SESSJ – View from the Exhibit Hall

This is my first San Jose-based Search Engine Strategies where I was an exhibitor rather than attendee.  It was an interesting experience – especially since I only attended one session. Instead of live blogging it (my laptop was in use at the booth), I took GASP hand-written notes. By the way – it was a great session, and is covered by MarketerInsight – which saves me the trouble of trying to understand my handwriting.

The first thing I noticed was that the exhibit hall seemed pretty empty. There were several booth spaces that were uninhabited, with one or two having signs that were removed just before the show started. For those of you who have lived the exhibitor life, you’re familiar with the long white paper signs that signify your 10 x 10 part of the show floor. That’s a pretty expensive sign, actually – and depending on the show, can run upwards of $10k or more. If you make that kind of investment to exhibit, there must be a real reason why you wouldn’t show up, right?

The next thing I noticed was that there were a lot more industry niche specialists attending SES. It’s really interesting since SEO was a niche specialty less than a decade ago. Maybe I wasn’t aware of the trend to specialize by industry, but it became really clear as I talked to people at the PRWeb booth.

Speaking of talking with people at the booth – the traffic was steady and contacts were very engaged. It has been my experience at previous SES SJ shows that many people in the exhibit hall were tchotchke-seakers: those collecting pens, pads, rubber frogs and tee shirts from every booth while laughing off the booth staff. Not this year. Few of the attendees were just seeking freebies – although many were asking about special offers for show attendees.

And I couldn’t say anything about Search Engine Strategies San Jose without bringing up Search Bash. Brandy and team at Webmasterradio.fm out did themselves again this year! The Alice in Wonderland theme, characters, music and basic party chi were all superb.  Li Evans AKA StorySpinn has a great collection of photographs of Search Bash 2009 on Flickr.