PubCon Las Vegas 2010 Recap

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Pubcon Banners

I recently got back from my first PubCon.  For those unfamiliar PubCon is one of the leading, and after my experience in my opinion the leading, Search Engine Marketing conferences. It is hosted by Brett Tabke and Webmaster World.  Although many shows claim to be all inclusive, PubCon, just like Affiliate Summit, is setting new standards in excellence in terms of the content of their sessions. This year PubCon expanded its offering beyond  Search Engine Marketing, with a full Affiliate Marketing track, and they also built in numerous sessions in other verticals to create a truly all inclusive Online Marketing conference.

The thing that stood out for me at PubCon was that in each session I attended, the speakers did a great job of focusing on practical strategies giving straight-forward advice on how to implement them in real world scenarios.  Whether or not I agreed with the advice given doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that they were openly sharing how they work and some of the strategies that help to make them money.

Too many conferences are filled with so-called “gurus” whose sessions are full of information about what the guru’s own company does and why you should you use their services, rather than information on things you can implement on your own.  Thankfully PubCon’s sessions were full of information on implementable strategies and how you could tie them into your own marketing efforts.

I do have to warn you, however, PubCon is not for the easily offended.

Animals Into Tacos

Animals Into Tacos

It is a very non-pc conference. For example there were quotes and tweets about a life goal being to eat as many animals as possible in the form of tacos (left); there were lots of swear words in certain panels; let’s just say that the veterans at the show aren’t afraid to speak their mind. The networking is phenomenal at these events but you need to be ready for a group that is ready to party and is very social.

The nice thing about PubCon, that I haven’t seen at many other shows, is that if you are standing alone people will walk up to you and start talking.  There is something about the vibe of the show that just makes people want to smile and have fun while actually working and networking at the same time.  I met more people in one hour when my friends were off using the restroom or grabbing a drink, than I would normally meet after 3 or 4 days at some other large shows.

Rae Hoffman and Rhea Drysdale

Rae Hoffman and Rhea Drysdale

I’ve had an affiliate site in a particular niche for a while now and at the opening networking session I ran into a WebmasterWorld Moderator by the handle of Bucksworth who also happens to be in a very similar niche as me.  Not only did we share ideas with each other but we were also able to both hopefully learn from each other.

It was nice to see that the show veterans were open to sharing their insane amount of knowledge. For instance the lovely ladies of Outspoken Media, Rae Hoffman, Rhea Drysdale, (pictured right), along with Lisa Barone, are not only incredibly smart, but they also think on the fly allowing them to help suggest solutions for the myriad of questions people threw their way.

At PubCon, Rae did her famous panel filled with on the spot site reviews and critiques for the audience. A lot of the advise was simple common sense mistakes or creative suggestions but  when you combine her expertise with that of Jim Banks, VP of AdMarketers, you get a great panel. They got you thinking about where your links are coming from and why people would want to link to your site, you know the basics of why you started, as well as throwing in valuable facts and debunking rumors.

For instance the rumor that Google is kicking sites out simply for buying backlinks. It’s common knowledge that you can’t solely rely on backlinks that are purchased and there are stories about Google penalizing people for doing just that. Rae brought up an excellent point that paid links can’t be the sole reason for a site getting kicked out of the search engines because if that was the only deciding factor than anyone could go buy backlinks point them to their competitors and their competitors would disappear.

I think Matt Cutts and the PhDs at Google are definitely a bit more thorough in their algorithm than that.  I’m not saying to go buy a million backlinks, but if you end up buying a few, it probably isn’t the end of the world.  Consider a banner or media buy that isn’t backlink related or the goal isn’t to get a better SERP but just to get traffic and sales.  If this would penalize you or get you thrown out of the search engines than CPM buys would disappear altogether or you would probably never hear the question, “What is no follow” again since everyone would be requesting no follow links so their sites don’t get thrown out of the engines.

All-in-all PubCon was an excellent show perfect for those who want to learn how to grow as an online marketer. It is one of the last shows, just like Affiliate Summit, where you can go in thinking you know absolutely everything there is to know about a particular channel of Marketing and leave realizing how much more there actually is to learn.  With an A list group of speakers, mostly made up of people who actually do the work instead of executives who talk out of their “you know what”, Pubcon is simply a must attend for anyone serious about online marketing.

About Adam Riemer

Adam Riemer has been an Online Marketer for over a decade. Having worked in house and on his own, Adam Riemer helps both large and small companies develop, execute and analyze Marketing campaigns for ROI and branding in both the B2B and B2C world. You can reach Adam or find out where he is speaking or which Clients he is working with by visiting his blog at or follow him on Twitter @rollerblader.

16 Responses to PubCon Las Vegas 2010 Recap

  1. @reyvillar says:

    Adam, my sentiments exactly. PubCon is unmatched in the advanced level of content it provides. Haven't been to Affiliate Summit, but I may have to give it a try.

  2. David Iwanow says:

    I was lucky enough to attend Affiliate Summit NYC and it was absolutely awesome one of the best conferences i've attended and was compared by several people at the event as like pubcon one event you must try and attend atleast once.

    No more coverage or discussions about the exact match domains and the algorithm slap Google has planned in time to impact their Christmas traffic surge?

  3. jimbanks says:

    Cheers for the positive feedback Adam. I've been doing Pubcon shows since 2002 and I think you have encapsulated the show's key benefits really well.

    I know the show's advisory board is always keen to put tracks on that represent what is popular and the affiliate track is only likely to get bigger in the future. That being said I know there were a few top notch speakers approached who said no and some that said yes and then pulled out.

    I love doing site reviews, considering we never know what sites and issues we are going to get it really keeps you on your toes.

    Pubcon is always one of the first shows I put on my calendar. Content is excellent, social is excellent, networking opportunities are excellent. The biggest challenge is always trying to allocate your show and social time. The show seems like it is a long time, but it goes in the blink of an eye.

    Hope to see you again at future Pubcon's

  4. rollerbladerdc says:

    Hi Reyvillar,

    It is along the lines of Pubcon as far as content and networking goes. You do have a lot more corporate stuff there but Shawn and Missy do not put up with speakers who self promote. They also allow the attendees to vote on which sessions make it to the show, with the advisory boards approval I believe. They are both my must attend public shows now.


    Pubcon is a must attend event. I was blown away by it and how cool it really was. It is an amazing learning experience and probably one of my top three favorite places that I have ever spoke. Hope to see you there next year.


    No problem. You and Rae completely dominated that session and did an amazing job. I wanted to get up and add something to a couple of the comments but oddly enough I got a nose bleed as I raised my hand. The girl who was live blogging next to me went OMG and I was like "I guess Matt Cutts is in the building because I just got a Google Slap!" and had to run to the restroom laughing. You guys did a great job.

  5. Hey Adam, excellent post and it was great meeting you last week!

    I have to agree with you in that PubCon is a much friendlier conference than ANY other I've been to. The people who walk up to you aren't (usually) trying to sell you anything, they genuinely want to discuss the SEO/SEM trade and are willing to give you their best practices. Truly amazing.

    Now that I'm back in the office, its time to go over my notes and try to make sense out of them. Can't wait to see the slides and video from all the sessions that I missed!

  6. Pat Grady says:

    calling Rae incredibly smart is like calling the Boeing factory an incredibly large building (it's beyond huge). she's also quick, blunt and funny – imo, the perfect speaker. going to her presentations at Summit or PubCon is like being Neo, hooked up to the Matrix, so you can learn seo – just wish i could absorb knowledge that fast.

    • rollerbladerdc says:

      You know, you are right up there with her in the brains department. If the two of you ever got together it'd make one of the scariest and smartest conversations about search that anyone would ever get to hear.

  7. Elmer Boutin says:

    Adam – Great summary on all the reasons to attend PubCon. I, too, love the vibe of the people who chose to attend. I think I learn just a little more during the "in between" times than I do from the sessions – and I learn a lot from the sessions. I love how everyone is willing to exchange knowledge and ideas. I came back this time with my head spinning, full of new things to check out and try. I'm already looking forward to March.

  8. Dr. Pete says:

    Apparently, I don't even have to attend Pubcon to make trouble 🙂

    My taco preferences aside, I've made it to the previous 3 shows (missed this year due to a new baby), and there is definitely a more personal/social vibe to Pubcon. I've made a lot of great relationships there.

  9. Very good summary and so accurate about the Pubcon vibe. The networking and convo outside the sessions is always invaluable and the real meat of the conference, and I usually get a tidbit or two from the sessions as well. But I felt this year the sessions were above and beyond, chock full of more info than ever. The tone is very much about sharing information and many speakers went out of their way to give takeaways that we can use. I was scribbling like mad by hand without a laptop. 🙂 I love when the speakers really get into the nuts and bolts and assume the listeners already know the basics, they seemed to do much more of this than ever, very stimulating.

  10. rollerbladerdc says:

    Hi Elmer,

    Looking forward to hopefully meeting you in March then. I have to agree, I learned more in a few hours at Pubcon than I did reading forums for a few years.

    Dr, Pete,

    You know Austin is in Texas and there are a ton of great taco places there. You game?


    I agree 100% This was an awesome show.

    • Dr. Pete says:

      @adam – If I make it down to Pubcon South one of these days, I'll take you up on that. I'm experiencing that paradox of working for yourself. When the money finally comes so that you can do things like go to conferences, there's no time left in the day.

  11. @jimbanks says:

    I think with the onset of live blogging etc. it's more difficult to be a speaker.

    You look up and see everyone looking at their screens and not you. The paranoid speaker would think they were ignoring, when it's just the opposite.

    • rollerbladerdc says:

      It also means you have to be a lot more careful about what you say and to make sure that they understand what your point and goal or intent actually is. You may mean one thing but because they are busy typing they could misunderstand or because they are writing it and you don't have the ability to share your tone or voice with the reader it could come off the wrong way.

  12. @johnfairley says:

    Didn't make it to PubCon Vegas this year, but I've found the past events to be the best in the industry.

    I do miss presenters asking first if anyone in the crowd is from Google before giving up a tasty morsel about a tactic.

    Definitely going next year. @Dr. Pete and @revillar, let's make it a Chicago caravan.