Five Questions For Danny Sullivan

Whether you are attending one (or many) search conferences this year, it's likely that Search Marketing Expo (SMX) may be on your list. June 4 marks the kickoff of Third Door Media's first conference in Seattle (in a series of seven already announced through 2008), and is chaired by Search Engine Strategies founders Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman.With only 10 days before the opening of SMX Advanced in Seattle, Danny Sullivan sat down to discuss his new endeavor.

How is SMX different from other search marketing conferences, particularly SES?


Chris Sherman and I have been programming successful search conferences for years. All that knowledge and skill is going into producing quality panels and sessions people expect from us. In addition, we're especially putting attention to ensure there's a great networking and conference experience overall. It's also important to remember that SMX isn't a conference -- it's a conference series. Each SMX event has something different to offer to attendees, whether it's a focus on a particular topic, such as local search, or a regional emphasis, such as our London event.

What type of advanced marketers are you targeting at the Seattle show? How do you define an advanced search marketer, and what should they expect?

The best way I could describe an advanced search marketer is probably someone who has been to some panel or session on search marketing and thought "I could have been on that panel." Alternatively, it's anyone who feels they know the ropes well. That group should expect some surprises, some tips and advice new even to them. They should especially expect an opportunity to help shape and influence the direction of the industry, given we have several "summit" style sessions. They should also be prepared to come away enthused about search marketing again!

Which search engines will be represented at the show?

All the majors -- Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Ask.com -- will be there, on various sessions. We also have a "Beyond The Majors" panel that involves LookSmart, Marchex and MIVA. But it's not just a search engine show; we have plenty of panels that involve search marketers

Do you see search conference attendance growing over the next few years? If so, what is driving the growth?

SES certainly saw growth over the past years, and that has seemed mostly driven by new people coming into the marketplace. I've long wondered when we'll hit that point when there are no more new people to come in. We seem a long way off from that. Plenty of people still don't know about search.

How will the recently announced SMX West show approach differ from the other six SMX shows in 2007?

One way I'm trying to explain the SMX shows is by comparing them to boutique shops versus supermarkets. Both have their purpose and usefulness.

You want that specialty item, that great range of selection of a particular type of product? A boutique might be the place to go. Our SMX Advanced, Local & Mobile, Social Media and Travel events happening in 2007 all let you drill down into a particular aspect of search. You can go deeper into these areas than you can with a more general purpose show.

To some degree, our two non-U.S. shows - Stockholm and London -- are somewhat boutique-like. They'll cover all aspects of search marketing and be accessible to search marketers of all levels. But they'll also be tailored and focused to their regions. Search marketing in Europe and the U.K. has different challenge, which local speakers can address, and local audiences appreciate.

SMX West is our supermarket. It's one-stop shopping for the new person who wants to come up to speed on a range of general search marketing issues. They'll be able to toss all types of different sessions into their learning cart. But more advanced search marketers will also find topics of interest. In addition, as a "big" show, it can serve as a nexus or central gathering place in the way that is unique for those types of events.