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SEMPO Officially Ends

SEMPO Officially Ends
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The Digital Analytics Association announced that they have absorbed the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), an important milestone in the history of search marketing.

The members of SEMPO voted by email to approve the merger with DAA and the dissolution of SEMPO.

Digital Analytics Association

The DAA is an organization founded by executives related to the web analytics industry.

It’s not an organization I am familiar with. Though the DAA has existed since the early 2000’s this is the first I’ve heard of them.

But search marketers may be forgiven for not having heard of them either because it’s not really a search marketing organization, it’s a web analytics organization.

This is how the DAA describes their mission:

“Advancing the use of data to understand and improve the digital world through professional development and community.”

And elsewhere:

“Unite web analytic professionals, consultants, and end-users to discuss, combine forces and powerfully promote our common interests worldwide.”

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Is the DAA a Good Fit for SEMPO Members?

The focus of the DAA is analytics, which seems limited compared to the broader scope of what SEMPO represented as a search engine marketing organization.

It remains to be seen what will result from this “absorption” as it is called by DAA.

The announcement implies a continued focus on analytics.

According to the official announcement:

“DAA is committed to helping former SEMPO members become fully integrated into DAA, and will be forming a special interest group (SIG) for search analytics. “

I asked Bill Slawski (@bill_slawski) about this important event and he offered:

“It would be good seeing them adopt transparency, democracy, and accountability with their move. I would like to see them succeed in building an organization that helps the industry have a voice that is respected and listened to.”

Reaction on Twitter

Dana Todd provided a great deal of background history on the accomplishments of SEMPO via Twitter.

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SEMPO History

SEMPO was organized around 2003 as an organization for search marketers. Many of the board members, advisers and people involved in the creation of SEMPO were a who’s-who of search marketing. The people involved in the creation of SEMPO were industry veterans such as Christine Churchill, Brett Tabke and Danny Sullivan.

As I recall there was a lot of enthusiasm about the formation of an industry group at a time when few knew what SEO was and many organizations lacked an in-house SEO division.

SEMPO helped give the industry legitimacy and a hope for standards and a strong voice.

But criticism about the organization existed early on, including charges of a lack of democracy, ineffective messaging and (as I recall) that the organization was perceived as representing the interests of the higher level elite members and didn’t adequately represent the independent sector of search marketing.

All of the search marketing forums were abuzz with comments of hope and criticism.

My observation in 2004 was:

“If SEMPO is an organization for raising awareness, how come there are no press releases, no outreach, no presence in the real world?

The ideals were good, but the execution has not been as vigorous as one would have hoped. I took a wait and see approach… and I’m still waiting.”

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The highest profile criticism at the time was lobbed by industry veteran Mike Grehan and it hit the mark with a bang.

Mike Grehan wrote:

“So, a few months ago, I succumbed and joined at the lowest level for $299.

After parting with my cash I waited patiently for my welcome pack and my newsletter and frequent pinging about events and happening stuff and… Not a sausage.

There has been much dialogue in the industry forums about what it is that SEMPO actually does and what the benefits of the organisation are.

Even though I personally know members of the board, I really don’t think that they have fully set out their stall to the members, to give us an opportunity to see what they are really trying to achieve.”

The board was made up of volunteers who had given their time to create SEMPO. Ordinarily an organization has elected members and this is one of the important issues Mike highlighted.

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His article then ended with the request that the board resign and allow for the formation of a board that can take the organization to the next level.

Danny Sullivan published an article in SearchEngineWatch in the aftermath of Mike Grehan’s criticism stating:

“Communication by SEMPO’s board to its members has been poor.

…Somewhat related to the legitimacy issue is the fact that SEMPO’s board members have never been elected to their positions.

…there’s no doubt that having actual elections would have helped stem some of the legitimacy concerns later raised. I was a board member for a short period between the Boston meeting and the actual launch, when I stepped down to instead be part of SEMPO’s advisory board. One of my suggestions was that elections be held fairly soon after an actual membership base existed.”

End of SEMPO is End of an Era

SEMPO was the best known of various web marketing associations. There are many smaller regional organizations as well as numerous Meetup groups. But there has been nothing like SEMPO itself.

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This is certainly an end of an era, one which sees the industry without an organization or interest group with the prestige of SEMPO to advocate and create a sense of community and identity.

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Roger Montti

Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience. He provides site audits, phone consultations and content and link ... [Read full bio]

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