ever ICMA Classified Media Innovation Award winner kicked off this session reflecting on their AutoConx systems that won top billing in 2010. He then welcomed six of the top 8 short-listed Innovation Award winners who presented their respective innovations, JunkMail Publishing, Kalyado, Concept Mulitmedia (nominated for two submissions), Concentra Classifieds and Friday- Ad, providing the delegates with much food for thought as we headed into the break. Side note: presented their innovation in the second half of the morning and Delovoy Mir online was unable to attend.

After the coffee-break, we moved onto one of the top rated sessions of the conference with the topic “Making Money from Free” where Konstantin Kalabin, Consultant, Top Internet Projects Ltd., UK hit on “demonstrating the value and charge only for those things that have obvious costs to you and the user” to tap into additional revenue sources. Burak Ertas, CEO,, Turkey shared their innovation “Güncelim” in this session an idea that generated EUR 400,000 in 2010, by offering users the option to reset the date their ad posted. This simple solution allows the user the option to bring their ad back to the top of the search results and listings (as search results by default are sorted by date posted), for an additional fee. An impressively implemented innovation that had the delegates buzzing for the rest of the conference!

The last session of the morning was lead by Mikal Rhode, EVP & Co-Founder of cXense AS, Norway who continued on one of the four recipes of success “money” with his session on “Monetization Models.” He spoke on generating revenues by understanding the user intent while targeting ads and listings, offering more value and an opportunity to sell these ads at higher rates.


The “Sharing Best Practice” sessions, were once again the top rated of the conference. The overall score of nearly 97% satisfaction demonstrates how valuable participants continue to find this session. We plan to continue the SBP sessions with new and improved metrics for the ICMA Dublin conference. We welcome your suggestions – please send to A special thank you to the ICMA Board of Directors, Rob Paterson, Josef Kogler, Pekka Ketonen, Koen Vandaele, Martha de la Torre, Sidharth Gupta and Rob Hage for facilitating their respective group’s discussions.

The sales managers dove into a series of sales-oriented metrics with their respective groups adding making good use of the laptops to walk through each other’s respective websites – many thanks to chairpersons Gabriela Martin, Rickard Petersson and Benny Kerkhofs for ensuring the true value of this session for all attendees.

The ICT SBP session was given a 94% overall rating thus a huge thank you to Gerhard Köhle and Ricardo Amaro for putting together the metrics to ensure a solid session and another shout out to Gerhard for chairing this session.

The evening had us boarding the buses and we made our way to the Le Grand Balcon in Old Town Nice for a delightful evening which had us juggling bus departures to ensure those who wanted to spend a bit longer in Old Town were accommodated thanks to the help of the Rising Star Sub-Committee members.

Nice conference

Denzil Rankine, CEO, AMR International, UK kicked off the Friday morning session giving an overview of what “The Media Company of the Future” will look like stating “successful media companies will continue to develop a new approach to processes and markets.” To be a media company of the future a few things are imperative: 1. closer to customers and 2. fully exploit technology and 3. master complexity.

“Like” or “dislike” Facebook continues to gain momentum in users and in advertising, and especially for media companies. What does this mean for classifieds? Jan Rezab, Co-Founder, Candytech, Czech Republic provided us with the inside track. The key take-aways being: 1. Facebook pages are a powerful channel, invest in a good one, 2. build FB applications around the FB page and business website, 3. integrate FB and business website(s) correctly with social plugins and 4. be sure to follow basic rules & best practices!

Rob Pierre, Managing Director, Jellyfish, UK discussed “Paid Search Best Practice” covering the benefits to be gained by the classified ad industry including a gain in market share and generating advertisers.

The second half of the morning sessions focused on the “technology” recipe for success, jumping right into mobile. Wim Houben, CEO, eXuvis, Belgium lead the “What’s new in mobile” session. Wim mentioned not to expect mobile success overnight as it is a process of trial and error. Gavin Burnett, CEO, Gumiyo International, Australia then took the stage to talk about developing a mobile strategy stating a few of the benefits: 1. can be implemented fairly quickly (weeks not months) 2. easily maintained and 3. supports the existing consumer behavior to name but a few.

To wrap up before lunch Dan Lee, CEO, Artirix, UK provided an insight on “Business SaaS.” Dan shared a few best practice tips when looking into SaaS such as finding a flexible supplier to ensure control over the critical parts of the solution, negotiate the right SLA and ensure the product time understands how to work with the SaaS supplier.


The afternoon was taken up with three rotating round-table workshops: Using Google Analytics for Profit, Curing your SEO Woes and The New “IT” Factor in Classifieds, of which delegates could attend two of the three.

Nikki Rae, Managing Director, Future Insight Analytics, UK lead the Google Analytics workshop covering User Experience Design techniques which informed attendees how to fix problems and give users a great experience. Kelvin Newman, Creative Director, SiteVisibility, UK spearheaded the SEO workshop sharing the most common SEO mistakes made by classified sites and how to quickly and easily solve them. The third workshop was led by Koen Vandaele, Operations Director and Benny Kerkhofs, Sales Manager both from Concentra Classifieds in Belgium leading the Coupon workshop discussing their innovation in more detail “Jouw Voordeel” and the success they have reaped thus far. Congratulations are in order to Koen and Benny for being on the top rated sessions of the entire conference!


As the afternoon sessions came to a close everyone was off to quickly freshen up in time to board the buses bringing us to the stunning Negreso hotel, for the ICMA Innovation Awards Gala Party, (which we decided to give it a go for Friday night listening to the requests from past conference evaluations– allowing for a record setting attendance!) This coupled with the impressive venue, allotted for a perfect setting to present the 2011 ICMA Classified Media Innovation Awards. To kick off the evening incoming chairperson Martha de la Torre took a few moments to recognize outgoing chairman Josef Kogler for his contributions this past year.

After a delicious entrée and main course the ICMA Board made their way to the stage where Rob Hage, Publisher, Farm Country Trader and winner of the 2010 ICMA Classified Media Award presented the 2011 award winners. Congratulations are in order to Kaylado for taking home the overall award of the ““Best Classified Media Innovation” award, Friday Ad was awarded the “Quick Implementation” award, Delovoy Mir Online took home the “Show Me the Money” award and SPIR was awarded the “Technology” award.

Once the music started it didn’t take long before the dance floor was overflowing and a few of you (you know who you are!) were bribing the DJ to keep the party going! After a few “last” songs we finally made it to the buses with a fair amount making their way to the nearby clubs returning to the hotel around 5 AM…. it seems they forgot the sessions started at 9.15 am sharp on Saturday morning!  Thus, we have learned that despite the large attendance and great time held by all the Friday night the Gala Party will return to Saturday evening close of the conference in Dublin going forward.

Nice conference

The final day of the ICMA “Classifieds: Recipes for Success” conference came a bit too early for the majority of us who managed to make to the morning session eager to hear Stefan Batory, CEO of Sensi Soft, Poland share his inspiring and very grueling experience of competing in an ultra-marathon, Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) 3 – 8 April 2011, considered the toughest foot race on Earth. This 6-day, 254 km (156 miles) crossed the Sahara desert – in temperatures of 45°C(120°F), uneven rocky ground and sand dunes, with the competitors carrying all their personal belongings and food for the full race in their backpack(s).

Stefan dedicated his run to raise money for a local 7 yr old boy who was in a severe car accident. His parents cannot afford rehabilitation and Stefan is running to raise enough money to cover the rehabilitation so he can walk again. Should you wish to donate money please contact Stefan directly at or use this step by step guide.


Board of Director Elections were held. All current ICMA Board Members, Martha de la Torre, Pekka Ketonen, Sidharth Gupta, Koen Vandaele, Rob Hage were re-elected. Josef Kogler will stay on as outgoing chair for the next six months and Santtu Poutanen from Sanoma, Finland, nominated by the newly implemented nominating committee, was unanimously voted onto the board accepting the position. We are pleased to welcome Santtu onboard! The 2010 audit was discussed and approved. Thank you to those who participated in this meeting and we continue to welcome any feedback and suggestions you have to improve upon the Association, please feel free to contact Shay.


The BLF was chaired by Luticia (Tish) Hill, General Manager,, Canada. She came well prepared for a solid full day session as well as keeping things lively by outfitting the BLF attendees with some goofy glasses! Tish began the morning session discussing local, social and mobile’s effects on the classified industry. After the coffee break the BLF attendees focused on new revenue opportunities given the “mash-up” of industries. The last session of the day provided a solid discussion on where our resources should be invested to ensure success going forward.

Rob Hage was nominated as chair for the Business Leaders’ Forum for the ICMA “Classifieds: Opportunities and Threats” Dublin conference, and accepted the nomination.


Sally Winfield, Consultant, SW Consultancy Ltd, UK, chaired the SMW which covered “Creating a Climate of Innovation.” Discussion was focused on fostering innovation in organizations, particularly difficult when they are struggling to keep their heads above water. With the few of the take aways being, in such times innovation is key. In an increasingly competitive landscape, organisations, like their people, must learn to repeatedly reinvent themselves, and not be cast in stone. A lively session which had the attendees inspired and learning new ideas to implement upon return to the office.


The first two sessions of BOF were chaired by Tarja Soininen, Director Business Development, Sanoma Digital, Finland which covered eMarketing with an interactive question and answer session in the morning. After the coffee break they broke into small groups to work on a case-study which required them to develop and plan to achieve a specific objective taking into consideration the parameters and constraints set forth.

The final BOF session was co-chaired by Wim Houben, CEO & Christophe Van Durme, CTO both of Exuvis, Belgium as well as Guilhem Ensuque, Director of OpenPlug Products in France. This session focused on mobile platforms in 2011, HTML5, application, native application and multiplatform highlighting mobile trends.


Thank you to the outstanding speakers, facilitators and chairpersons for ensuring another unforgettable ICMA conference. As well, thank you to the exhibitors and sponsors and the ICMA Board of Directors for all of their support. And of course all of you who truly make the ICMA the premier Association it is!

We look forward to seeing you all again at the ICMA “Classifieds: Opportunities and Threats” conference in Dublin, Ireland this autumn (dates to be confirmed shortly!).