PPC Is The Red-Headed Stepchild of SEM

Now that I’ve been back from SMX Advanced for a few days, I wanted to catch up on the sessions I wasn’t able to attend. I stuck to the PPC track, but am interested in a recap of the SEO sessions too. So, naturally I turned to the links on Search Engine Land to the liveblogged session notes.

I’m glad I attended the PPC sessions and am looking for the SEO session notes, and not the other way around. It appears that the SEO sessions had heavier blog coverage than the PPC sessions. I noticed that in many of the PPC sessions, the only blogger in the audience was Barry Schwartz or Tamar Weinberg or Lisa Barone. Furthermore, I noticed that most of the “rockstars” of the SEM industry were hanging out at the SEO sessions, even those who are “SEM-neutral” – for instance, I didn’t see Danny Sullivan in *any* of the PPC sessions. I guess we PPC pros are the red-headed stepchildren of SEM.

To be fair, we did have rockstars present: Chris Sherman moderated a couple of PPC sessions, as did Matt Van Wagner. Kevin Lee and Mona Elesseily spoke, and there were several first-time speakers (at least first-time for me) that were very good, too. But I didn’t see a lot of the A-list bloggers or writers anywhere in the room.

Before I get lambasted by the blogosphere, let me point out that I have numbers to back up my claim. Search Engine Land lists 18 links to posts for Day 1 of SMX Advanced, and 28 links for Day 2, for a total of 46 posts. They break down this way:

13 SEO
2 SEM Business (Day 1 only)
4 Developer (Day 2 only)
18 Other (keynotes, parties, etc.)

It makes sense that the keynotes would have more posts, since (theoretically) everyone attended those. And all the PPC sessions have at least one post. But SEO has 45% more posts than PPC.

Should we PPC pros step up the blogging action? Or are we just too busy with implementation of good tactics for blogging? Or both? Hey, I guess I look good in red hair.

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SMX Advanced – Went Too Fast Again

It’s 4:30 a.m. Pacific time, and I’m sitting in the airport at Sea-Tac, waiting to board my plane back home after attending SMX Advanced ’08. Like last year, it was a great conference, with advanced topics and all the heavy hitters in search present. And like last year, it went way too fast – I feel like I needed another day to absorb all the great information and talk to all the great people that were there.

All that said, I’ll share what I felt were the best things about the conference, and what can be improved upon for next year.

The best:

* The last session of the last day, Amazing New PPC Tactics, was by far the best session I attended. David Szetela’s presentation on improving results in the content network was full of useful, actionable tips on setting up content network campaigns that perform.
* The networking, again, was one of the best parts of the show. It’s a relatively small conference, and because it’s geared to advanced SEMs, opportunities abound to chat with the movers and shakers in the industry. I got to share thoughts and ideas with Matt Van Wagner, Mona Elesseily, David Szetela, Marty Weintraub, and many more; and I had the distinct pleasure of having dinner with Carrie Hill, Lauren Cobb, and Cathy Tomten; and hanging out with Colleen Wright at the PPC Pro People meet-and-greet. It was great to reunite with those I’ve met before, and even better to meet some new friends and colleagues.

* The food. Again, SMX delivered the goods with incredible food and snacks. As I sit here in the airport where none of the food stands are open yet, I’m longing for the great breakfast I enjoyed the past 2 days!

Things to improve:

* Now that I’m working for an agency dealing with small to medium size businesses, I found that a lot of the sessions and ideas shared were geared toward large, enterprise-level organizations with unlimited financial and human resources. There were a lot of really in-depth, granular ideas presented, yet I found myself thinking “that’s nice, but we don’t have a single client that would be willing to pay for that, nor do we have the people to implement all those things.” I’d like to hear more ideas that don’t require fancy software packages and a team of programmers and analysts to implement and act upon.

* There seemed to be more sales pitches and less sharing of how-to at this conference than in the past. The session on “Closing the Loop” was almost entirely a pitch for SalesForce, which I’m sure is a great CRM product – but none of our clients have this, so how do I implement these tactics? And how do I find the time to dig into that level of detail?

* And one housekeeping item: Provide a coat check! This is Seattle – it’s cold and rainy, and since the show hotel was a couple blocks from the conference center, people brought coats and umbrellas – which they were forced to lug around all day long. And because a laptop was a must, since that’s how questions were submitted this year, folks had that to lug around as well. It left me with no free hands to shake or grab handouts, business cards, or the few swag items from the exhibit hall.

As you can see, it’s a pretty short list of things to improve. All in all, it was a top-notch conference – I’m already looking forward to next year!

*Author’s note: This post was written on Thursday, June 5, 2008.

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Headed to SMX Advanced

Soon I will be leaving for SMX Advanced 2008 in Seattle. I was lucky enough to attend last year, and I can’t wait for this year’s conference. Many SEM pros must agree with me, since the conference sold out 3 weeks in advance. I’ll try to post updates throughout the show, but either way, I know it’ll be a good one.

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