I was saddened to hear that the SES Conference is to close. I have to add however that I wasn’t entirely surprised.
Reality PR used to run the PR for the SES show when it was hosted by Matt McGowan. Many of its speakers were the A List as far as search was concerned – the likes of Danny Sullivan, Mike Grehan and Chris Sherman brought gravitas to the event, with a wealth of knowledge and search experience that businesses and delegates devoured. The exhibition floor was packed with exciting new and established businesses eager to show their latest wares in search marketing and related products.
Then in 2007 it changed. Danny and Chris announced that they were no longer going to speak at the event. Instead, they went on to form SMX. Search had been around long enough for people to want something more in depth and that’s what SMX was able to offer.
Sadly SES didn’t evolve. It stayed firmly on the first rung of the search marketing ladder, offering the same material and, in many cases, the same speakers. I went to the event every year and it became very predictable – the same three streams – beginner, intermediate and advanced, the same agenda and the same presenters. Attendance numbers fell each year and exhibitors started to cancel their regular stands. It was no longer a relevant show. The audience had moved on and sadly so had the sponsors. I used to walk around the floor chatting to the exhibitors and they would mostly tell me that the place is now full of vendors and the leads the show once generated were now few and far between. Yet the show still charged top dollar for the space. But still SES plodded on both SES here and around the world. It didn’t change its format or its content, it failed to listen to the feedback it received from delegates and sponsors and it was running at a loss. So, what was once a giant of the digital marketing circuit became a shadow of its former self and limped on until management decided to pull the plug. Such a shame. It used to be the highlight of the year for many and I certainly have great memories of the show in its glory days.