Ten Reasons to Attend SES NYC

Next week, Search Engine Strategies (SES) Winter arrives in New York City, running Monday through Thursday. Ironically, sometimes the “Fall” event in Chicago during December ends up being far more wintry than New York, but I digress.

Many readers of this column have been to many SES conferences before and may be waffling about attending this one. Others have yet to attend SES, the biggest and best search engine conference. Either way, you should strongly consider attending. Today, 10 reasons it’s worth the time and the money to attend at a full-conference level and some additional reasons to attend as a trade-show floor attendee, if you can’t swing the cost of the full conference.

My top 10 reasons to attend the SES conference:

  • The keynote, Barry Diller, chairman and CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp, is always a dynamic speaker. Now that IAC owns Ask, IAC’s plans for the Internet at large and for search may be important to the industry and to your place in the Web ecosystem. Besides, everyone thinks Diller isn’t through making acquisitions. Chances are, IAC already has a business unit that impacts your industry.

  • Learn new ways to tap contextual ads and how best to take advantage of the increasing inventory available within these auctions. Now that Google lets you bid separately for contextual inventory, you need to know how to structure and reorganize campaigns so Google’s AdSense can work most efficiently on your behalf. Yahoo also continues to expand its network, so keeping up with Yahoo is critical. Plus MSN’s adCenter is perfectly positioned to jump into the game.
  • Learn about new media forms on the SEM (define) fringes and how they affect you. Rich media, blogs, PR search, mobile, and RSS (define) all have elements of search embedded into them. Don’t let your competition get the first-mover advantage in the newest of the new media.
  • Learn about power segmentation, a topic I’ll cover on Monday. In this session, I’ll talk about how to squeeze more efficiency out of a stagnant or lagging campaign through the application of simple segmentation modeling.
  • Learn how to increase ad CTR (define). CTR isn’t only important in Google, MSN, and Ask. Even ads running in the simple Yahoo auction can benefit from a higher CTR. Several sessions address best practices in ad creation, particularly “Creating Compelling Ads” and “Ad Copy & Landing Page Clinic,” both excellent sessions.
  • Improve your SEO (define). This is a paid search strategies column, but with Google’s recent banning of high-profile sites, you can’t be too careful when it comes to knowing the limits of SEO and best practices. There’s even a session called “SEO Overkill.”
  • Higher conversion rates help you afford higher bids. With competition at all-time highs in many industry segments and across large swaths of keywords, you need all the help you can get in boosting conversion. “Converting Visitors Into Buyers” and “Landing Page Testing & Tuning” are just two sessions from which you can take home pearls of wisdom that might make a big difference in campaign performance.
  • Learn about click fraud. How bad is it? No one knows for sure, but the session on click fraud will show you what to watch out for.
  • Hear the latest SEMPO news. The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) will announce its new board of directors at SES, and there will be a meet-and-greet for members and non-members on Monday, from 6-7 p.m. Stop by to chat with the SEMPO board or get involved with SEMPO as a committee member.
  • Keep up on best practices. Two additional sessions I’ll be involved in are “Getting On Top In Paid Search” and “Search Head Or Search Tail? Getting The Mix Right.” Those combine with a power-packed agenda that has something for almost everyone. Even search branding is covered in several sessions.

In addition to the business reasons for attending, the intangible benefits of networking also factor in. If it still doesn’t look like you should attend, do some quick math.

Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month on paid search, for a total of $24,000 per year forked over to the engines. If you can apply best practices you learn at SES to add 15 percent efficiency to your campaign, that’s an immediate savings or profit boost of $3,600. SES costs much than that, even when you factor in hotel accommodations (unless you have expensive tastes). If you learn a few new SEO best practices, you might end up getting thousands of dollars of free organic clicks. Many of you spend far in excess of $2,000 a month on paid search. Adding 15 percent to your campaigns’ efficiency is probably quite conservative, given the valuable new information covered at the conference.

Meet Kevin at Search Engine Strategies in New York City, February 27-March 2.

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