After reading it, I felt the need to chime in. I think there is certainly some sort of an uptick in our industry. However, it is hard to judge success by a social event or any event, for that matter. Take some of these large conferences, for instance. How many of the attendees actually pay? I guess we'll have to see.
As far as East Coast organizations go, in Boston we have the Boston Interactive Media Association. You've most likely heard me talking about it as I am on the board. BIMA is our version of 212 except we've been around for seven years.
I agree with Mark when he said 700 attendees for the event is great, but it was social. Brian Quinn didn't want us to lose sight of the educational aspect of it.
In speaking with our board, our president and founding member, Brian Shepherd, had a lot to say. Certainly, he is a veteran in this space. He represents an organization that has survived pre- and post-Boom. He's also offered his help to 212. Let's face it; whether we are in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or anyplace else on the map, we have to have camaraderie here, folks.
I promise I will not start belting out Gloria Ganyor's, "I will Survive." But hey, we have. I also think social events are great but they are well... social. About 6 years back I created a focused interest group called Eyeballs with MITX (BIMA's parent organization). The premise of the organization is to educate, promote, and unite the local digital media community.
A few days ago, we held an event based on member demand called, Paid Search-the Next Frontier. Niki Scevak, Research Analyst from Jupiter, moderated a panel of experts: Ron Belanger, VP of Search, Carat Interactive; John Ferber, CIO, Advertising.com; James Lamberti, VP Media Solutions, comScore networks; Frederick Marckini, CEO & Founder, iProspect; and Kevin Lee, CEO, DID-IT.com.
This event reinforced the success, strength, sustenance, and support in our community. Certainly, most local educational events yield a smaller audience. However, everyone here (about sixty people) overfilled seats in the Boston Computer Museum to hear these men speak. To top it off, everyone bought, sold, recommended, or reported on search engine marketing.
The forum provided a place for the community to come together after work to network and gain some knowledge on a hot service offering we deal with daily. If we have written a program where each attendee (including speakers and moderators) could either gain reinforcement of their efforts, or walk away with a new contact or new tidbit of knowledge, we consider the event a success.
Frederick Marckini said it best when he told the audience, "You've asked us for ROI. I can tell you the 'I' but you need to tell us the R."