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Lee Odden

David Berkowitz & Gord Hotchkiss – Search Insider Summit Utah

By Lee Odden     Interviews, Marketing PR Conferences, Online Marketing, Search Insider Summit, Spotlight on Search

A whirlwind conference schedule winds up this year with Mediapost’s Search Insider Summit being held in Park City Utah at the Stein Eriksen Lodge Dec 12-15, 2007.  As part of our media sponsorship duties, I caught up with conference chair, David Berkowitz from 360i and the host/MC, Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro for a quick interview:

david-berkowitz.jpg gord-hotchkiss.jpg

Please tell us a little about yourself – a mini bio if you will.

David: I’m Director of Emerging Media and Client Strategy with 360i, the search-focused digital agency. I’ve been writing a weekly Search Insider column for MediaPost since it launched in mid-2004. For fun, I have my own blog at MarketersStudio.com, and I do a fair amount of speaking at industry events. It’s a great gig, especially with the clients I get to work with.

Gord: Search marketer, research fan, marketing pundit, columnist and Chair of SEMPO. And those are just my day jobs.

Search Insider Summit is a fairly new conference. How did you get involved and what is your current role?

David: This is the fourth conference in the past two years. I’ve been the program chair since it began, so I’ve had a hands-on role shaping the content and working with all the speakers, along with doing some speaking myself.

Gord: As a Search Insider columnist, I guess I’m amongst the “Usual Suspects” when it comes to being involved with the Summit. I hosted in the Spring in Florida, and I guess I’m back for a repeat performance in Park City. David tells me I’m also on the Advisory Board.

What will you be talking about at the upcoming event in Park City Utah? What’s top of mind for you right now when it comes to search?

David: I’ll be talking a lot less than usual, only appearing on one panel with the other Search Insider columnists, so it’ll be fun shutting up and learning something from the masters. What’s top of mind for me is how search and social media interact. I’m really excited for the sessions on Saturday, especially one on universal search, and I’m not just BSing you because you’re the moderator. With universal search, Google and the other engines are showing how social media optimization (SMO) becomes search engine optimization (SMO).

Gord: I wrote a column awhile back titled “Will Agencies ever Get Search? Don’t Hold Your Breath.” Rumor has it that I’ll be dragging that debate into a public forum on the opening day. I suspect there will be no quicker way to polarize the audience. I’m sure I’ll be touching on other topics as well during the show. Personally, I’m fascinated by how we use search as an extension of our own decision modeling.

Since were at the end of the year, can you make some predictions about search marketing in 2008? Is anything more notable that personalized and unified search in store for the way engines work (algorithmically)? What changes regarding paid search and social search do you see in store?

David: Unified or universal search is just getting warmed up, as is just about anything with social media optimization. With paid search, I don’t anticipate so many changes to it because what all of these new social media ad opportunities and other new models reveal is how hard it is to find anything more effective than search engine marketing. Granted, people are only searching so much of the time online, and the new models for when people are consuming content are getting much more sophisticated. I’m really curious to see if mobile search gains traction.

Gord: Ah..search predictions. Gotta love them. Well, we’ll see continued experimentation and testing with both personalized and unified search (and hopefully, we’ll come to agreement on the label we attach to it..unified..universal..3D..it’s getting really confusing). And I’m thinking mobile will see some significant changes in the coming year as well. My crystal ball is a little fuzzy.

From my previous experience, this event is strategically focused in it’s programming and there’s an abundance of networking opportunities. Who do you think is the ideal delegate for an event like this?

David: Ultimately, I think the ideal delegate is someone who’s dying to learn, and who will at least be coaxed into contributing given the chance. This is an event for someone hungry to explore not just what works but why it works. It’s someone who’s up for taking a ton of notes that they’ll turn into action items for their CMO or their agency.

Gord: Not sure who the ideal candidate is, because there’s a lot of territory being covered. I’d think the people who are looking at how to further integrate search into their own company’s bucket of best practices would find it useful. Also, the agency folks who are looking at how to expand their internal search practices will probably find a good fit. If nothing else, they can gang up and push me off a chair lift or down a luge run.

Since the event will be held at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, which will it be for you? Skiing or snowmobiling?

David: I’ve never skied but I’ll be willing to try the bunny slope. With snowmobiling, I’m in Manhattan and don’t drive much, but I’ve been playing Mario Kart 64 on the Wii during an occasional sanity break, and I’m not sure you want to see me behind the wheel of anything right now. I’m hoping there’ll be smores.

Gord: I’m from Canada. Snow is not something I’m going to be going out of my way to frolic in. Finding a location strategically located by the nearest fireplace sounds good, preferably with some type of hot drink in my hand.

Thanks guys! See you next week!

You can find more info about the Search Insider Summit on the registration or session schedule pages.


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