SES Latino Wrap Up

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¡Qué Calor!

While Miami in July would not have been my first pick, one thing was sure: the inaugural Search Engine Strategies Latino show was hot, in both the literal and figurative senses. Chaired by iHispanic founder Nacho Hernandez , the show was a visionary cauldron.

To informally kick of the event, international search player Massimo Burgio gathered attendees at the Miami InterContinental lounge as he watched his Italian home team win the World Cup. It was at this moment that I realized how underserved the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets are. Attendees filtered in as they arrived from Argentina, New York, Chile, Brazil, Spain, Mexico and so on. Traveling thousands of miles, these search experts were well equipped to discuss the intricacies of their local markets, forge deals and establish a community.

Firing Up

Post-game, I had the pleasure of dining with Massimo and his entourage, which included Barbara Coll of Webmama . Three years ago Barbara worked with Nacho and Danny Sullivan to develop the first U.S. Hispanic session at the San Jose SES. At that time, the market was almost completely ignored.

Fast forward to today and I am sitting next to an all-star lineup including Gonzalo Alonso , general manager of Google Mexico; Gonzalo's team member Jorge Ruiz E. Arrioja (2005 BusinessWeek Young Entrepreneur finalist); Lucas Morea; Mauricio V á zquez, general manager of MPG Media Contacts Mexico; Paul Saffrey of Silverdisc; and Francis Petty of international auction player Deremate-Inc.com.

Small is Hot, Too

I must admit that I had my concerns about the show attendance. It was a pleasant surprise to see the session rooms packed with not only industry experts, but big brands. I had a chance to speak to a few, including Adriel Sanchez of SAP, Manuel Ley of Sol Melia Hotels and the fabulous Monica of Citibank Mexico.

Throughout the show, I realized that SES Latino was like no other I had attended before. To start, every single attendee was truly engaged. Sure, the BlackBerrys occasionally came out, but the focus was on being in the present, learning and sharing. Perhaps this is why the show was so successful.

The beginners had a genuine interest in how to get up to speed. For the more advanced, debate was held on the fact that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to relatively unexplored search markets such as the U.S.-based Hispanics. This is particularly true for the "accent or no accent" organic search optimization dilemma. Questions to speakers were polite, a marked difference from some of the zingers thrown in the larger shows to embarrass a panelist.

And finally, whereas search engine marketing firms tend to dominate the exhibit floor and sessions for general-market SES shows, it was the engines in the spotlight at SES Latino. Like any maturing industry, growth often comes from abroad, and thus the heavy investment in the event.

All Ends Well in South Beach

Despite her diminutive figure, Sarah Carberry is a search engine force to be reckoned with. Representing the Google U.S. Hispanic effort, she clued me in on some little known data points. Not only do virtually all online Hispanics use search engines, but the respondents to a 2006 Interactive Advertising Bureau study were slightly younger, better educated and more tech-savvy than non-Hispanic respondents.

Later in the evening, this Pied Piper led dozens of attendees from both the Yahoo boat cruise and the Google party to the Skybar at the Shore Club  to close out the night.

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