Incisive Media To Kill SES Brand, Rename Conference “ClickZ Live”
SES — formerly Search Engine Strategies — is about to undergo another name change, this time to “ClickZ Live.” The news comes from an email that Incisive Media sent to various contributors.
From the email:
Tomorrow is a big day for ClickZ and its sister brands Search Engine Watch and SES, and as our valued contributors, we wanted you to hear our big news first. In a natural transition that recognizes the ever-evolving changes taking place in the digital marketing industry and the more diverse educational needs of today’s marketing community, our global SES Conference and Expo series, will be changing its name and rebranding to ClickZ Live.
But what’s in a name I hear you ask? The shiny new ClickZ Live series will be an extension of ClickZ and will incorporate all the many verticals that you can find in our online publication, including social media, display, mobile, gaming, email, digital TV advertising and marketing, and more. As the digital landscape has changed and content marketers have come to expect more beyond just search marketing (SEO & PPC), we too wanted to align ourselves with this evolution. And consolidating the content between our current sessions at SES, along with the breadth of knowledge and topics found online at ClickZ.com, under just one brand makes perfect sense.
2014 is going to be an exciting year ahead for more innovation in digital marketing. As companies and their people continue to change the way they consume media and create and share content, brand new opportunities will emerge. And with these industry developments will be ClickZ, as ever, at the forefront, bringing you the information as it happens both online and at our conferences. We can’t wait to have you there with us!
SES: The First Search Conference
Search Engine Strategies began as the first conference devoted to search engine marketing, back in 1999. I remember it well, because I created the series for Internet.com, which then owned Search Engine Watch — the site I founded. (In fact, the first show happened exactly 14 years ago today, as Greg Boser reminded me).
Incisive Media purchased Search Engine Strategies, Search Engine Watch and ClickZ in 2005. I left in December 2006 to begin Search Engine Land and started up the rival Search Marketing Expo conference series that had its first show the following year, in 2007.
Around 2008, Search Engine Strategies changed its name to SES Conference & Expo, in what I assume was an attempt to broaden its audience beyond search. From my perspective, that didn’t work. The show, which had its highest attendance of over 8,000 people for the last SES New York 2007 show that I produced, was claiming about half that attendance for the SES New York show of 2012.
The renaming seems a doubling-down on the attempt to revive the conference series by positioning it as going beyond search. It also comes as Incisive Media is being said by Bloomberg to position itself for sale. Earlier this year, there was a similar report from The Media Briefing that said the company would either be sold or have parts sold off. This follows from Incisive having to restructure because of debt in 2009, losing its ALM operations as part of that move.
As for Search Engine Watch, I get the impression it won’t be changing its name.
History Of SES
For more background on the history of both Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch, see my past posts below:
- Happy 10th Birthday, Search Engine Watch – A History Of The Site
- 10 Year Retrospective: Search Engine Strategies To SMX: Search Marketing Expo
Having started SES, there’s a part of me sad to see the name go. But the show long-ago abandoned being devoted to search, and heck, I bailed from the brand over five years ago myself.
For those who do want a show that’s heavily focused on search marketing, our SMX series keeps running. We do have one single show that’s not focused on search — our SMX Social Media Marketing event that happens in Las Vegas tomorrow.
Maybe someday we’ll have to consider a name change, if our events get more diverse. But we’re pretty happy having the majority of them staying focused on the biggest element of online marketing spend, search. We bring in related disciplines as they make sense, but we still go deep on search.
Postscript by Barry Schwartz: Incisive Media has confirmed the branding change in a blog post on Tuesday, November 19th.
Postscript by Danny Sullivan (April 15, 2014): Mike Grehan, who oversaw programming of the event, unexpectedly stepped down the day before ClickZ Live actually happened, as discussed in this Webmaster Radio show. Two weeks after the move, ClickZ acknowledged it with an official post. The post also called the rebrand an overall success, saying it attracted more than 2,000 attendees. Assuming there really were that many people there, the rebrand failed to reverse any of the losses since 2008. Based on Incisive’s own figures, ClickZ Live was about one-third the size of SES at its height and the smallest show Incisive has run in New York, since it purchased the conference series.
Postscript by Danny Sullivan (May 15, 2014): See our follow-up story, After Killing SES, Incisive Media Seems To Think “OMG” & Tries To Bring It Back.