I arrived in Vienna on Monday 1 November, a national Austrian holiday of All Saints day, with the weather a balmy 18 degrees Celsius and a wonderful welcome to Vienna Marriott hotel, the tone was set for another fabulous ICMA conference. I spent the day visiting the social venues we had lined up as well as making a mega purchase of the Austrian Manner Bars as special thank you for the speakers and the evening was enjoyed catching up with the early arrivals!

The ICMA Office was set up thanks to the help of Gabriela Martin from El Clasificado, USA and Loredana Ghejan from Inform Media, Romania who rightfully deserve a huge THANK YOU from myself and all ICMA members alike in wearing many hats at the Vienna Conference: attendee, ICMA onsite staff, Rising Star Sub Committee Members, SBP Chairs and presenters (yes all in the matter of 3 ½ days!) Their efficiently was much appreciate as we had the folders collated, badges prepared, presentations photo-copied, last-minute registrations and also any changes handled in time to meet the ICMA Board of Directors for dinner enjoying a traditional Austrian meal at Plachutta (boiled bone marrow included)!


Wednesday welcomed 140 ICMA delegates from 32 different countries to Vienna. Josef Kogler, CEO of Inform Media, Hungary and Romania and Chairperson of ICMA gave his first welcome as ICMA chairperson introducing our eight new members, first time attendees and thanking the exhibitors and sponsors for their attendance (ISV, Sensi Soft, Fiare Oy, Freespee, Idomoo, Adicio, Camao, Bluerank, SiteBlackBox, Besedo, Artirix, ForNova, AdConversion and ArtSoft). And the attendees were welcomed by a special treat from local member Bazar upon retiring for the evening – thank you!


Josef Kogler formally opened the conference sessions, recognizing the exceptional dedication and determination of the ICMA Board of Directors in successfully re-shaping the association this past year as well as Rising Stars Sub Committee’s contribution the last 3 months and going forward.

Rob Paterson, MD, Friday-Ad, UK opened the ICMA “Next Generation Classifieds” conference introducing the Keynote speaker Gerd Leonhard CEO of TheFuturesAgency, Switzerland. Gerd’s presentation was titled “What’s Next in Classifieds” hitting on the impact of social media – it’s fan before consumer, therefore engaging the customer is crucial. Social commerence is the future of selling and customers want to play a more active role and be involved. Neal Polecheck, President BIA/Kelsey took on “Marketplaces” highlighting 6 success factors in classified media: content, community, targeted geography, promotions and valuable extensions, and once again how social media re-defining how we sell classifieds.

After the coffee-break, we continued on the social media track with Duncan Dunlop, GM of Oodle, UK spoke on being “Facebook Friendly,” stating “Facebook is Word of Mouth on steroids” calling it Facebook the country with its online “population” only trailing behind China and India. Clemens Henle, COO of, Germany stepped in for Sang-Wo Pai, CEO of who was unable to attend due to a last minute change (Thanks again Clemens!) Clemens discussed the success of’s social media platform highlighting that social media links are being recognized by Google and may work well for SEO purposes as well as giving many valuable do’s and don’ts when establishing your social media presence. An excellent session, in which the panelists giving their honest thoughts about the state of their respective industries – directories, newspapers and classifieds.


The “Sharing Best Practice” sessions, were once again the top rated of the conference and only continue to grow! In the Business Leaders session we had a total of 63 participants – thanks very much to the ICMA Board of Directors and Members – Rob, Josef, Pekka, Koen, Martha, Loren, Felix, Gerald and Cathy for facilitating each group’s discussions. The overall score of nearly 94% satisfaction demonstrates how valuable participants continue to find this session. We plan to continue the SBP sessions with new and improved metrics for the Nice/Cannes ICMA conference. Pease send any suggestions to

The sales managers dove into a series of sales-oriented metrics with their respective groups adding for the first time the visual element to walk through each other’s respective websites – thanks to chairs Gaby and Loredana for ensuring the true value of this session for all attendees!

The ICT SBP session was a small but mighty group who has pledged to make the ICT session a bit less technical to help grow this session for future conferences.

The evening had us boarding the buses and we made our way to the Viennese Heurigen Mayer am Pfarrplatz for a wonderful evening in which the weather once again played to our favour in offering the perfect outdoor atmosphere for the special welcome drink of Strum only available in the fall months of the year and roasted chestnuts! Here we had we enjoyed a typical Austrian dinner with a traditional Austrian Heuriger musician entertaining table to table.


Peter Zollman, Founding Principle,, USA kicked off the Friday morning with “Today’s Classifieds: The new state of the art” providing 10 very relevant global case studies on mobile, coupons, and innovators in the classifieds. The take-away Peter presented is to “always focus on what advertisers need: results.” Mike Blinder, President, The Blinder Group, USA took to the stage with his electric energy and enthusiasm informing the delegates of success of newspapers selling online advertising. The ICMA Rising Stars Sub Committee, chaired by Martha de la Torre, CEO, El Clasificado, USA, Loredana Ghejan, Sales Manager, Inform Media, Romania, Gabriela Martin del Campo, Director of Strategic Operations, El Clasificado, USA, Jodie Oliver, Automated Sales Manger, Friday-Ad, UK, Prem Prakash, GM & Head-Business Development, Freeads, Getit Info Services P Ltd., India, and Andy Serdons, Content and Traffic Manager, Concentra Classifieds, Belgium set the stage as the next generation of leaders and kicked off their session with a informative and fun video that was shot and edited the day before! The RSSC informed the delegation of the newest ICMA offering which is open for all member companies to nominate 2 Rising Stars as well as their take on the future of classifieds.

The second session had Hannu Kytölä, CEO, Viento Ltd., Finland discussing his newest success of – the leader in the market share in Finland and had the delegates thinking of new angles they could apply to their businesses. Next up was Harald Leitenmüller, CTO, Microsoft, Austria who stressed the wave of the future is in the cloud. Kelvin Newman, Creative Director, SiteVisiblity, UK took on the final session of the day discussing SEO and “Why the 5 big changes at Google are great news for classified sites – and how you can take advantage of them.” One of the top rated topics of the conference, you will be pleased to know we have already confirmed Kelvin to join us in Nice/Cannes!


The afternoon was taken up with three rotating round-table workshops on Maximizing Print Profits, AdSense Optimization and Social Media of which delegates could attend two of the three.

Helmar Hipp, Managing Director, VM Group, Austria lead the Maximizing Print Profits workshop which was one of the highest rated sessions of the conference and thus confirming that print is not dead! Christopher Krischnig and Hannes Fehr, AdSense Consultants for AdConversion, Germany spearheaded the Google AdSense workshop where the primary focus was how best optimize AdSense on classified websites. The third workshop was led by Tish Hill, General Manager, who covered Social Media and the lessons they have learned.

Friday night was left free for delegates to make their own plans, in which I heard some headed out for a full evening – hitting 5 clubs and returning as the sun came up… the ICMA tradition continues!


The final day of the ICMA “Next Generation” conference had everyone up early (even those who just returned a few hours earlier) eager to hear Gerald Coniel, CEO, JunkMail Classifieds, South Africa inspiring story and stunning photos from the Tour D’Afrique he competed in at the beginning of the year. A true inspiration of a person who has passion in all he takes on, knows no boundaries and lives life to the fullest, while helping others in need no less. We look forward to buying a signed copy of the book at the next conference!


Josef Kogler chaired the Business Meeting which discussed the 2011 budget and re-vamped bylaws which passed unanimously. The new fee structure and the continued growth of ICMA with 26 new members in the last year – bringing us to 58 current members has proven beneficial in re-viving ICMA. Going forward there will be a Nomination Committee to help ensure a strong and active Board of Directors which is vital to ICMA’s continued success. In this spirit, Rob Hage, CEO, Farm Country Trader, USA was asked and agreed to join the committee for Ciler Yildez who stepped down in May when moving onto other endeavors. We are pleased to welcome Rob onboard! 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.

Business Leaders’ Forum (BLF)

The BLF was chaired by Loren Dalton, President,, USA. He came well prepared bringing a few fun incentive prizes – outfitting the BLF attendees with some World Series Championship hats! Loren and a few other business leaders’ forum participants kicked off the morning by reviewing the “wins” gained from prior ICMA conferences before delving into the key learning points from the past two days. The later part of the day the discussion was focused on the obstacles and challenges the classifieds industry is currently facing, with the final session exchanging ideas and opportunities to prepare for the next generation of classifieds.

Tish Hill, General Manager,, Canada was nominated as chair for the ICMA Business Leaders’ Forum for the ICMA “Classifieds recipes for success” Nice/Cannes Conference, and accepted the nomination.

Business Operations Forum (BOF)

The BOF was chaired by Eero Korhonen, Managing Director of Vaibmu, Finland which took on a true challenge of designing, building, marketing and launching a working classified site in 5 hours! Which created a true buzz throughout the rest of the sessions – and even had some of the BL’ers checking in on what was going on! The idea behind this exercise was for the attendees to learn how to work with a diverse group, with limited resources and gain some insightful take-aways. The final session entailed each group presenting their classified site in which group 3 whose pet site came out with top honors! Congratulations!

The SSW chaired by Mike Blinder, President, The Blinder Group, USA kept the attendees captivated with his passion and enthusiasm for Sales. Mike took the attendees through effective accountability systems and mentoring and coaching for excellence in the first session. Session II discussed in depth how to train the team on the basics providing by providing better methods of prospecting, helping them “cold call” for better results and giving them 10 proven ways to develop a better relationship with your advertisers. The last session of the day kept the delegates attention in covering how to best manage your time to make more money! An excellent session with the delegates benefiting from the solid ideas they could implement upon return to the office.


The Gala Party was held at the elegant Palais Daun-Kinsky, which upon entrance had us feeling like royalty with the breath-taking ceiling fresco above the stairway. As we sat down for dinner, Josef offered us brief history informing us the Palais dated back to 1713, and so aptly mentioned “if these walls could talk.” ICMA added to the history in the Austrian spirit of enjoying the welcome drinks in one room, moving to the stunning Ovaler Festsaal for dinner and dancing in yet another elegant room in which I am happy report no-one tried swinging from the chandelier… you just never know with our group!

Thank you to the outstanding speakers, facilitators and chairpersons for ensuring another excellent ICMA conference. As well, thank you to the exhibitors and sponsors and the ICMA Board of Directors for all of their support. A special thank you to Jennifer Abshire, ICMA Events Assistant for helping with the preparations leading up to the conference – which wouldn’t have been achieved without her. 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: Recipes for Success” conference in Nice, France 27-30 April 2011.