SAScon 2012 Interview with Pete Young

Last week we ran a series of blog interviews for the up-and-coming search conferences and events, including SMX London, International Search Summit, BrightonSEO and ionSearch – today we look at SAScon, with answers from co-organiser Pete Young.

SAScon has quickly grown into a key UK industry event – when starting out did you ever see this as the plan? And are there any further plans to expand this moving forward? The original concept round Sascon was to deliver a complete search engine marketing and social marketing conference which could compete against established conferences such as Search Engine Strategies and SMX – but do this in the regions rather than in London which is where a number of the more established conferences tend to be. At the end of the day there are some fantastic search and social marketeers in the regions and some great work being done here, and thus it seemed a shame not to take advantage of it. Moving forward there are plans to take Sascon to a far wider audience, outside of just the UK. At the end of the day, search and social marketing are still growing perhaps even faster outside of the UK and it would be great to take the Sascon brand to more people. Further to that being involved in the Search Awards (of which there are the European Search Awards in Amsterdam on the 5th July – is allowing us to show case much of the good work many search businesses are doing and taking both the awards and the Sascon brands to a far bigger audience.What are the main sessions you’re looking forward to seeing yourself? Given that I helped put alot of the panels together thats a difficult one to answer as I think all of them have their own strengths but on a personal note I always enjoy watching Martin McDonald speaking and his panel with Jon Quinton should be particularly interesting – not to mention I am moderting :). Also looking forward to seeing how some of the new panel frameworks come together as we have tweaked some of the panels a bit to encourage more debate not just from the panelists themselves but from the wider audience as well.With SAScon standing for “Search, Analytics and Social Media conference” how do you think the integration between these disciplines has changed during the last 6-12 months? I think one only has to look at the Google search results to see just how much the landscape has changed recently. Search and social are now so integrated as Google looks to evolve beyond a pure search player. This in itself is bringing its own challenges. Changes to the way they parse data for example has implications not just for SEO’s but for paid search marketeers as well – and the integrated picture becomes a far more complicated beast than it was 12 months ago. That is something I am looking forward to seeing come out of Sascon – how people are embracing these challenges and making them work in this new environment.What do you think have been the biggest game changers in search during the last 6 months and should be the key takeaways from the event? Personally, I would have to say the integration of social and the personalisation aspects this has allowed Google in particular to integrate into our results have been a particular challenge. The one size fits all approach is no longer applicable and we are now having to think multi channel , multi touch points to ensure we make our sites and content as visible as possible. Further to that the complexities caused by the data or lack of it that Google allow us is another issue that has caused a number of late nights as we look to highlight to advertisers the impact and effect of our work on what we know is a viable marketing channel.And lastly, why should people attend the event? I noticed a mix of sessions which focus on in-house strategies, plus verticals such as retail and gaming – what type of audience do you expect to be attending? We are trying to create an event that caters for all. The modern day search conference landscape is increasingly competitive with some great conferences such as Think Visibility already well established over in Leeds. For that reason we have to cater for a slightly different audience, and in particular we have looked to engage with client side marketeers – who sometimes I think dont get the value out of due to the high agency side involvement in many events. Further to this, we want to create a legacy. Sascon is a not for profit event. When myself, Nicky Wake (from Dont Panic), Richard Gregory (from Latitude), Simon Wharton (from Pushon), Peter Cobley (Home James), Richard Hudson (Vanilla Storm)  and Ben McKay started on this road we did it because we wanted to give something back to the community and create something that really did provide value to the industry. None of that has changed…..

If you haven’t signed up yet, you really should – SAScon is a great event packed full of great sessions/presentations for a mix of skills and I’m excited to be speaking there again this year – see the full agenda here.

Kevin Gibbons is Founder/Director of Strategy at SEOptimise. Kevin is well known within the search industry as a blogger for sites such as Search Engine Land, Econsultancy and Search Engine Watch. Kevin is also a frequent SEO speaker at a number of conferences including Search Marketing Expo (SMX), Search Engine Strategies (SES), a4uexpo, SAScon and BrightonSEO.

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