It’s one of my favorite times of the year. The trees are budding, the birds are singing and search engine marketers all over the country are preparing their livers for a quarterly pickling commonly known as Search Engine Strategies (SES). It's going on all week folks, so get yourself to New York City pronto!
From session to session and bar to bar there is so much to learn at SES. For those of you going for the first time, or those veterans who want to learn the latest and greatest paid search techniques, there are sessions for everyone. But for those that care, I’m going to compile the sessions I’m most looking forward to attending. Keep in mind that these are the sessions I’m interested in and there are plenty I won’t be able to make that will be excellent.
But before I get into the sessions I can’t wait to attend, a bit of advice for newbies to SES. Make sure that you get out and talk to people. Networking at SES is a must in order to get the most out of your experience. Every year I learn as much or more at lunch or at the bar after hours as I do in the great sessions.
Also, make sure you stay for the Q&A of every session. The Q&A is always my favorite part, both as a speaker and as an audience member. This is the time when you can pick up solutions to real problems other advertisers are experiencing. And, as I am on the panel of the Paid Search Clinic, I’m a little biased – but I encourage all attendees who care about paid search to show up. In this session we look at audience members search advertising campaigns and landing pages and offer advice for improvement. The panel is top notch, with Brad Geddes, Jesse Strichiolla. The three of us have been doing this together for a long time, and I learn something new from both Brad and Jesse every show.
But enough shameless self-promotion. Let’s talk about the sessions I can’t wait to attend.
I won’t be getting in until early Tuesday afternoon, and that’s a shame because I would really like to hear what the stellar crew on the "Compare & Contrast: Ad Program Strategies" will have to say. I’d like to hear this panels take on the portfolio approach to SEM as well as Yahoo Panama. I’d also like to hear about experiences with MSN and their targeting technology – both good and bad.
I’ll also be missing the "Ads in a Quality Score World" panel. Quality score is a topic for another column I’ll be tackling shortly, but it’s always good to hear others' experiences with a new feature as dramatic as this one has been for the paid search world. Perhaps someone could take some good notes and send them to me? After all, that is how I got through college.
If my plane isn’t delayed and I’m not dismembered in a taxicab accident, I will be attending the "Where Are You Spending Your Clients' Money?" panel. It’s always good to hear what major brands with big dollars are thinking in terms of where they are spending their money and why. Also, I’ll probably stop by the "Search Advertising 101" panel that afternoon as well. It’s always good to see how paid search is being presented to those new to the field. And, well let’s be honest, those who become overwhelmed sometimes need an agency to cry on, and coincidentally -- my agency has a pretty good shoulder for that.
Wednesday is going to be jam-packed with great sessions. The "Search Ad Buyers Forum" looks very interesting to me and I’m sure the Q&A will be somewhat lively.
After that, I’ll definitely be heading over to "Meet the Search Ad Networks" as it’s always good to hear things straight from the search engine’s mouth.
I definitely don’t want to miss "Putting Search Into The Marketing Mix" later that afternoon. I think anyone who’s been in search long enough, knows that for a long time search was relegated to an add-on, if budget was available. Well, as Patrick Swayze once said, "No one puts baby in a corner." Now that we are out of the corner, it’s time to hear how we can integrate and play nice with the rest of the kids.
To wrap up my day, I’ll likely be heading to "Search & Branding". I actually presented on this panel a few years ago, but so much has changed. Everyone is talking about the link between search and branding (see my column last week) and I want to hear the latest stats and thinking from both the presenters and the audience in the Q&A. But I will be upset to miss the "Landing Page Testing & Tuning" session at the same time. Again, would someone please take notes for me?
On Thursday, I’m sure I’ll be struggling to get out of bed, but I will -- just so I can attend the "Ad Testing: Research & Findings." If you talk to me for more than five minutes about paid search, you are likely to hear me say the word "test" at least five times. This is a session I definitely can’t miss.
Then I plan on heading the "Search & Privacy" session, which is of great interest lately with Google promising to randomize data and AOL giving out everyone’s search queries.
I know I’m going to need a nap, but I’m going to truck on and go to the "Microsoft adCenter: Today and Tomorrow" at the end of the day. Microsoft hasn’t been in my good book lately, but I keep hoping that someday they may just get it together and offer me the kind of services I desire. I can always hope, right?
Come Friday morning, I’ll be mostly prepping for my own session at 10:45, but I will probably do my prepping while listening to the "Ad Agencies: Understanding The Search Difference" session. It’s always fun to see how large ad agencies are viewing search and how it has changed over the years.
After my session ends, I’ll have to head for the airport. My brain will be overloaded and most likely my liver will as well. I hope to see you at the show, and please come and say hello. I would love to hear what you think of this column as well as any ideas you have for future column ideas. See you at the show.