Tonight was the promisingly named “PPC Earthquake” for Chinwag(#3). Each of these events has had an unusual noun appended to it (I suspect for searchability and Flickr tagging purposes), but this little bit of hyperbole was the most impressive and misleading to date. Unless they meant it would involve mindless destruction of my evening.
Putting aside the poor staging – constantly interupted by technical failures and squeeking doors – and the rude audience members carrying on conversations during the proceedings, our host for the evening Mike Butcher ranged between bored and aggressive as the pannelists (with the exception of Nigel Leggatt from Microsoft) said not very much at all about anything.
Considering the amount of general press and blog attention for the new Yahoo platform, the discussion tonight was fairly redundant as we cycled to the conclusion that the big three would scrap it out, unless…. er…. someone else came along to challenge them.
Mobile search might be interesting, but everyone agreed not quite yet. At one point someone in the audience said “shouldn’t we be more user-centred”, meaning – I think – why are the main engines not providing better user experiences (incidentally a point I would dispute, they’re all pretty bloody good from all the tests I’ve seen). But the point did have relevance tonight. Get someone to oil the door, fix the lights and apply electric shocks to the pannelists when they’re saying nothing. That would have been more centred around tonights poor ‘users’.
For what it’s worth, I think Chinwag, should either declare itself an industry event (i.e. about the structure of the industry and industry politics, and pick some really contentious industry debates – who’s best placed to do search, an open debate on advertiser funding etc.), or broaden the debates to cover something actually new, something outside the audience’s comfort zone.
I suspect their current mild ambivalence to matters of interest is caused by the need for a sponsor, although senior people from big mouth media (tonight’s sponsor) were noticably absent from the event. This is a particular shame since 10 minutes of Steve might have made all the difference.