My, how the Dallas search landscape has changed since Search Engine Strategies last held its national show here, before it was moved to Chicago in 2003. While comparing the bigger national show to the lean and laid-back Search Engine Watch LIVE series is not exactly an apples-to-apples proposition, it's still worth a look back to understand how search engine marketing has progressed over the last four to five years.
At that last SES show in Dallas, I was working as an in-house marketer for the ecommerce division of a national multichannel retailer. I remember randomly sitting down at a networking table next to MarketNet's Bill Hartzer and Kinetic Results' Tony Wright. Out of this chance meeting, and along with many other professional search engine marketers in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, we later formed the DFWSEM Association, and have continued to put on monthly search events in Dallas since February 2004. In many ways, the success of the organization is due to the absence of a major search show in the region.
Origins of SEMPO in Dallas
I also have a vivid recollection of Barbara Coll, CEO of WebMama.com, walking down the hallway of the Adam's Mark in 2002 with a few other search engine optimizers to discuss the formation of a new association she called "SEMPO," or the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization. So Coll and company hammered out the details for what has become the national group for SEM professionals.
In 2007, first-year SEMPO board member Christine Churchill of KeyRelevance continues to have a major Dallas search presence and appeared on several panels at the Dallas SEW Live held last Thursday. The whole Search Engine Watch gang was also on hand, including executive editor Rebecca Lieb, 2007 moderator Elisabeth Osmeloski, and SEW senior editor Kevin Newcomb.
Mark Jackson, CEO of VIZION Interactive, gave an excellent presentation on transitioning natural search in a site redesign at SEW 2007. Back in 2002, Jackson would tell you that he worked the SES Dallas show in a dog costume as Lycos the Dog. I've known Mark for about five years now, and if being its mascot is not proof enough, I can say that this is a guy who is truly passionate about the search business.
DFW agencies turn out in 2007
Overall attendees got a taste of the current state of paid and natural search, with a discussion of social media throughout the afternoon. By proportion, the 2007 crowd also had a larger number of agencies in attendance. Representing agencies included AffGoo, Bagwell Internet, Efficient Frontier, Click Here / Richards Group, Kinetic Results, MarketNet, Power-Per-Click, Range Online Media, SearchDex, Temerlin McClain, and TMP. Many members of the Dallas / Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association were also on hand.
Although there were many great moments during the event last Thursday, two particular events stood out. On the Search 2.0 panel, Giovanni Gallucci of Kinetic Results described his live documentation of the day's event in photos, audio and video, and instantly published them to the Web. He was tagging every speaker's name and agency, and also every name that appeared on a banner in the room. Gallucci was a walking example of social media optimization in action.
Terry Heaton was also on the Search 2.0 panel, and gave a very interesting take on the state of local media on the Web. Based on his 30 years in the local media business, he said that the old guard is going to lose their hats to Google and Yahoo in the long run. The biggest mistake that local media sites have made is letting those two giants take over the monetization of the online ad space, he said, noting that Yahoo and Google are "enemies" of traditional media, in a war that traditional media started.
Last Thursday showed that Dallas continues to have a highly active search community. Don't be surprised if another search event comes back again soon -- certainly in less than four years.
See Kevin Newcomb's photos of SEW Live in Dallas at http://www.flickr.com/photos/searchenginewatch/