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Michael Gray’s spin on the agenda of the upcoming SES NY.
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from Dugdale 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 0

SES is going to be replaced by SMX faster than I thought if they do all those sponsered sessions.

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from NickWilsdon 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Just to play devil’s advocate here...Michael’s right, there doesn’t seem to be a non-sponsored option in that one 45 minute slot. However there is nothing sponsored before or after it on that day. The normal sessions are 1hr 15mins (x3) - this sponsored set are 45 mins. That means 3hrs 45mins of normal, non-sponsored presentations in a 9hr conference day. There are no sponsored sessions on any of the other 3 days. Maybe that isn’t normal, I’m not a regular conference attendee but Michael’s post did seem to give the impression that the whole day/conference was dominated by sponsored sessions. http://searchenginestrategies.com/newyork/agenda2.htmlSaying all that though, I don’t know why Michael wasn’t invited to talk. I heard his "Google is not the government" talk was legendary. Maybe Matt put the frighteners on them ;)

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from Sugarrae 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 0

As I said on Twitter... when I saw these creep into the Toronto agenda this past year, I decided I would no longer be speaking at SES.

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from elisabethosmeloski 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 7

Um guys, did no one notice that there were, in fact ’sponsored sessions’ at SMX? both in their own track and in the expo hall.

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from MariosAlexandrou 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Worse than the sponsored events is that I had to dig deep to find just a few sessions of interest. I don’t remember the lineup being as weak as it is this year. Oh well. There are still some presenters worth meeting. At least now there’ll be plenty of time to do so since I won’t be running around trying to hit all of the sessions :-)

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from cre8pc 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Just because a company pays to be seen and heard doesn’t mean they’re any good or their product/service is good.  To make rooom for them, and shut out known popular speakers who pay their own travel expenses is a real shame.How can the SEO industry be upset with ASK making decisions traced to revenue generation and then turn around and make the exact type of decisions for their own business ventures?  When I see "Sponsored", I feel bought. It messes with the spirit of SEM conferences and it could impact the loyalty of those who supported these conferences for so long.Same as the ASK situation.

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Was going to stay out of this, but since Elisabeth raises SMX....Sponsored sessions aren’t new. This isn’t the first SES that has had them. SMX has had them too. I remember saying I was OK with the first SES sponsored session like years and years ago. You’ve got exhibitors that want to be on stage. You’ve got attendees who might like to hear them.My rule then was simply that as a conference chair, I wanted the conference sessions to be marked as sponsored, so attendees knew. And they always were. And we do that with SMX, and we explain that all here:"We do think sponsors and partners have valuable information for our attendees, of course. That’s why we’re proud of our expo halls. At some SMX events we even offer a sprinkling of sessions that are clearly marked "SPONSORED," so you’ll know who is backing them."I think sprinking is important. Sponsored sessions as part of the main show are something we offer *in addition* to regular full programming. We don’t pull something to make room.SES has typically done the same. NY is different in that for one entire time slot, if you’re an attendee, you either have to go to a sponsored session or do nothing at all.Put it another way. Imagine you’re watching TV and have five channels. At SMX, we’d always have regular programming on four of those and occasionally on the fifth channel, you might be able to watch an infomercial. But the other four channels are always on with regular programming.SES did the same until this show. Now, all five channels will go to informercials during one time slot. That’s never been done before with a major search marketing event. Never. Done. Before.From a sponsored standpoint, it might seem genius, in that you can promise your sponsors that there is nothing "good" competing with them. From an attendee standpoint, I guess you hope they find those sponsored sessions gripping, or that they decide they want a break or don’t complain if neither is the same.Personally, I disagree that you have to keep sponsored stuff from conflicting with editorial sessions. I believe our sponsored sessions on "Channel 5" did well. The SMX Theater was a brand new thing where any exhibitor could present in the expo hall, letting the expo hall people who pay very little to get in get some type of formal presentation. They packed those theaters. And all this was done while we kept the regular programming going on all four other channels.

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from elisabethosmeloski 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 5

Kim, do you really mean to imply that the presenations from top companies like Google, Microsoft, Omniture and Hitwise are going to suck? At SMX - there were SEMPO, SEOMoz and IProspect presentations. I didn’t actually attend the SMX sponsored sessions, but of course I heard a few things about them. I’d be curious to know the overall impression from the goup. The Hitwise preso I’ve seen @ Phocuswright, one of many conference series who use sponsored tracks as a way to generate revenue and supplement other sessions- it’s actually a pretty informative session, on top of the push for the product/service - so there’s a good trade off there for attending it. (I just don’t know anything about MEDIO, so I’ll decline to say anying on one side or the other).  sure, there’s going to be a natural need to separate the wheat from the chaffe, but I almost think it’s better to have vendors pimping their products in a known, but semi-informational format. In theory, it should open up MORE spots for speakers who are the actual users of these products in the practical sessions.

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from seowoman 2236 Days ago #
Votes: -2

What, no local search session sponsored by Sam’s Club?

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from cre8pc 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Suck? No. Biased? Yes.I like a mixed panel from reps from different companies, like the panel when "no follow" was introduced and members from each SE had a chance to describe what they wanted to do with it. That was really cool.I’d be surprised if a company that pays for session time sends "bad" speakers. But the objectivity feels different and the incentive for them being there in the first place feels strange.All that said, I absolutely do get that business is business and revenue is hard to come by. I can see WHY these decisions are made but at what cost? For speakers who are actual users of products, if their weekly paycheck comes from the product makers, that’s not going to sell to me.There has to be a balance somehow, so that attendees are learning and trust the credibility of the source presenting to them. We all know that even sponsored ads in Google don’t mean the site or product is any good :)

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from elisabethosmeloski 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 2

sorry danny, didn’t mean to ’pull’ you into it. But I wanted to make the point that everyone shouldn’t be so quick to dog on ’sponsored’ sessions - and yes, SMX did it very well in Santa Clara. I also thought the theater presenations (which i’d seen in other venues) made a lot of sense. However, I would have to correct you a little bit with how it was done at SMX travel/Phocuswright (granted, there could have been less control here over the formatting) - Day 1 - SMX informational sessions.Day 2 - Morning SMX information sessions. Overlapping morning/afternoon infoMERCIAL sessions ONLY. Day 3 - conference sessions. - i think some *could* have been sponsored slots. "SES has typically done the same. NY is different in that for one entire time slot, if you’re an attendee, you either have to go to a sponsored session or do nothing at all." i can’t say I would argue with your notion that it gives all the attention to the sponsor - it’s probably a good thing. But personally if i were going, I would use that time to go back to the room and nap before the evening’s festivities in NYC kicked off... staying up till 5 am gets to you after a few days;)

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from cre8pc 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@elisabethosmeloski  "But personally if i were going, I would use that time to go back to the room and nap before the evening’s festivities in NYC kicked off"That was my first thought when I read the schedule.I’m not a conference planning expert.  All my feedback is as an attendee of any conference and that experience has been that it’s already very hard to choose what sessions to attend.  There is so much to learn and hear that you can’t possibly get to it all. This goes back to the one blog post earlier this week from a SMX attendee who raised the bit about choosing based on the popularity of the speaker.  I suppose that if Google sponsored a 45 minute session with Matt Cutts, it would be a hit because of Matt.  Not every sponsor will have a Matt Cutts.It’s smart to lump sponsored together as is being done.  Maybe there’s a market for these sessions.  I can’t help but think that if I was an CEO and paying the expenses of my employees to attend conferences, I’d want them to get my money’s worth - as in, the investement of my money has to benefit MY company, not the sponsored speaker addressing my employee.

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Heh -- shouldn’t have said pulled me in Elis! I mean, I know you didn’t mean that. It’s a good point. Sponsored sessions aren’t new or unique to SES, and just because they are on the schedule of any show, I don’t think that automatically means you decide against an event. You have to look at the overall context.On SMX Travel, I didn’t do the program. I’ve pulled it up. Day one for our programming was Nov. 12, and I don’t see anything sponsored at all. Day two was half day or regular programming on channel "one" or sponsored workshops all day on "channel two." You weren’t forced to see a sponsored event or nothing, unless you feel like day two should have had complete programming. But it’s also not uncommon that the last day of an event may end early.But hey, if someone wants to look at that one event we did with a partner and say we started it, I can hang with that. But it’s certainly not the norm for us, and I think it’s much different than a general purpose flagship event having a big commercial break in the middle of it.I’m also with you in the push back that sponsored sessions can’t be informative. They totally can. My rules/issues remain. If someone’s speaking because they paid to speak, the audience should know that. I think both SMX and SES are both clear about this. And if the bulk of your program is made up of sponsored sessions (that’s how SES Japan used to be), you shouldn’t be charging much for people to attend.

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from toprank 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 5

The blog post just seems like Michael’s pissed he didn’t get asked to speak. The sponsored vs non sponsored thing is just silly. All speakers are trying to win business directly or indirectly. Paying money and labeling a session Sponsored just makes it transparent.However, making ALL the sessions in the same time slot "sponsored" seems odd.

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from Eavesy 2236 Days ago #
Votes: -2

Grey should be speaking, I would rather listen to him and I would take his advice over any of the guest speakers I see on the website. Also a lot of the poeple who are on the website work for companies who are probably sponsoring the event in other ways. Undisclosed payola?

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from randfish 2236 Days ago #
Votes: -1

I’m debating whether to write a post about this. I’ve also been excluded from the SES shows, as have the other mozzers - Rebecca, Jane, etc.

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from Naoise 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 5

Wow talk about a sore sounding post, with comments turned off even. Don’t be fooled people, Mr. Gray is just very selectively presenting the 45 minute that IS a sponsored sessions session, and making it look like all of SES is sponsored. What about the rest of the day? Fundamentals Track Introduction to search engine marketing Conversion Track Converting Visitors Into Buyers Local Track Why is Local Different Advertising Track Ads in a Quality Score World (with Andrew Goodman, the ... Best man for it) Contextual Ads Track Domaining & Address Bar-Driven Traffic Orion Panel: Universal Search (with the PM of universal search from Google) Fundamentals Track Search Engine Friendly Design Conversion Track Landing Page Testing and Tuning Local Track Local Search Marketing Tactics Advertising Track Ad Copy & Landing Page Clinic Contextual Ads Track Earning Money from Contextual Ads Yeah.... barely anything else there at all eh Michael? ..... sheesh.

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from cre8pc 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Is there a difference between how much a speaker can self promote, depending on whether they are sponsored or not?

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from Oggy 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 5

Hey Mr. Gray, aren’t all the posts in your blog "sponsored"?  Guess the content in there is not worth seeing then huh?  Makes no sense....  sponsoring is what makes an event like this possible... and your blog. 

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: -1

From his post:Take a look at the agenda for day #2 between 3:15 and 4:30ScreenshotNotice something … each and every one of those 5 sessions is a sponsored session where an advertiser paid money to get on that panel and speak. The worst part is because SES NY stacked the deck, you as a conference goer can’t avoid them. In the tradition of Henry Ford “You can go to any session you want as long as it’s from a paid advertiser”.Honestly, I don’t see a stacking the deck or trying to say the entire show is like this in his post. He says the timeslot and points out a unique change in the SES agenda.You can certainly much agreement that Michael might have ignored this if he’d been asked to speak, and it’s just a sour grapes poke. But no, I don’t see him saying that an hour and fifteen minute timeslot entirely devoted to sponsored sessions means the entire program is that way.

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Also, those saying sponsors make an event possible. No, they don’t. Sponsors can help an event. I’m glad we have sponsors. But any event charging a lot for tickets, it’s the attendees themselves that make an event possible. It’s only low cost event where things are flipped. Our SphinnCons will be like this. We’ll likely evolve those similar to how the Search Engine Watch Live events used to be, where there’s a sponsored session, break, then a general panel. In that type of format, yep, you’re paying a minor fee, getting some commercial time (assuming you go, and it’s often good, useful commercial time), then some education and lots of networking. But it’s not a major investment (usually $100 or less). Sponsors are much more important in that type of event.

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Kim, typically with a sponsored session, the sponsor does whatever they want. A smart sponsor does not try to do some super self-promotional thing.On regular sessions, well, it depends on the show! I mean, no conference organizer I know of (including myself) wants a speaker up there pitching services. My advice to speakers for years has come directly off what Mikkel deMib Svensen did at a show ages ago. He put up a single slide, said here’s the sales stuff my marketing department wants you to know about, and now that’s done so here’s the good stuff.I loved it, and my guidelines when I drafted them for SES, then made fresh ones for SMX, suggest a single slide and spending less than a minute providing background on what you do, in particular to help people know why you are qualified to speak on a topic.If someone is very salesy, you bet, confernce organizers know about it. And with us, that’s going to mean you’re very unlikely to get invited back.

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from Oggy 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 1

May be true Danny, but SES and SMX are not "non-profit," so you have to assume that some of the panelists speaking have some way of "sponsoring the event."  They’re at least disclosing it.  Michael Gray has a "more than normal" amount of sponsored posts, links and advertising banners, so he shouldn’t be complaining.  I have nothing wrong with all of that if its well disclosed (at least in the white hat part of the interweb), but to do it and then complain because someone else does it?  Bahhh  very cranky attitude if you ask me.

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from Naoise 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Really Danny? He’s saying "they want to force conference attendees to sit through paid meatball sundae sales pitches"and"SES NY stacked the deck, you as a conference goer can’t avoid them"Maybe it’s okay when he pseudo-quotes someone else?"You can go to any session you want as long as it’s from a paid advertiser"The Pope Benny defence.... It wasn’t me speaking, I was quoting someone else!In my opinion it is intentionally misinformative by selective omission, and certainly doesn’t serve sphinn’s homepage well. Desphunn.

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Oggy, I won’t speak for Michael. But my impression is he’s not concerned that things are sponsored only that for one time slot, you have no choice but to either sit through something sponsored for find something else to entertain yourself with (a nap, the expo hall, a break), assuming you are not interesting in things that are sponsored at all.Panelists on non-sponsored sessions at SMX (which are the vast majority of our sessions that people pay to access) are not paying to be there. Not. Paying. To. Be. There. There’s nothing to disclose. They are on the panel because the conference chair or chairs, along with the session coordinators, have decided they have good useful information to share.People can and sadly do assume otherwise. That’s why we have the page I mentioned above. Frankly, I was shocked the first time someone told me they assumed all conferences have speakers that pay to speak. That’s not how I’ve ever done things, and when I heard it, I had to do a similar page for SES (when I was doing that) to make sure people understood programming was not done that way.

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Naoise, absolutely, feel free to disagree and desphinn. That’s what it’s there for.FYI, I’m heading offline for the night now (11pm my time), so any questions for me, I’ll respond tomorrow.

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from cre8pc 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Danny - Thanks Danny. I was just curious :)  Pleasant dreams.

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from dannysullivan 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Well, I’ll say one more thing before I go. I can’t stress enough that sponsored sessions can be really great and useful. I mean if you look at what’s slotted for SES NY, you’ve got three that immediately caught my eye:Bill Tancer from Hitwise. The guy’s awesome. I have no doubt people will learn tons.Tom, Scott and Jeff from Google Analytics and Website Optimizer. Again, lots I know will be good there.Jorie and Nathan from Microsoft. Nathan doesn’t even have a product that Microsoft sells, just cool free tools from Live Search Webmaster Central.That these are sponsored sessions doesn’t take the value away from them, not at all. It’s simply that no one’s tried to run an entire slot of sponsored sessions like this across an entire time slot, when you’d normally have some editorial sessions going on. Maybe attendees and sponsors will both love it. Who knows.

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from graywolf 2236 Days ago #
Votes: -4

all right more later as I stil have spotty inet todayam I miffed about not being invited umm yeah I hope that came through, I mean really it’s so much easier when everybody just says what they mean instead of worrying about offending somebody being politically correct all the timeFor people who somehow translated "day #2 between 3:15 and 4:30" into the whole day or worse yet whole conference ... ummm RTFM don’t put words in my mouth, or assume, you know what happens when you do I’ve got no problem with the "sponsored sessions" as concept but eliminating any other options is something new, and not something I think atendees are going to relish. Heck I’d say following Elisabeths advice and taking a nap would be the smartest thing to do ;-)@rand yeah we weren’t the only ones, I spoke to quite a few people at SMX who had go back after the fact and try to get on panels, not all were successful. Thata SES’s perogitive and they don’t owe me anything. However kinda interesting how I can "move the needle" on a show that hasn’t happened yet that I’m not going to be at ;-)@Naoise c’mon turning off comments on a contrevertial post post is a sure way to get people to link to you, c’mon linkbaiting 102 there ...@oggy not sure what higher than normal amount of sponsored posts is but whatever. There a difference from a commercial during a show and a 30 minute infomercial. People who advertise don’t author posts I do, when they are allowed to then it’s an apples to apples comparrison.

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from toprank 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 7

For people who have said they were "excluded", does that mean you filled out a SES speaker request form and were turned down?  Or are you saying you were exlcuded solely because you were not asked to speak? I ask because now all SES speakers have to fill out a speaker request form, even if they’ve done the session manny times before. There’s a difference between not being asked and not following their new process and clarifying as such might be useful to readers of this thread.The DMA and PRSA conferences that I speak at are mixed in this way. For some shows speakers have to pitch and for others the conference invites speakers. It varies by the conference. 

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from shansen11 2236 Days ago #
Votes: 1

In any effective busness model there is always the inevitable funding issue to make the deal work. The trick is finding the correct balance between the contract obligations to sponsors and to the real purpose of the conference which should be to get answers, information, creative approaches, best practices and connection with others doing what they do well.Thanks for the open discussion good and bad about the way things are. It is usually the beginning of change.

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from cre8pc 2235 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@shansen11 wrote "Thanks for the open discussion good and bad about the way things are."I agree.  I listened to Eizabeth, Danny, Michael and Lee especially, and feel this discussion opened my mind, answered some of my questions and soothed some of my concerns.

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from thejenn 2234 Days ago #
Votes: 5

Personally, the thing I find most interesting from this thread is the implication that the show is going to stink because there are a lot of new names on it. As if the moment conference organizers step outside the "inner circle" of SEO, they’re suddenly in the realm of unqualified speakers.Think about it folks. Everyone was "new" once. Rand Fishkin, Lee Odden, Jill Whalen, Mike Grehan, even Danny Sullivan were all once "unknowns." Did that mean they didn’t have anything worthwhile or interesting to say? That they had no potential to give a dynamic and informative presentation? Seriously?It’s a big world out there folks. I hit a tiny little show in Houston this past spring focused on social media. Featured speakers I’d never heard of before (and I read quite a few social media blogs). Guess what? About 75% of them were fantastic! Great insight, great speaking style, really REALLY great speakers. I have no doubt there’s quite a few folks out there just itching for their chance. The "known" speakers simply cannot hit each and every show that happens. I assume most of them do have lives and jobs to take care of. So, more shows means more opportunities for new speakers to get a chance to step into the lime light. Some will stink, some will be average and some will shine.But don’t ever assume a show is going to stink or a session will stink simply because you’ve never heard of the speaker.

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from lafmm 2234 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I am joining this conversation a bit late - been offline for a few days. Everything that needs to be said, I think has been said, except...@randfish -- you and your team have not been excluded from the SES events, in fact I invited Rebecca just last week.  Hope you all can make it. Please do not spread false rumors, it’s not appreciated.  

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from randfish 2234 Days ago #
Votes: 0

?? Matt - I’ll get in touch personally. I think there’s some miscommunication going on.

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from justin 2231 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Couldn’t agree with thejenn more.  Just because you’ve spoke in the past doesn’t mean that you should have the chance at every show. More than a few of the speakers that I’ve listened to from conference to conference haven’t even changed their slides.  I can read their tired dribble on the blogs if I want old tips & tricks.  I definitely don’t agree with the sponsored sessions all being during the same time.  It sounds like a good time for the attendees to do some sightseeing.

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from fliboy 2230 Days ago #
Votes: 0

OMMA-13 Sponsored SessionsSMX WEST-24 Sponsored SessionsMIXX-36 sponsored SessionsSES NY-5 Sponsored SessionsDonde es la problema???It’s part of the trade show biz, been that way in every industry since the beginning of time.  Why the freak out session now? If you don’t want to go to a sponsored workshop, visit the expo hall, network with your peers, take a nap.  At least SES is not running the sponsored sessions up against editorial content.  All of these event organizers clearly mark the sessions as "sponsored".  There really isn’t any hidden agenda here. 

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from Naoise 1742 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Poorly written reactionary fodder from someone feeling slighted for not being asked to speak at SES.

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