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2006 ASIDIC Conference Roundup Notes

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 7 years and 333 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

The ASIDIC conference was a completely new experience for me. It gave me a chance to get outside my comfort zone in the world of search and try to soak up some of the cutting edge information in an entirely new field. The conference gave off a bit of the same vibe that the music industry must have felt shortly after the reign of Napster began. MP3′s were “good enough”, and so is Google in many instances. I’m sure premium content will make out just fine, but the shifts in distribution and consumption within the marketplace has caused a chasm that many will fall into. It will also create a lot of opportunity, as folks in the music industry have established with the increase of music consumption. The experience of focusing on distribution models was quite eye opening, and inspired many ideas that will definitely come in handy for future ventures.

As a brief aside – If I’ve misquoted anyone in the upcoming posts of notes – please let me know, and I will make changes – Also feel free to point me in the direction of any presentations, notes, or other pertinent information that I may have missed in my mess of links – this was my first attempt at blogging a conference, and I have rekindled respect for Barry, Chris, Ben, Lee, Mike and the rest of the SEO/SEM bloggers that cover conferences. This was TOUGH – and I’m two weeks late on posting!

I have a whole new appreciation for those just getting into the world of search that are attending their first conference and trying to understand the acronyms and vernacular that is a part of our world. I was completely overwhelmed trying to disseminate the informational nuances of the world of ASIDIC. I already posted my question of “what is federated search”, after being surprised that I was so unaware of this terminology. Being an information junkie, I was overwhelmed with a tidal wave of new terminology, jargon, and ideas that overcame me from being exposed to a new type of thought process.

The ASIDIC conference was opened by program chair and local host, Frank Bilotto with his comments on “The Future is Now … or Never”. I had met Frank returning from SES in San Jose, and we had an engaging conversation on the world of premium content publishers, and how they were just not yet adapting to new search technology because of their fairly rigid views. While I do often encounter resistance to the opportunities that search affords its advocates, I don’t spend nearly as much time trying to preach to the unconverted. I do, however, enjoy try to understand the views and beliefs that these fears stem from.

I realized about halfway through the first day that I had been, in fact, recruited to be an instigator of discussion in the world of ASIDIC after Frank realized just how passionate I was about search and the opportunities that the new media offers businesses that embrace it (Frank did not deny this fact when I confronted him on it). Now anyone that knows me can tell you that I am probably one of the least combative people you will ever come across, and these days I rarely find incentive in extolling the virtues of search engine optimization since I am already currently more than overwhelmed with work as a one man operation. I think Frank knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist this debate, however, and that my non-sales pitch approach would probably be a good fit.

When I saw the insane amount of opportunity available to some of these publishers that they were in some cases completely overlooking it seemed the equivalent of a famished man right around the corner from a free all you can eat super buffet, not willing to get up and see what’s around the corner while complaining about everyone else eating so well. These companies are hardly famished, but the lack of experimentation among a group of such intelligent people was pretty astounding to me. I think part of the resistence to change, is that many of these company’s have had google’s technology decades before google did. The technology doesn’t inspire them, and they are still grasping just how important the marketing and critical mass is to the major search engines success (due highly in part to their differentiation in distribution model).

As Elisabeth and I sat and ran the “site commands” on several of the sites of these large companies we were shocked by these missed opportunities. I got the impression that many of the folks were so averse to the perceived “black magic” of search optimization that they had completely overlooked fundamentals of indexing and the unique opportunities that were available to them by simply making a larger portion of their content accessible to the major engines. It was very frustrating to see this vast availability of opportunity being so seriously underutilized.

Throughout the conference, I kept coming back to the level of forward thinking displayed by one company from the premium content publishing world that HAD embraced the field of search engine marketing, ThomasNet. Paul Gerbino, a VP from Thomas publishing spent a bit of time discussing how his company had embraced the web with Frank Bilotto. The company has made an amazing shift from print to electronic, that must have been an extremely difficult sell for the advocates of change.
It seemed to me that there are a few key questions to be answered by the large publishers as the demand to threats from lower overhead digital media providers becomes stronger. Most critical among these will be: Where should the registration and subscription “walls” be placed? (certainly much lower than they are now in my mind), How will we transition those digital emigrants, and how long do we leave our legacy systems in place? What are the actual threats that the new medium creates, and how do we overcome them? What opportunities for new revenue models does this new medium provide? How can we effectively track information about our users? How can we better determine what our users want? How do we more effectively monetize those needs?

Overall, it was fascinating for me to see how this industry was structured. It took me outside my comfort zone and gave me the ability to think from a brand new perspective – mainly from those most affected by the changes associated with search technology. I feel like I just got a brief glimpse into another world, but it is certainly something I will continue to research. Content may be king – but accessibility to that content and finding new models for the monetization of information will be the only things that keep it from being free by adding a unique new sort of expertise and organizational value. Some content (like how to bandage a wound) needs only to be “good enough”, where other content (how to perform open heart surgery) must be very precise. Expertise, credibility, and organization is what separates “good enough” from premium. The prevalence of “good enough” information has shaken the premium content industry to its core, but also serves to only increase the overall value of expert information and reducing the noise level.

I would like to say a special thanks to everyone whose discussions have provided me with new reading and writing inspiration for quite a long time to come, and offer a huge thank you to all the friendly, brilliant new people that I met, and especially to Frank Bilotto for giving me the opportunity to experience the ASIDIC world. It was a very pleasurable experience that I won’t forget for quite a while to come. To find out more information about attending an ASIDIC conference or becoming an ASIDIC member – you can visit their website at www.asidic.org

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  • http://greenaffiliate.blogspot.com greenaffiliate

    Hi Todd,
    This was an interesting read….but can I ask a stupid question:

    What do you mean by “site commands” ? I’m picturing that you used google and looked at site:www.blabla.com link:www.blabla.com were there others or am I completely missing the point?
    thanks,
    Liz

  • http://www.stuntdubl.com Stuntdubl SEO

    >site:www.blabla.com

    Yep…that’s totally it Liz…

    Pretty much just seeing what from a given site was indexed. It never ceases to amaze me how poorly some sites are indexed…especially on large corporate websites.

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