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SEMPO in 2006: Moving Forward and Looking Ahead

Wakefield, MA, September 1, 2006 - What's new with SEMPO? Find out as we talk with the Dana Todd, current President of SEMPO and Gord Hotchkiss, Chairperson of the SEMPO Board of Directors, to find out about the exciting new initiatives and research projects happening this year and in the future. We'll cover click fraud, state of the industry, training, standards, global expansion and our annual State of the Search Marketing industry survey - the most comprehensive survey of the industry.

Where is SEMPO now?

SEMPO is a non-profit independent industry group comprised of search marketers around the world, with an expanding membership of service providers and corporate search marketing professionals. Now in its third year, SEMPO has over 400 member companies in 22 countries, and has made a significant name for itself as the voice of SEM.

SEMPO Moving Forward and Looking Ahead Summary

On the 1st of September 2006, Cindy Turrietta and Brooke Schumacher interviewed Dana Todd, President of SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization) and its chairperson Gord Hotchkiss. The search industry has shown phenomenal growth from the time of its inception three years back- growing from, as Dana describes "being a mere 1% of someones marketing budget, to search now controlling 40% of the overall marketing spend”. In this show, Gord and Dana discussed the initial problems faced by SEMPO, the successful initiatives launched by it and what SEMPO aims to achieve in the near future.

Where Is SEMPO now?

In the first segment Cindy started with the question what is SEMPO? Dana informed listeners that SEMPO is a non profit independent industry group comprising of search marketers around the world. SEMPO has an expanding membership which includes service providers and corporate search marketing professionals from around the world. Dana explained how she and Gord were part of the founding group and how a lot of credit for creating SEMPO goes to Barbara Coll of Web Mama.

A lot of web marketers used to get together at the end of SES every year and would discuss how nice it would be to have this organization that would introduce people outside the circle of search to the amazing ways in which search can be utilized. However, nothing materialized until Barbara Colt finally called a meeting. By the end of that night, there were 14 people left in the room who said "Okay, we are going to make this happen!

When asked who SEMPO serves, Gord stated that according to its mission statement, SEMPO is about building an inclusive community and expanding the boundaries of that community to include more and more growth. SEMPO has a diverse group of members such as traditional marketers and brand advertisers. As a result, SEMPO has grown from being more of a promotional vehicle to a community builder; building communication channels and helping with education.

Gord gave a wonderful description of what search marketing really is saying, "…it is like dancing on quick sand”. Search marketing is a dynamic industry that where if you don’t keep up with the new trends and make the necessary changes, you sink, and you sink fast. Dana agreed, saying "The thing that makes us search marketers unique is that we are mavericks. We are always on the cutting edge. We’re always looking for the next thing and trying new things. We have to be very flexible because you can’t ride this wild pony for more than 3 weeks without realizing that you will have to give up your whole way of thinking”.

SEMPO's Landmark Initiatives

In the second segment, Dana and Gord discussed SEMPO’s triad of initiatives and the main projects that SEMPO has recently announced. Gord explained to viewers that SEMPO redid its mission statement and decided on new initiatives by finding out what was important to the members through surveys and one on one conversations.

Using this method, the management identified three priorities and called them "power and influence, information and relationships”. Gord revealed the aim of the first part of the triad i.e. power and influence, was to "extend SEMPO to make it to make it a more inclusive community and to expand our membership into areas like the brand marketers, in-house marketers and large traditional agencies and continue to use the media through an outreach program…The media can also use SEMPO to crystal ball a bit about what is happening in the future. That is a key initiative and one we have been working on for the last several months.”

The second and third parts of the triad i.e. information and relationships was described by Gord as being an inclusive initiative that covers the use of the SEMPO website, continuing use of SEMPO’s own publications and newsletters and also creating partnerships with other well regarded publications like Clickz, Mediapost, Marketing Sherpa etc to get reliable and up to date information.

SEMPO’s Own SEM Nightmare

Not all is rosy at SEMPO and in the third segment Cindy and Brooke asked about the bad press SEMPO received. Initially, SEMPO faced some pretty serious criticism by bloggers and had a very negative search engine reputation. Some of these critics were even members of SEMPO. Overcoming this was difficult and even more difficult was carving out a reputation of some standard after the bad press. On this Dana said, "we called it our own search engine marketing nightmare” because, ironically "as search professionals we teach people about their search engine marketing reputation i.e. what do you look like when you type your name into a search engine.

Gord felt that the actual issue was lack of understanding of what the organization was, what is mandate was and what it was there to do. Different members had different opinions. The members who were initially critical have now started to work with the organization rather than against it. According to Gord, this is a part of evolution.

Focusing on the third part of the triad, that is the relationships, Gord said that one of the main things all the members want is a stronger and more proactive relationship with the search engines i.e. Google, Yahoo and MSN etc.

Living Our Promises

In the fourth segment, Dana and Gord were led to talk about living out their promises and discussed the future of the organization.

Gord explained to listeners that with any new industry there is a need for standards and till now the search engine marketing community has let the search engines define the standards. In the past the search engines defined the standards in a way that was fairly insular to them. There is a change needed now, where the advertising community wants standardization across the board so that they can do ‘apples to apples comparisons with different campaigns across different channels’.

The second goal SEMPO wants to achieve is to extend their global reach and engage international members. People who are members of SEMPO will have ‘a seat at the table that will define what this industry will become’. SEMPO puts the views of its members in front of the publishers and that helps influence the shape of the industry.

Dana added that the three major areas SEMPO will be focusing on this year are the click fraud research, the development of a training program and a standards task force.

All in all, this will be a very eventful year for SEMPO and their future looks bright.

About the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO)
SEMPO is a global non-profit organization serving the search engine marketing industry and marketing professionals engaged in it. Its purpose is to provide a foundation for industry growth through building stronger relationships, fostering awareness, providing education, promoting the industry, generating research, and creating a better understanding of search and its role in marketing. SEMPO represents the common interests of more than 450 companies and consultants worldwide and provides them with a voice in the marketplace.


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