As I wrote a few days ago, SphinnCon came to Israel this week on February 5 in the form of SphinnCon Israel. It turns out that this wasn’t only the first SphinnCon in Israel, but it was the first SphinnCon ever! So, this is yet another example of a first for Israel, kind of like how the first WordPress conference, WordCamp, to take place outside of the US took place in Israel.
I took extensive notes at each session, which I had planned to live-blog but couldn’t due to a minor technical difficulty: no wireless internet. I will post the summaries over the next few days, but in the meantime, here is a summary of the entire event, and some related links:
Sphinn is pronounced Spin
One of the most important lessons from this conference was that Sphinn is actually not pronounced Sfin, but Spin. Go figure.
Google sent greeting video from Dublin
After Barry Schwartz’s introductions, we got to see a video sent specially to us from Google in Dublin. Alon, the Google rep in the video, tells us how excited he is that SphinnCon has come to Israel, and he gave us an SEO tip straight from the Google guidebook: write good content. I can see how that tip is in Google’s interest, since they would love the web to be a big database of useful information that users are searching for, but after this conference it seems that there are a few other things you can do to promote your site too.
Anyways, here’s the video (Hebrew):
The food was delicious
I don’t know who the caterer was, but the food was great and plentiful. Did I hear you scoff? Food is important, excuse me.
This was a test event for something bigger next year
SphinnCon Israel was an attempt to test the waters to get an idea of the potential interest in a bigger SEO conference on the scale of SMX next year in Tel Aviv. From what I could see and from what the organizers told me, SphinnCon Israel was a huge success. The registration for the 165 spots quickly filled up, and they added another 15 seats, and were still getting requests from people to join! They barely advertised, and yet word-of-mouth spread the news quite quickly and widely.
In addition, the event succeeded despite the fact that it took place in Jerusalem. Don’t get me wrong – I love Jerusalem. But most technology-related events take place in Tel Aviv, which is the heart of Israel’s hi-tech sector. Tel Avivians aren’t big fans of coming to Jerusalem, and yet they came in droves, and more would have come if there had been room.
So hopefully this all means that we can look forward to a really great event next year!
The panels were excellent
There were three panels:
- SEO Panel: Paid Links & Penalties
- PPC Panel: Will the PPC Model Hold Up as Click Prices Rise?
- Social Panel: Should You Social?
I thought that the panels were done really well. Each panel began with a short presentation by one panelist, and then the rest of the session was made up of Q&A. This was a great format since it kept people’s attention, and ensured that the audience learned about issues that really interested them. I learned a lot, and the panels helped me take my jumble of knowledge on SEO and make some order of it, which I appreciated.
I didn’t go to the After Hours Party in Tel Aviv, but I’m sure it was nice too.
We got free t-shirts that said “The First SphinnCon Evar”
Yes, “Evar.” I think someone forgot to do a spell-check.
There were women in the audience…
Yes, the “no women on the panels” issue again. The organizers explained to me that they really tried to get women on the panels. I really don’t blame them for this. It seems to be a global problem: Jeremiah Owyang wrote about it recently on his blog, and the comments reflect the depth of the problem. See, for example, Lena West who says:
I simply DO NOT BUY the story that conference organizers give when they say there are no women available. I know how the game works. These â€˜organizersâ€™ ask the other speakers for recommendations and men refer other men. Thatâ€™s the deal. I just spoke at an event in Miami and I recommended three of the speakers. Heck, it makes a very busy job easier to just go on recommendationsâ€¦why wouldnâ€™t they?
Ok, nuf about that.
Related Links and Resources:
These links will help you get a picture of what the conference was like:
Panel Presentations (available for download in PDF format on the SphinnCon Israel page)
SphinnCon Israel 2008 Recap – this post has links to most of the blogs that wrote about the conference, and most of the flickr photos.
British Yosef’s photos (really professional)
Jerusalem College of Technology
The event organizers:
Third Door Media
Videos (from YBO Interactive):
(Top photo from British Yosef’s photos.)
SphinnCon Israel is sold out! SphinnCon Israel is a SphinnCon networking event focused on search and internet marketing, and is taking place this coming Tuesday, February 5 at the Jerusalem College of Technology (also known as Machon Lev). This event is exciting thanks to the incredible lineup, with representatives from well-known international companies like Google, TechCrunch, Kenshoo and Yedda (see my previous interview with Yedda’s Lior Haner, who will be speaking at the conference), and thanks to the location: Jerusalem! For once I don’t have to schlep to Tel Aviv for a great event, and I am thrilled.
There are also some really interesting reps from lesser-known but really professional Israeli companies: Tzvika Avnery will be there from Tagadam; Tzvika is a pro in the social media sphere and his company develops apps for social networks, among other things. Eli Feldblum from RankAbove will be there too; Eli is actually pretty well-known in the SEO world for his expertise, and his company services clients from all over the world. I’m mentioning these guys because I know them, but I hope I’ll get to meet the others on the panels too.
The main guy behind the whole thing is Barry Schwartz, the Executive Editor at Search Engine Roundtable, and President of RustyBrick, “a Web services firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales.”
Here is the speaker list as from Barry’s latest post on the event at Search Engine Roundtable:
Here’s what’s not cool: not a woman in sight on the speaker list. Not one. It’s a celebration of testosterone. I’m not against testosterone, but it would be nice if it was toned down a bit by at least one representative from the other 51% of the human race. And it’s not like there aren’t impressive women in the industry: how about Tamar Weinberg, who works at Rusty Brick and writes the amazing Techipedia blog? Or Tzvika Avnery’s partner at Tagadam, Orly Izhaki, who has a really impressive background in web-related ventures, and writes at smo.co.il (Hebrew)? Don’t tell me they were unavailable as an excuse. I’m sure there’s at least one woman in the web industry who could have been available.
Anyways, I’m really looking forward to this event, and I’ll hopefully fill you all in on how it goes. If they have internet access, I may even Twitter and live-blog the event like a good lil’ social media geek should.
Social media is hot. It’s what VCs are investing in, and bright entrepreneurs are looking for investment in.
It seems to me like there are three groups involved in this brave new world of media:
- The new New Media companies that are popping up every minute, each hoping to be the next MySpace or the latest hottie, Facebook.
- The people who use existing platforms to create and lead a community: the bloggers, the Ning community builders, the forum managers, etc.
- The audience: those who join the communities, forums, etc. and enjoy the ease with which they can publish online.
Group 1 wants to make money. Group 2 also wants to make money, although there are many out there who create communities around blogs or other media for casual purposes. Group 3 wants to have fun.
So how are Group 1 and Group 2 planning on making money? 99% of them are betting on ad revenues. I am continuously exposed to business plans as well as existing sites that, once they finish telling you all the brilliant ways they will create a community, break the news that they are depending on ads for their revenue.
I don’t know why this doesn’t make more people nervous. Here are my concerns:
- With more and more people building communities, the potential for ad revenue is decreasing. Even with the growing numbers of web users in developing countries like China and India, if you consider the ridiculous number of new blogs being launched every day, and the fact that people in China probably prefer Chinese sites, you’ve got too many sites for too few visitors (unless your site is in Chinese, I guess). In short, most new communities will not build up a large enough user-base to generate significant ad revenues.
- Why can’t these companies come up with a more creative way to make money? Why is everybody going for the community building-ad revenue model? If they’re so creative with the way they build their community, why does their creativity stop there? Can’t they actually sell something? It just seems so…”me too.”
- Has anyone taken a look at whether any rising stars are reaching stellar levels lately? Today’s big guys got into the business five/ten years ago: Google, FeedBurner, Facebook, MySpace, TechCrunch, Technorati, Read/Write Web, Boing Boing.
Update: Mark from TechCrunch stopped by to comment that TechCrunch is 2+ years old, and Facebook is less than five. He says: “these established players may not be all that old – which is probably why others think they can achieve glory quickly as well.” So perhaps there is hope for a new star…I’d better get to work.
New media is fun – group 3 has got it right. But while I am no expert investor, this has all the signs of a bubble to me. A lot of excitement over a quickly shrinking space with diminishing potential.
One thing’s for sure: with everyone betting on ad revenues, it’s clear who’s going to emerge a sure winner in this social media trend…
Google Adwords and Adsense! Google is king of the world.