A great start to any search marketer’s year is to attend a conference to meet with peers and get inspiration from quality sessions. As a London-based marketer, I’ve been visiting Search Engine Strategies London for the past few years. I’ve always regarded this as the must-attend event in Europe, and this year was no different.
For platinum-pass holders, in addition to three days of search marketing goodness, there was also an additional pre-event day with the Online Marketing Summit. This was a bit of a last-minute event, so only attended by a bit over a hundred delegates, but the content was still quite good. While it crossed over to search marketing with sessions on social media and lead generation, it aimed to cover the broader aspects of online marketing but was quite focused on email marketing.
Back to the SES conference, and it was kicked off in style by Google’s analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik. While I’ve been a keen follower on twitter, blogs, and reader of his books, Avinash is an absolute delight who excels at presentations. With a high-energy keynote filled with enthusiasm and humor, he broke down the complexities of analytics with hands-on tools and tips.
As expected at any event, there are a few duds that I wish I had given a miss. I wouldn’t blame the actual speakers as they’re all highly competent at what they do, but instead how the sessions have been described and targeted (or perhaps lack thereof). For example, the session named “Pushing Content Via XML, RSS & Site Maps” drew a big audience, but was disappointingly basic and mostly a long-winded way of saying that XML sitemaps are not very useful. The “New Affiliate Opportunities” session was also very confusing in content, as it covered both SEO 101 and hyper-competitive markets such as gambling.
On the second day, my favorite session was delivered by a panel of newspapers discussing the advent of real-time SEO. I was duly impressed by the sophistication of the SEO tactics employed by British Guardian.co.uk, Telegraph.co.uk and the Chicago Tribune.
My final session of the week was “Search Becomes the Display OS,” which was another high point with a very competent panel that provided some real insights while keeping a good pace and interaction. As you might expect, it discussed what display advertising can learn from search marketing. Except for the use of keywords to contextually target and using similar KPIs, the consensus seems to be that there’s not much other crossover, and that they are clearly separate.
In addition to the actual topics covered at the sessions, my key takeaway from the event was that the most successful sessions were the ones that had:
- a clearly defined audience in mind
- a description of the session that didn’t oversell it (thus, aligned expectations)
- three to four speakers to keep a good tempo and variation
All in all, top marks for SES London 2010. See you there next year!