Last year, the Search Marketing Association formed chapters in the UK and Europe. Now one for North America is being founded, with Ian McAnerin leading the charge.
Ian explains more about why the group is being founded, in particular because of his dissatisfaction with SEMPO, in his blog post Search Marketing Association of North America - SMA-NA.
Ian did a lot of work for SEMPO trying to help it sort out the legal mess over its non-profit status. He ultimately concluded, as he shares in the post, that SEMPO was "fundamentally broken" but that many were interested in some type of trade group they could support, especially small SEO firms and single-person shops.
As a Canadian, Ian had considered a SMA-Canada chapter but was afraid the membership levels would be too low. So SMA-NA is designed to encompass the United States and Mexico, as well as Canada.
SEMPO, of course, was founded out of the US and is heavily dominated by US firms. Ian notes in his post that this makes SMA-NA perceived as more a threat to SEMPO than the earlier SMA chapters. This comes from the conversation had with SEMPO president Barbara Coll, he explains.
The entire SEMPO-SMA issue also came up in a recent thread at our forums: SEMPO Versus SMA. The thread was sparked by Mike Grehan, who has been a chief critic of SEMPO since his article pillorying the group and its failings came out last year. In particular, he saw comments from Coll in a ClickZ article about the SMA launch (SMA-NA Set to Launch) as further showing SEMPO as being out of tough with the rank-and-file of the SEM industry.
Personally, I've had my fill of trying to deconstruct the failings of SEMPO, as I posted within that thread. SEMPO has done good things, such as the recent SEM survey. But more important, it feels like at this point those who are dissatisfied with SEMPO for whatever reasons would be better off channeling their energies into one of the SMA groups or even starting an entirely new organization.
In fairness, in the same ClickZ article that sparked the thread debate, SEMPO board member Dana Todd specifically commented that other groups are welcomed:
"We're not the first, and we won't be the last organization for search engine marketing," Todd said. "We have a very specific mission, and other groups have different interpretations of what their needs are. If anyone has the wherewithal and the fortitude, I think it's great."
Privately, SEMPO may have its concerns about SMA-NA. But publicly, it said nothing threatening to the group in the ClickZ article.
Ready to join SMA-NA? You can't yet, as the group doesn't have a site up. But you can discuss what you'd like to see it do in a recent forum thread Ian started: SMA - What do you want it to do?. And below, some additional related resources and a recap of important ones I've mentioned:
- Reflections On SEMPO is my long, long article looking at the problems raised about SEMPO last year.
- SMA-EU Forming For European Search Marketers is a past blog post looking at the formation of the new SMA
groups in reaction to the fallout from SEMPO.
- SMA-UK & SMA-EU are the official web sites of those groups, with a bit more information about
them. Ian's post mentions that SMA-EU had a kick-off meeting on Dec. 21, but there's no news yet of what came out of this posted on the SMA-EU web site or the
- Search Marketing Association of North America - SMA-NA: Ian's blog post,
explaining why he saw a need for SMA-UK.
- SMA-NA - Search Marketing Association North America To Launch: Threadwatch post where Ian provides more details within
the comments about how the group may form, including perhaps an organizational meeting at SES New York.
- SMA-NA Future Web Site: Go here now, and you'll reach SMA-UK. But in the future, that will resolve to an SMA-NA web site.
- SMA - What do you want it to do?: SEW Forums thread that Ian started, asking for input on SMA in
general, but you can contribute about SMA-NA here, as well.
- SEM Industry: Groups is a category of Search Topics available to Search Engine Watch members that lists past blog posts on the topic of search marketing groups.
Postscript: Group Seeks To Rep Search Engine Marketers from MediaPost has more on the SMA-NA launch, with accusations against SEMPO along with SEMPO responses.