Paid Inclusion & Conference Speakers

Nearly anything that is trustworthy and profitable has cheesy scammy alternatives that follow the path they created. In many trades the associated conferences bring in more ad revenues than print ads

According to a report from American Business Media president & CEO, Gordon T. Hughes, the face-to-face events industry is a rapidly growing, critical part of today's integrated business media environment. Face-to-face revenue has surpassed that of its print counterpart for the first time: In 2006, business media trade shows accounted for 36% ($11.3 billion) of industry revenue; magazines accounted for 35%. Events are the third-fastest growing segment of business media, surpassed only by digital and custom media.

Simon Chen recently posted about how unimpressed he was with the pich fest that was the first day of Ken McCarthy's 2007 seminar:

You see, when you come to “trade shows” like these, the speakers (or Faculty) are featured and marketed as leading practitioners in their field. You would like to think that if folks are forking out good money on the actual tuition or entry fee, airfares, hotel accommodation, average coffee and time away from their family, that the seminar organiser would insist that his faculty deliver content.

But this is where the basic model of these events is flawed. You see, the speakers all need (or want) to be compensated. So their sessions are platforms whereby they are supposed to deliver content to the audience and then gently mention that there are options for investing with them - by either buying their product or service.

In true US capitalistic fashion, some presenters get carried away. Instead of following the creed Content Is King, they get out of the gate quickly and go straight into sales mode. Hard. Pushy. Aggro. All the things that are old sell.

That conference is well known and Simon said the second day was better, but even amongst good content providers there are people who sell without mercy and without intent to provide any value, which is sad.

As bad as that may be, some people take it one step further by creating conferences that actually charge the speakers to speak. Talk about guaranteed sketchy content!

Scams emulate the format and structure of things that are real. Any format has its associated ups and downs, but anything that is wildly successful will also have outlier questionable versions pop up.

Published: May 5, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


May 14, 2007 - 10:00pm

For Web Analytics Wednesdays in Sweden the following has been true:

* Participation has been free of charge
* Sponsors have NOT been allowed to bring banners, posters or marketing material

And then it was taken one step further:

* Sponsors were not allowed to speak. They could, however, bring one approved customer to speak. The customer was supposed to talk about the subject and not about specific systems or tools.

...and more. The rules clearly state that it's not a pitch fest.

We've had a very strict focus on participant value.

The example outlined about is a bit extreme, but food for thought.

Of course the gatherings were non-profit though...

Peter Davis
May 6, 2007 - 7:22pm

A lot of people tell me that the best reason for going to the conferences is to meet people. Since I can't really point to very many examples of learning great new things in the sessions I've attended at SEO conferences, I think I have to agree with that.

Thus, there are growing 'underground' networks of SEOs that are saving their time and money and building networks outside of the conferences.

I've got a monthly meetup in Boston that about two dozen of us get together in a local coffee shop and spend a few hours just talking about SEO.

Not that I'm soured on the conferences, but the local meetups are a far more effective use of my time, I think. And, at the end of the evening, I get to go home to my wife and kids instead of some empty hotel room.

May 7, 2007 - 3:36am

Thanks Aaron, for pulling back the curtain on this one in our industry. I was wondering what they were up to at the System Seminar this year.

BTW, the link is much less interesting than the one to Andrew Goodman's - The Day I Didn't Blink.

Be sure to read's archaic haloscan comments - gems in there too.

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