Search Engine Strategies – New York City

Well, I just returned from another great Search Engine Strategies event. It is amazing to me how much this conference continues to grow, year after year.

While it’s always good to attend these to see friends, meet potential and current clients, and learn a thing or two, I was struck by how much this conference seems – to me – to evolve into an Interactive marketing conference rather than just “search”. I think this is an indication of where the medium is heading…the convergence of all media.

Some of the presentations I was most impressed with were those regarding the podcasting and blogging space. Many companies are still trying to figure out a strategy here.

On Monday, I attended a session titled “Podcast Search” which spoke to the tactics one might use to promote Podcasts through search engine marketing. Although all of the panelists were wonderful (Daron Babin from Webmaster Radio and Ethan Fassett from Yahoo!’s audio search team), I was really struck with the presentation that Amanda Watlington shared. Fortunately, Shana Barkley is friends with Amanda and made the introduction. Amanda and I were able to get together one evening with other friends (Christine Churchill from Key Relevance, Mike Grehan from Marketsmart Interactive, and Brett Tabke with WebmasterWorld.com) and shared some spirited discussion on the current state of our space and where we’re headed.

Also, on Monday, was a keynote address from someone that I really respect within our space and that is Barry Diller. As many of you may know, I began my journey in Interactive with a stint at Lycos. Well, Mr. Diller had made a play to acquire Lycos back then and the deal was called off because too many people didn’t believe it was a good thing for Lycos shareholders. I’m sure that those people are kicking themselves, now. At any rate, I had the fortune of getting the opportunity to share a few words with Mr. Diller which may have been the highlight of my trip.

Mr. Diller was at SES to promote the re-launch of “Ask Jeeves” as just “Ask” (Mr. Jeeves has taken retirement). I was extremely impressed with the direction that they are taking with this search engine. To me, they have taken the “portal” approach of the late 90’s and early 2000’s and applied this to the “clean/neat” factor of Google. This takes Vertical Search in a whole ‘nother direction. I really think they’re heading in the right direction. Amanda Watlington and I have varied opinions on this subject and have placed a bet on where things may stand one year from today (I’m holding you to this bet, Amanda!).

I do think that we may experience some shake-ups in the market. If Ask.com is successful, as I believe that they may be, and if Microsoft’s recent claim holds true, then Google may have something to be concerned about.

Well, another SES/NYC. I am exhausted but yet excited to see what next year’s event may be like. Perhaps it will be Interactive Marketing Strategies – 2007?