For those unfamiliar with it, SEMPO is an organization that has helped to bring together search and digital marketers from around the world. It provides companies and individual professionals the opportunity to share and discover best practices, innovations, educational resources, and general thought leadership. Association with SEMPO also signals a certain degree of legitimacy to the market; in an industry where external perception is often shaped by negative headlines, SEMPO affiliation can help.
As part of my nomination, I was asked to respond to a few questions regarding the state of the search industry, and SEMPO’s role in particular. One question stood out. It’s an obvious question to ask, but an interesting one to consider from the perspective of an organization like SEMPO: “The practice of search marketing continues to evolve and incorporates various elements of digital marketing. How do you suggest SEMPO address this evolution?”
My full response to that question can be found on the SEMPO website, but here’s a pertinent excerpt: “SEMPO needs to embrace this change and not shy away from it. Search marketers (and platforms like GoTo, and eventually AdWords) were the pioneers that brought Internet marketing back from the dead following the .com bust. I think that same sense of exploration and innovation still exists within our core community.”
I go on to talk about the broad topic of data analytics as the red thread that unifies all flavors of digital marketing, representing perhaps the most tangible opportunity for collaboration. In my mind, it’s the logical place to start if part of SEMPO’s aim for the next several years is to “address evolution.” Evolution in data science has been a catalyst to the evolution seen universally across digital marketing channels.
So then the questions that are really worth considering become 1), as digital marketing professionals (search, social, display, email/CRM, etc.), do our common interests in data present a chance for a larger, happier, more connected community? And 2), do search marketers, arguably the biggest beneficiaries of data silos (last-click attribution bias towards search), have the guts to be pioneers once more?
I’d argue that the answer to both questions is “yes.”
SEMPO, and by extension the search marketing community it serves, has a unique opportunity to lead. There are many challenges ahead of us on the topic of data and analytics: user privacy and third-party cookie tracking, multi-channel attribution, possible/eventual regulation in the world of RTB display advertising. Surely, our unified voices would resonate loudest as policies are shaped and new best practices emerge.
I’m confident that we’ll find that the heyday of search marketing wasn’t in the rearview mirror, and I’m hopeful that I’ll have the chance to shape the plan as SEMPO addresses the ongoing evolution.