Darshan from easybib.com, Till and myself headed over to the Search Engine Strategies 2006 Expo last week in NYC. What follows in this entry is my observations and general commentary on the Expo and the sponsors/exhibitors therein.
My initial take is, “boy how times have changed.” I have been working in the online space since the mid-90’s and have seen the ups and the downs. I have attended the events at the Javits Center which appeared to be 10-20x larger (in terms of Exhibitors) than this conference. But I will say that it was certainly larger than the early 2000’s timeframe for conferences and exhibits. There were also less “celebrity babes” than in previous years selling their wares.
If 2005 was the year of the blog, 2006 is certainly the year of the SEO.
We arrived around 11am to the Hilton NY. While the template followed with the Javits feel, the atmosphere was more intimiate with the hotel’s lower ceilings and lighting. Check-in was smooth, though I must admit $3.50 to check a coat seemed a bit much. A nice box lunch was provided with many options and beverage choices.
Heading into the exhibit halls, Till mentioned right away is that many of these companies are using the Google API to create their products. If Google turned off their API, I would guess 200-300 companies would be out of business in a week. What I noticed a difference in was the level of in-your-face selling. In previous years, normally every booth would want to scan your badge, get your business card, and talk your ears off for 10 minutes. These exhibitors allowed you to come to them to ask which was a pleasant surprise.
Some other vendors I noted include:
- Google – this event took place on the same day that the CFO said that growth was stagnant and the stock dropped $35/share. Their booth was the largest and the most trafficked. I didn’t notice anything new but just the same good stuff we have come to expect from Google.
- Yahoo! – ok, they had the coolest setup. The couches were great and the mood was setup well. Again, like Google, just the same discussions as in previous years.
- PartyPartners, 888.com – Since online gambling is illegal in the USA, I was shocked to see these company at the event. While I know they offer free gaming as well on their .net sites, they were clearly promoting their .com pay sites. I would hope they were online promoting their .com sites to people who have businesses outside the USA.
- Avenue A | Razorfish – It appears that AA|RF now has a dedicated search business. They claim to be the largest though in all of my dealings with AA|RF , I have never heard them mention this as one of their core capabilities.
- Hitwise – Awesome program which I have used extensively. It is expensive but provides a nice 3rd party audit point. I have questioned them several times about their data collection methods and also why they report everything in percentages but no response has come to this point.
- JoeBucks.com – This might have been one of the busiest booths – selling herbal supplements and receive a commission. I guess the big sign, “50% revenue share” pulled many in.
- The Karcher Group – this appeared to be the only company which promoted web development rather than SEO/SEM.
- Omniture – great analytics application – quite expensive but for a large company, it is the way to go.
- WebTrends – frankly, I am not sure how this company still continues to operate as a going concern. Their program today is basically the same as when I first used it in 1997, albeit a bit prettier. I would love to have a conversation with the VP Marketing from WebTrends to understand how their product competes with the likes of Omniture and the others.
- Text Link Ads – One of the only exhibitors I noticed that promoted the sales of text links. We will be testing out their service this month and I will report back on the success of the program.
- VMN.net – they have a custom toolbar program that basedon their materials appears free. We will be testing this out later this month.
Overall, I was impressed by the number of attendees. Many of the web agencies whom I expected to be an exhibitor were absent. It was certainly more than I had anticipated. It shows how the term “SEO” has become the new buzz word for 2006. It was great to see that the things we are doing on htmlcenter.com for SEO/SEM are similar to what the big companies are doing. I am glad that we attended this event and look forward to implementing some of the new strategies we learned to continue to raise our rankings and create better SEM engagements as well. I look forward to attending this event in 2007, if for nothing else, to see if SEO is still a buzzword!
We requested media passes, but due to the late notice, were denied. Hopefully next year we will be granted media passes.