A thought came to mind last night as I laid awake in my bed (yes... it's quite typical for me to think about work while trying to sleep)... are search engine conferences worth attending anymore?
This may seem like a pretty dumb question to some, but hear me out. Depending on whom you are and what your motives are for attending the answer can swing either way. Obviously for newer marketers looking to get a grasp on the industry, a trade show is well-worth the price of admission. The same can be said about those "do it yourself" / "let's learn what we can and bring it in-house" personalities.
However... where is the benefit for us veteran marketers? Surely I can understand the value in networking and maintaining strong business relationships and friendships with frequent face-to-face encounters... that's basic business. But, networking aside (as well as the occasional plugging of one's business objectives), I'm not too convinced that there's value in attending Search Engine Strategies, PubCon, or any number of these new, smaller conferences that are just recently starting to pop-up... at least from the moderate and advanced search marketer's point of view.
Let's face it... everything that is vital to search marketing, including techniques, strategies, news, updates, and announcements can and is learned absolutely FREE from the comfort of the office via industry blogs, articles, press releases, pod casts, videos, and forum threads. It is because of these mediums, as well as our increasing desire to create quality (and linkable) content, that we, as an industry, no longer have trade secrets. We expose everything literally minutes after learning it... and we don't think twice about doing so.
However, for arguments sake, lets say that a few of us still have an "SEM Secret" or two that isn't yet mainstream. I doubt very much that you, I, nor the speakers at these conferences are going to voluntarily share them with an audience full of competitors. It's in our best interest to keep such ideas of value to ourselves, and have the speakers at these events continue to force feed us the same regurgitated slide-show presentations show after show... and you know that they do. Where's the value in that?!
Even if (and this is a pretty big "even if") you come across a session where a speaker is throwing down the mother-of-all-trade secrets... it wouldn't take but five minutes from the time it was mentioned to the time Barry and Lisa publishes it for their respective audiences to read. That's the beauty of live blogging! That's also another validation of why search marketers no longer have a need to fork up $2k on a conference pass (not to mention other conference expenses). Anything worth mentioning at the conference will ultimately be mentioned again and again afterwards via industry bloggers and analysts.
So, with all that being said, let me ask you this... am I wrong in thinking that search marketers are no longer the target audience for search marketing conferences? Where exactly is the value, other than networking opportunities, for seasoned search marketers?