The information pack is in PDF format. It details that the group will have four types of memberships, as listed below.
- Individual Membership: Open to search marketing professionals who work in the industry full-time. Can attend meetings, participate and vote. Cost is £250 pounds per year,
or about $465.
- Corporate Membership: Open to search marketing companies. Allows up to four company employees to attend meetings, but only one person can act as a company representative
during voting. Provides the ability to exhibit at SMA meetings. Cost is £1000 per year, or about $1,850.
- Associate Membership: Open to companies interested in search marketing or that sell to search marketers. Can attend and participate in open meetings but cannot participate in
closed sessions about policy formation. No voting ability. Can exhibit at SMA meetings. Cost will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with the group's executive committee
apparently charging companies more based
on ability to pay.
- Student Membership: Open to those learning about search marketing but not employed in the profession full-time. Cost is £125 per year, or about $230.
Those already members of the SEMPO search marketing group are entitled to a 10 percent discount on SMA-UK fees.
SMA plans to charge its officers membership fees, unlike SEMPO. Officers at SEMPO are given free elite "Circle Membership" status, which has drawn some criticism. SMA UK also doesn't plan to accept sponsorships from search engines, something else that SEMPO's been criticized for.
Separation Of Group & Search Engines
Acting SMA-UK head Barry Lloyd explained to me recently that this is because SMA-UK may conceivably wish to take action against the interests of search engines. Accepting sponsorship funds from search engines could hinder that.
Having said this, the group may still take funds from search engines -- and perhaps substantial amounts -- given that associate membership fees will be based on a company's size. In addition, associate members can pay to exhibit at SMA-UK meetings.
Another way the group is trying to prevent search engines from having undue influence over the organization is by only allowing them to become associate members. This means SMA-UK can exclude them from meetings where policies relating to search engines may be set.
As I told Barry, that sounds like a good idea at first. But realistically, the search engines will easily discover exactly what was said in any meeting. After all, they'll have a number of key search marketing partners that will obviously report back.
Given this, I'd say you might as well include them in policy meetings. It certainly gives them the ability to provide clarification and information, if needed. It could even cause the search engines to take corrective actions before some type of policy had to be formally set.
Still, I suppose some people will be more comfortable if the search reps aren't actually in the room, even if they'll eventually learn what happened. It's also worth noting that SMA-UK's executive committee can allow associate members to remain in policy meetings, as it deems useful.
The information packs notes that at least 75 members will be needed before the group is considered viable. To date, the organization says it has had over 200 interest requests. Now that interest gets put to the test, as people can formally join for the first time.
Sister group SMA-EU, for European search marketers, doesn't yet have an information pack up. However, the basics should be very similar to SMA-UK, given that SMA-EU has used the SMA-UK constitution as its base. The group has promised more information soon.