This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) interviewed Pat East of Hero Conf. The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:
Hero Conf is going on it’s third year. Did you envision the conference being an annual event?
I had hoped the community would value the excellent content & events we were putting together enough to make it yearly. It’s apparent we’re doing something right as Hero Conf continues to grow year after year. It’s exciting to see! Knock on wood, I don’t see the momentum slowing down anytime soon. We surpassed 2013’s regs a month ago & our workshop is sold out!
Why did you decide to have the conference in Austin again?
There is so much to like about Austin, it just made sense to go back. First, we again want to make the experience affordable. Second, we also love the emerging tech scene here & value the excellent PPC Hero readership from the area. Most of all, Austin is fun, vibrant, quirky & entertaining. We think it reflects perfectly what we want Hero Conf to be. At Hero Conf, we’ll have a big announcement for where 2015’s location will be. Extremely excited about it, folks will dig it.
What will be different about this year’s conference vs. last year?
I think the biggest difference will be the number of session options. We’ve added a fourth track of content. We’ll have more than 40 sessions covering just about any PPC topic you can think of. We’ll also introduce our LIVE sessions. These will be hands-on, interactive audits of landing pages, copy, bids, budgets, keywords, etc. They should be very exciting.
What’s great is that there will be sessions around social PPC which is gaining more and more momentum
That was very intentional this year. Two panels, likely more in 2015. Fingers crossed for keynotes then!
Can you talk about the entertainment and special events you will be having this year?
I have to say, we’re going all out! Our welcome reception will be at UT’s Texas Memorial Stadium with amazing field & city views.We welcome back singer/songwriter Erin Ivey for Monday’s reception. Monday night, we’ve got the Bar Takeover, powered by Bing. We’ll have the Market & Tap Room to ourselves. Tuesday night, we’ll have an exclusive private screening at the Alamo Drafthouse. Plus, we’ll have some exciting things happening during the event you won’t want to miss. For more, go to the Entertainment section of HeroConf.com.
Sounds amazing – What will the exclusive private screening be of?
Still deciding. Either a classic 80’s movie or a new release from earlier that month.
Why did you decide to increase the speakers to 65?
Our goal has always been for attendees to have ultimate access to our speakers & experts. As attendance has grown, we’ve added speakers & sessions to ensure our attendee to speaker ratio stays low. It’s 5:1 this year, lowest in the industry! Meaning there will be a lot of opportunities to network & make great connections that would not be possible at a larger event.
I know what you mean – I’m always excited to see old friends and meet new ones at Hero Conf. Walk us through the process of choosing the speakers and topics?
I’ve always thought our readers & attendees know best, so we solicited topics & speaker ideas before we planned a single session. Round 1 for our speaker selection is blind. We review pitches free of identifying information, judging on relevance & creativity. We think we’ve put together an incredible lineup of seasoned speakers along with some new voices with exciting ideas.
Speaking of creativity and new voices…What is your ultimate goal for Hero Conf? Have you already reached that goal?
There’s no specific, numeric goal. Generally, our objective was always to provide our attendees the best PPC content available, while ensuring they have a great experience. I want Hero Conf to be different & surprising. I think we’ve achieved that & we don’t want stop pushing to improve. Attendees can expect a fresh experience every year with creative new content & entertainment.
Last year the hot topic was Enhanced Campaigns. What do you believe that topic will be this year?
Mobile is always big & in part is why Enhanced Campaigns were a hot topic last year. But just because that talk has died down doesn’t mean the interest in mobile has. I expect that to be big. As for new topics, I see our industry’s growing interest in the creative side of advertising being important, with topics like ad copy & landing page optimization. In short, conversion rate optimization is gaining steam. Our State of Paid Search industry survey showed a vast majority of digital advertisers expect to pay more attention to design & execution in 2014.
For those who can’t make the conference this year, is there a way for us to participate and/or learn?
We’ll make a concerted effort to drive the conversation on Twitter. #HeroConf will be the place to hear all the latest insights, new ideas & to generally see what’s happening. There will be start-to-finish coverage to keep the community informed. We may stream keynotes again, we’re still deciding that. We’ll have a live #ppcchat that attendees & non-attendees can participate in! Make it to Austin, if at all possible. This will be an event you’ll regret missing! Register for HeroConf!
Do you envision Hero Conf being as big as the SMX and SES conferences? Do you want it to be that big?
We’ll always want to keep Hero Conf as quirky & cool as it currently is, doing things like a Bloody Mary bar. But, yes, as long as we can provide our attendees with worthwhile experiences, I’m happy with growth. We have some exciting plans going forward. You can expect Hero Conf will always be much different than SMX or SES, even if we match their size.
What do you think is the difference between a good and a great Hero Conf keynote / session ?
Great keynotes are strategic, they set the stage for the rest of the sessions. You’ll view the rest of the sessions through that (hopefully) new lens.
What should attendees expect from the 1 on 1 workshops?
They can expect a tailored, personal experience with real impact on their account. Think of these workshops as mini-audits. They’ll have the opportunity to discuss goals, account settings, structure ad writing/testing, budgets, bidding & CRO. All with Hanapin staff & our excellent speakers. We’re also moving workshops off-site to a fun & interesting co-working space. I think it will really add to the overall Hero Conf experience. But we’ve completely run out of spots, the workshop is sold out!
Register for HeroConf now to guarantee your spot at the must-attend PPC conference of the year!
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This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.