I have spent the past three days at the ad:tech conference here in New York, engulfed in a world of online marketing. Looking back, what strikes me most is the huge number of people. According to the event's organizers there were 12,000 people in attendance. Even more massive was the hundreds of booths across three floors.

There were a few big names there like Google and Ask.com; DoubleClick and Omniture as well. There were also companies I have never heard of with interesting ideas: advertising auction company SpotXchange or local business search engine Local.com. And there are stranger companies finding their own niche like NeuroFocus that analyzes how advertising affects people's brains, or InPerson that green-screens an infomercial-esque host over your site to help guide users. Many of the companies at ad:tech were startups and small businesses, trying to get their product or service out there and get new clients to help them grow.

The keynote today, by DoubleClick founder Kevin Ryan, talked about how much the internet had changed in the last ten years. One thing he focused on is how inexpensive bandwith, hardward, and software had gotten, "It really makes launching any site so much cheaper." He believes the market is big enough for many niches sites to thrive, "It allows you to do a ping-pong site which before wasn't feasible." Compared to a decade ago the internet has become more of a haven for startups and small businesses.

Whether from the keynotes or the multitude of panels, attendees learned strategies, recognized trends, or found new methods of marketing. And with such a smorgasbord of booths, I can't imagine any entrepreneur couldn't find a new partner or vendor if they really looked. And while some of the panels could've been more focused or more detailed, most at least opened your eyes to the bigger picture.

Whether you were an entrepreneur attending the event or a small business who had a booth, there was definitely something to be gained--if only an appreciation of what the internet can do for business.