Let the other crazy kids brag about all the parties they went to while in NYC for SES. Frankly those are private events so you have to come out in person! (We will say the Internet Marketers Charity Party was a ball, though.)
No, the main thing PZ did while in New York was storm the hallways of the Hilton, doing our professional duty to spread the latest word about search ROI.
As anyone in our industry will tell you goes without saying, the people are some of the warmest and most genuine you'll ever meet.
This year's SES New York was particularly rewarding from that standpoint. Along with getting to know several people better - yes, even people I already knew, like Kevin Ryan and Rory Brown, along with new faces (to me) like Pauline Ores, the social media expert at IBM - the week was fantastic.
But particular special mention has to go out to my friends Bryan Eisenberg and Larry Chase. Prior to SES, Larry hosted a dinner at one of his favorite haunts in Manhattan, where we got a chance to network with several new people as well as old gurus. Larry's tales of a long-ago trip across Canada, running out of money, and working his way across the prairies and the Rockies, were particularly fun. (That's Mona Elesseily and me deciding what to order.)
As anyone hanging around in the speaker room (Tim Ash, Li Evans, Rory Brown, Matt McGowan) knows from the leftovers they scarfed down, Bryan kidnapped a few of us and took us on a little walking tour of Brooklyn, complete with genuine delicious Brooklyn pizza. Search people are nothing if not authentic.
At Search Engine Strategies New York this week I had the opportunity to model a panel on the latest with buying contextual ads with particular focus on the top contextual programs through Google, Yahoo, IndustryBrains, and a couple of others.
One of the most fascinating was by a major cable television network that uses low-cost, broadly-based terms to drive traffic keying on all kinds of current pop culture related content. It's an actively managed campaign that requires constant innovation to stay ahead of the curve. What's so interesting about it is how cost-effective this is as a way of generating buzz, if you get the tone right. It's basically using online media to deflect user attention back into the media vortex, in a subtle manner.
The two main economic benefits stated by the panelist were:
* Low-cost awareness-building for their flagship hit programs;
* Traffic arbitrage, sometimes breaking even or better on the ad inventory they show on their own sites.
Let me repeat that again. In a world where we've suddenly been conditioned to believe that PPC arbitrage is wrong, this marketing executive unabashedly admitting to doing it.
This paralleled my own presentation the same week, on how Google currently measures site and landing page quality. In short, I wanted to make clear that you could technically call a lot of the media companies advertising on Google "arbitragers," because they know the rough CPC's and effective CPM's on their ad campaign with Google, and they know the rough payback on an impression basis from their already sold inventory. So in fact the distinction is not a literal one, where you point a finger at someone making a profit on a media buy/sell and call it evil; rather, Google's quality scoring formula aims to disincentivize certain advertisers from offering deceptive or particularly annoying user experiences as defined by user input and user behavior. In an upcoming column I'll look more at the distinctions between "arbitrage," "nearbitrage," and "garbitrage."
In short, to have an exec admitting to arbitrage is not scandalous. If they have advertising on their site, and are buying ads to drive to that site, anyone could have figured it out anyway. That's what they're doing. As a bonus, they get cheap promotion for their TV lineup. And some publishers get paid too. Win-win-win.