'Technology for Marketing and Advertising' was a buzzing expo which took place in West London

The vibes at two online marketing events in the last week couldn’t be further apart with Technology for Marketing and Advertising proving to be a runaway success and Search Engine Strategies a damp squid.

On the way back to the office in central London from visiting our client Purple Parking at Heathrow, I stopped at Earls Court for TFM&A. I am always hungry to keep up with the latest developments in the industry and thought it would be useful to stroll around TFM&A, the UK’s annual showcase for the latest and greatest technology to make marketer’s lives easier and boost ROI.

The event filled a huge conference hall at Earls Court 2 and there were dozens of exhibitors selling software and solutions to handle data and content management, email marketing, e and m-commerce marketing, and the forth.

There was a impressive range of free seminars, albeit most being a tad salesy and not particularly enlightening, with 10 each on Database Marketing & Marketing Analytics; Online Advertising & Affiliate Marketing; Email, Mobile, Web 2.0; and CRM and Customer Experience. The latter featured the usual hypocrites preaching about the need to provide quality customer care while flogging solutions that make it increasingly difficult for customers to receive support from human beings, which survey after survey has proven everybody wants, and having as their biggest clients companies whose idea of telephone support is keeping “valued customers” hanging onto premium rate lines for half an hour before forwarding them to staff in India who don’t know what they are doing.

All in all, though, with 7,060 visitors in two days, an increase of 54% over the previous year, TFM&A has secured its place as a ‘must visit’ event for corporate marketers wishing to keep up with technological developments in digital marketing.

'Search Engine Strategies' - the sights and sounds of the event in London, England

Search Engine Strategies is the event for search marketing nuts in the United States and has developed a cult following since the first one in San Francisco in November 1999. I couldn’t wait to attend SES London a few days after TFM&A, which was advertised as Europe’s largest gathering of search marketing professionals.

Ather Mehdi of Azam Marketing studies the agenda for SES London in February 2008Me and my colleague Ather (web design and SEO supremo – pictured on the right) entered the Business Design Centre at Angel full of anticipation half way through the first day of the three day conference and expo. Our excitement turned to disappointment as we trundled into the venue hall. Had there been a fire-drill which had emptied the venue? A radon gas leak that had forced everybody to dart out of the venue down to the tube station? Nope… apparently the one man and his dog we were confronted with were more or less all the attendees at SES London.

Despite the distinct lack of atmosphere, Ather and I made the most of the occaision by enjoying valuable discussions with the exhibitors which included Wordtracker, Doubleclick, Hitwise and Efficient Frontier. It didn’t take us long to go through the exhibition hall, though, as there was only about 15 exhibitors.

I can’t put my finger on why SES London was such a non-event when SEM is where it’s all been happening for the last few years and the event boasted several mouthwatering speakers. Maybe Brendon Scott has the answer: I was chatting to him this morning and he said it could be the hardcore search marketers are too advanced for SES and those who would find it worthwhile were not aware of it.

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