Another Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in the books!

Held at the Bell Harbor Int’l Conference Center on Seattle’s picturesque waterfront June 11th and 12th, SMX Advanced brought in hundreds of interested search practitioners – from paid search and SEO, in-house and agency teams, veterans and rookies – who packed the session rooms to hear from industry experts on topics ranging from Enhanced Campaigns, Product Listing Ads, and more.

I’ve spoken at a half dozen Search Marketing Expos over the years and the content this year was as comprehensive as any of the previous shows.  Renowned Googler, Matt Cutts, returned for his popular “You&A” keynote in which SEM veteran Danny Sullivan (who, along with Chris Sherman, is a conference co-chair and founding editor of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land) entertained the attendees while also pulling out great nuggets on Google’s ranking algorithm and other valuable information.   If you weren’t able to join us for this, Mark Traphagen from Virante posted a really great, virtual transcript here.

As always, the expo floor featured the very best of the search marketing industry vendors.  Here’s a picture of our booth with Kenshoo-ers Chris, Kat, and Sandeep:

kenshoo smx advanced 2013

My session, Big Data + Big Math = Exponential Search Performance, was completely packed.   Moderated by Sherman, I was joined by Dixon Jones, Director, MajesticSEO, James Mathewson, Global Search Strategy Lead, IBM, and Mike McMeekin, Director Advertiser Insights and Analytics, Microsoft. The theme of the session was using Big Data to enhance performance with search marketing.   Each of the presenters had a different take on the issue:

  • Jones showed how Big Data could be used in to change the way we view SEO.  As some engines begin to block more and more organic keywords from being passed to the site, search engine optimizers have to start looking at high level trends and new data points to provide context to these partial data sets.
  • Mathewson shared a case study of his own journey at IBM for a thought leadership campaign which used a combination of content marketing, search, and social to reach and engage their target audience.  The IBM team used Big Data to drive this program and ensure that each of the three tactics was helping and informing the other.
  • McMeekin had a very interesting presentation on how his Advanced Analytics and Insights team is able to tap into huge data sets on their backend to help their search marketer clients with things such as keyword building and ad testing.  He showed off some pretty neat screenshots of internal tools that aren’t yet available to the general public (but I’d love to get my hands on).

Whereas my three co-presenters offered compelling insights into Big Data at a high level, my presentation was a much more practitioner-focused presentation.  My goal was to demonstrate how every part of paid search is changing and can be enhanced when Big Data is applied.  The three main areas I covered included portfolio bidding, advanced measurement, and inventory driven campaigns.  I finished by sharing the features I think are important when marketers are evaluating Big Data tools. You can view the entire presentation on

Here’s a photo of me with my fellow “Big Data” panelists:

big data smx panel

The session went really well and there were thought-provoking questions from the audience during the Q&A portion.  At the cocktail party afterwards, I had many attendees not just approach to say good job but to also ask advanced questions about some of the themes I presented.  Everyone seemed very interested in the marginal ROI portion so I have to say thank you to Kenshoo Research Analytics Team Leader, Yossi Synnett, for those slides and this video where he walks through a live example of how marginal ROI is used in Kenshoo Portfolio Optimizer’s model-based bid policies.

Overall, it was a great time and an informative show.  Looking forward to attending the next one and sharing thoughts on even bigger data!