This week I flew across ‘the pond’ (or ‘ditch’ as the Kiwis call it) to speak at Search Engine Boot Camp NZ in Auckland. This was the first conference Barry Smyth from Search Strategies has run in NZ and it turned out to be a great success.
Barry seems to have a thing about water views – I’ve been to two of his conferences now (Sydney & Auckland) and they both have been held at absolutely great water frontage locations. This conference was held at the Hilton which sits right on Auckland Harbour. (Barry told me afterwards that passing ships kept interferring with his recording equipment during the day).
Search Engine Bootcamp is usually aimed at the beginner end of the market. However, the Kiwis are obviously hungry for good search information as many of the ‘big hitters’ in NZ search such as Fairfax Media and Kiwi Bank also attended.
One of the event’s big news items was made by Yahoo! Aust/NZ CEO Craig Wax who announced the long overdue recognition of NZ as a distinct market from Australia. Up until now, Yahoo! has not offered separate geo-targeting for NZ paid search. All NZ searches were grouped within Australia/NZ (not much help if you are offering a West Coast NZ holiday house and your ad comes up for accommodation in Perth, WA 3300 miles away).
With the coming launch of Panama in NZ, Yahoo! will split NZ into 16 regions. This should definitely help Yahoo! gain some market share in the NZ market where, according to speaker Tessa Court from Hitwise, Google currently enjoys well over 90%.
One final observation (as long as it dosn’t get me into trouble at home!!) was how nice it was to see so many women attending the event. (my guess – approx 40%). I have been to a few conferences now in the US and Aust and most are definitely ‘blokey’ events. It’s great to see so many women in NZ getting into search.
If Barry can jag this venue again with the America’s Cup potentially returning to NZ – it will definitely be THE search engine conference to be at in a few years time.