Conference speakers from brand name companies at SES San Jose

Last Thursday, I had a chance to spend a full day with a diverse group of search engine marketers during the Search Engine Strategies “Optimizing for Universal Search” workshop in Seattle. Over lunch, we talked about SES San Jose – which is coming up August 18-22, 2008.

pg_logo.jpg The people around the table were excited to see that conference speakers from brand name companies like Adobe, Cisco, Discover, Forbes, HP, Humana, IBM, Intuit, P&G, Monster, Napster, New England Journal of Medicine, The New Republic, The New York Times, Stanford University, and Walt Disney were on the agenda.

Um, yes, of course. How could I have possibly overlooked that significant market trend?

Okay, so maybe I’ve attended too many SEO conferences. When I looked at the agenda in my post, “Optimizing your schedule for Search Engine Strategies San Jose,” I was excited to see that Matt Cutts, the Software Engineer Guru from Google, was speaking on Day 2 during the Orion Keynote Panel: Technical & Information Giants.

And I’m so used to seeing conference speakers like Marshall D. Simmonds, the Chief Search Strategist of The New York Times /, on the SES conference agenda that I had missed the fact that he is being joined at SES San Jose by more than a dozen other conference speakers from brand name companies.

This market trend is significant.

In the past, conference speakers from brand name companies have been under-represented at search engine conferences.

Part of this is evolutionary. In the early days, most search engine experts either headed up SEO companies or worked at one of the search engines. And these segments are still well represented on the Search Engine Strategies conference agenda.

But part of this is revolutionary. Kevin Ryan, VP of Global Content for the SES series, named an advisory board in August 2007 that included a number of individuals from brand name companies.

Their input is clearly reflected in this year’s agenda at SES San Jose. Here are some examples:

(Monday, Aug. 18, 2008, 1:30 p.m.)
Orion Keynote Panel – How Much Search is Enough?
• Kevin Ryan, Vice President, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch
• Anne Kennedy, Managing Partner & Founder, Beyond Ink
• Robert Murray, President, iProspect
• Aaron Goldman, VP, Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, Resolution Media, an Omnicom Media Group Company
• Steven Kaufman, Senior Vice President, Media Director, Digitas
• Bob Tripathi, Search Marketing Strategist, Discover Financial Services

(Monday, Aug. 18, 2008, 4:30 p.m.)
Opening Keynote Presentation
• Lee Siegel, senior editor at The New Republic and author of “Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob”

(Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008, 9:00 a.m.)
Keynote Roundtable: Why Does Search Get the Credit for Everything?
• Bill Hunt, CEO, Global Strategies International
• Randy Peterson, Search Marketing Innovation Manager, Procter and Gamble
• Terry A. Cox, Manager, Search Engine Marketing, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online
• Mikel Chertudi, Sr. Director, Online & Demand Marketing, Omniture
• Sharon Gallacher, West Coast Managing Director, Neo@Ogilvy

(Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008, 2:45 p.m.)
War of the Search Worlds: Unifying Your Global Search Marketing Program
• Kevin Heisler, Executive Editor, Search Engine Watch
• Olivier Lemaignen, Group Manager, Global Search Marketing, Intuit
• Jay Middleton, Senior Manager, Worldwide Search Marketing, Adobe
• Mark Scholz, Interactive Manager of IPG Worldwide, Hewlett-Packard
• Russ Mann, CEO, Covario

(Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, 9:00 a.m.)
Morning Keynote
• Chip Heath, Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and author of “Made to Stick”

(Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, 2:45 p.m.)
In House SEO: Lessons Learned & Victories Won
• Jessica Bowman, SEO Strategist and in-house SEO Expert,
• Marshall D. Simmonds, Chief Search Strategist, New York Times /
• Derrick Wheeler, Senior SEO Architect, Microsoft
• Kara Jariwala, Search Marketing Strategist, Cisco
• Laura Lippay, Group Program Manager, Search Strategy, Yahoo!

Of course, you can also see plenty of search engine experts from SEM and SEO companies speaking at SES San Jose. This includes Greg Boser, Christine Churchill, Barbara Coll, Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Bryan Eisenberg, Kevin Lee, Jeffrey K. Rohrs, Dana Todd, Amanda Watlington, and Jill Whalen, who were all speakers at the first SES conference that I attended in the spring of 2002 — which was programmed back then by Danny Sullivan, who will also be speaking at the SES conference in San Jose next month.

And you can also hear lots of representatives of the top search engines speaking at this year’s Search Engine Strategies San Jose. The fact that it is being held in the backyard of Google and Yahoo explains why the top search engines are sending so many people from their engineering and search quality teams to both the conference and expo.

So, some things haven’t changed.

But, the growing number of conference speakers at SES San Jose from brand name companies is a significant market trend that’s worth noting. It’s “the new new thing” in Silicon Valley.

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