Search Engine Strategies (SES) got under way in San Jose Monday morning with a bang. It's big, it's bold and it has everything search. This year, sessions are five tracks deep over four days. There is truly something for everyone here and, as one advertiser put it, this is a great way to connect with everyone and everything search in one place.
Each track consists of specialized focal points for those hot on the trail of search marketing knowledge. For beginners there's the fundamentals track. Attendees who have been there and done that have the Advanced Track. There is also a great deal of special interest content such as the Vertical Track, the Contextual & Partnering Track, and JupiterResearch tracks. Bound to be hot topics are Advertising, Video along with PR and Blogs.
With all of this content, you might think it would be hard to pack it all into a one week column -- and you would be correct. So, this week and next we'll take a good long look into the movers and shakers in search, live from the heart of Silicon Valley.
From the press room
DoubleClick's search marketing unit, Performics introduced the Performics 50, a measure of Cost Per Keyword (CPK) as a means to track the rise and fall of keyword pricing. To date, only Fathom, a search marketing firm, has produced a report on search engine keyword pricing. Performics' report will include 50 of the keyword-based search marketing programs under management by the firm.
Anyone who stuck around for the evening booze fest -- ahem, that is to say the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization's (SEMPO) annual meeting -- got treated to a special announcement from Yahoo! Search (formerly Overture.com) in the form of a new Search Marketing Alliances Program. The new program is "designed to assist agencies, search engine marketers (SEMs) and web professionals in earning money and growing their businesses," according to a Yahoo! spokesperson. This announcement included a Certified Affiliate Program for those who refer business to Yahoo!, as well as an expanded support program for those who wish to manage their own programs.
Not to be outdone by Yahoo! and DoubleClick, my firm, Zunch Communications announced the release of a specialized click fraud reporting tool, the Click Fraud Detective, which allows pay per click advertisers to uncover and report unwarranted click traffic. No one is really sure how big the click fraud problem is, but it should be clear to every search advertiser that investing the time to make sure your clicks are valid is a worthwhile endeavor.
The search marketing firm, Efficient Frontier today announced year over year improved sales to the tune of 30 percent for its client Replacements, Ltd, the world's largest supplier of old and new china and crystal. As a result of this increase, keywords have been expanded from 20,000 to 40,000 total keywords under management and an increase of spending to $1.5 million for the coming year. Bravo Efficient Frontier!
Yesterday, search destination LookSmart, announced a new vertical focus in its endeavors. According to a LookSmart spokesperson, "LookSmart has rolled its 10 educational sites, including five new sites, into a single cluster: "LookSmart Education." With the growth potential that exists within vertical search, it's no wonder LookSmart has a sharp focus in this area.
Overheard in the night life
I love the night life. I like to boogey. It wouldn't be a trade show without the best in evening entertainment. Monday night's festivities included the Yahoo! Search Night Off and a series of "around town" parties that offered live entertainment and a multitude of libation operations.
First on my agenda was the Yahoo! Search Night Off held at Paramount's Great America Theme Park. Nothing says thanks for making Yahoo! a wealthy portal like an evening of personalized throw up rides. Though no one was seen vomiting after the atrocious summer camp buffet style dinner, a great time was had by all as attendees got the executive "no waiting in line" treatment at the park. There really is no better way to bond than in the throes of uncertain death at the hands of an 80 mile per hour roller coaster.
Later in the evening, Yahoo! offered an after party, but the real action was seen at the Ask Jeeves party held at downtown San Jose's swanky/trendy Studio 8. The butler gets the award for best beverage opportunities and (dare I say it?) pole dancers. You heard that right, scantily clad women dancing to pulse pounding beats kept the party going until a live band unceremoniously ended all that for us. On that note, I have a whole new list of things I would like to ask the butler.
SEMPO on search
Ladies and gentlemen, our dear little Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) is showing signs of growing up. The annual SEMPO meeting was held Monday evening, and -- in the grand search marketing tradition -- an open bar made this meeting a must attend.
After a slow start this year SEMPO announced explosive membership growth and a fully-fledged board comprised of industry professionals from all over search with specialized disciplines in finance, management and marketing. Focused efforts for the rest of 2005 will be continuing education on search marketing with short, highly-focused webinars designed for executive training on search engine marketing.
Of course, the annual search study is a big focus for SEMPO, and I would encourage all of you to visit the SEMPO site and take the survey. Though SEMPO is steering clear of setting industry standards and guidelines -- and there is still plenty of room for improvement in efficiency -- the organization is light years ahead of where it was this time last year. The best way to help them move forward is to get involved and help out, so what are you waiting for?
Next Week: More from SES.
iMedia Search Editor Kevin Ryan's current and former client roster reads like a "who's who" in big brands; Rolex Watch, USA, State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Minolta Corporation, Samsung Electronics America, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Panasonic Services, and the Hilton Hotels brands, to name a few. Ryan believes in sound guidance, creative thought, accountable actions and collaborative execution as applied to search, or any form of marketing. His principled approach and staunch commitment to the industry have made him one of the most sought after personalities in online marketing. Ryan volunteers his time with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, and several regional non-profit organizations.
Kevin Ryan is chief strategy officer at Zunch Communications.