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Welcome happy readers to this week’s PPCChat screencap! Due to the pandemic, most of the conferences are held virtually. Host Julie F Bacchini took this opportunity to ask PPCers if conferences have been a way to learn about what is happing in PPC, what is the biggest difference they have found, other than conferences, what other sources they have to learn about the current situation in PPC and more.

Q1: Have events or conferences historically been a way that you’ve learned about what’s happening or evolving in PPC? Why or why not?

Yes, we enjoyed attending in-person events (I think it’s been early 2019 since we’ve been to one) but honestly we were there for networking rather than education. @gilgildner

One of the ways – yeah for sure. And especially to learn about channels I do not run. @TheMarketingAnu

Yes but not as a primary, day to day source. It’s a great way to connect with others who have deep expertise, and have really in-depth conversations, but the investment needed is a lot. @JuliaVyse

Yes, conferences have definitely historically been a place and way for me to learn about what other people are doing successfully in PPC! I love being immersed in PPC world for a couple/few days. You know, in the “before times”.. @NeptuneMoon

Conferences have always been my thing. I started pitching to speak 15 years ago with mainly two objectives: – justify the travel cost to the agency – learn from all the other speakers I would sit through most of the sessions just picking up and comparing.  @soanders

Most definitely. Sessions are great, but also the informal conversations with other attendees/presenters about things I’m seeing. @robert_brady

Mixed bag. I find that at conferences I learn about unique approaches/tactics to day to day operations. But not learning how to do day to day operations. I also use conf to help me humble my own ego, when I quickly learn, I’m not as smart as 50% the people here @JonKagan

A1. Sort of. Maybe there is 1 or 2 ideas I take away from the conference. It’s more the networking, meeting people in person and making friends/community you can talk about with stuff. It’s good to get out from in front of the desk and meet people. @duanebrown

I used to love going to conferences to learn about PPC. They put me face-to-face with smart people speaking and listening. Ideas were shared. Arguments for/against were made. They also introduced me to a lot of smart people on Twitter I didn’t know before. @nateknox

I use events to learn which problems brands need help solving and where it makes sense to focus content/dev effort. I’m very lucky that I get to learn from speakers all year round – it’s the networking that brings out the true profit and victory @navahf

I haven’t had the opportunity to attend an event in-person prior to covid. With that said I’ve always attained all of my learning online via articles, virtual conferences, social media, Googling. I’m going to try and attend Hero Conf in 2022! @BrettBodofsky

I used to love going to SMX Advanced every year. Looking forward to when I can start going to conferences again! @dan_patterson

This might sound smug, but I typically don’t learn “new” things at events. Staying in the UI and connecting on threads like #ppcchat tends to be where I really get the goods. That said – there are certain speakers I will always make a point to see (for positioning ideas). @navahf

Events/conferences have been for learning, yes – but not just from sessions. Learning happens in networking, too. Honestly though, the networking and personal/business branding presence has always been a higher priority. @John_A_Lee

I like events because I feel like it’s a good opportunity to get my ear to the ground and get a pulse on what other people are doing to see results. I like testing things other people are seeing success with and test it out for myself. @jord_stark

Not really. I’ve historically enjoyed conferences more for the networking and big-picture ideas than for tactical tips. @akaEmmaLouise

Q2: Have you attended any virtual events over the past 18 months for PPC? If so, how would you characterize your experience and/or what you learned?

Yes…but I was underwhelmed. You can’t connect with others, everyone’s tired of screens, and honestly grabbing drinks with new friends is the most important part of a conference to me. @gilgildner

Snapchat had one that was pretty interactive. @MenachemAni

I’ve attended a few virtually and presented at one. I’ve learned that there are pros (e.g. being able to walk on a treadmill while listening) and cons (e.g. harder to block out focus time when I think I can be multitasking) @akaEmmaLouise

Yes. And I found it harder to block out the time and focus on the conference and sessions. So that is on me. However, I miss the interaction and networking. Conferences try stuff, but it falls way short. @robert_brady

I have both spoken “at” and attended quite a few virtual events in the past 18 months. I miss the energy of being in a room with like-minded people. I also find that I don’t dedicate the days for virtual like I do in person.  @NeptuneMoon

ALL THE VIRTUAL CONFERENCES. Some have been positive with active Q&A, etc. Others have been relatively quiet. Mixed bag. Quality of the content has remained solid, so that’s a plus. @John_A_Lee

Yes, I have. It’s definitely different. Miss the networking aspect. And I have the bad habit of having the talk on but working on sometihng else on my second screen. So not as fully immersive as if I was there in person. @TheMarketingAnu

Yes. We presented one and I’ve attended a few. Mostly I did learn a lot insofar as the tech companies doing the event tend to have the funds and infrastructure to make it good. Helpful to get new UI and product info. And we had a really successful client summit. @JuliaVyse

Done a handful as a presenter/speaker and it was great. Meet some interesting people and learned as well. The “hall” chats are harder to create online. Spoken at @Digiday, #BrightonSEO, @EcomWorldConf and a number of other places. @duanebrown

I have attended one tech award style virtual event – it provided 2 options – use a custom avatar to explore or check in to your table and use the chat feature. I learned in this moment that connecting in the digital era will require creating different dimensions @GreenRope

Virtual events fall flat for me. I might as watch another YT video. I prefer the in-person, unusual for me as an introvert, because I’d rather talk to people on real practical ideas and sound-board ideas off each other. @nateknox

I have spoken at a few virtual events. I hate the experience. I get no audience feedback, I build no connexions, I don’t even know if I managed to meet my 1 KPI for speaking: make the audience laugh just once. I also don’t like attending virtual sessions much. @soanders

I learned a little bit, but it definitely didn’t feel as “hands on” as you get from an in person conference. I mean, the upside was I got to stay in my pajamas. As a presenter at one of these, I truly detest it. Cant hear anyone laughing at my hilarious jokes. @JonKagan

I spoke/attended the following virtual events (not including webinars): @sejournal eSummit @Pubcon virtual @PaidSearchOrg virtual @MnSEARCH@smx virtual @SEMpdx virtual @adwexp mix @Sendlane virtual round up SMS Sydney virtual @navahf

I found that the content was absolutely on point – the networking not so much (so my main way of getting “hidden insights” was gone). Also – @Optmyzr had their FIRST virtual conference and it was a pleasure to speak at that. @RocksDigital was another great one! @navahf

I’ve presented and attended. Was never big into webinars, and that’s what these events are. Very limited experience. Can’t wait for on-sites to return @mikeryanretail

As a presenter: first time was scary staring into the webcam lens like the dead black eye of a shark. Total vacuum, no crowd to read. By the third time it was getting boring. @mikeryanretail

As an attendee: insufficient border from biz-as-usual workdays too many distractions, no skin in the game, easy to tune out or multitask. No community vibes! @mikeryanretail

Q3: Obviously, virtual events are not the same as in person events. What has the biggest difference(s) been for you in your experience and has it impacted what you feel you’ve taken away from the virtual events?

Normally I leave a conference having met dozens (& more) of new people. Connecting to them on LinkedIn/Twitter afterwards, etc. Virtual shows have diminished this to a VERY small number. My network growth has slowed significantly during this era of all virtual. @John_A_Lee

The feedback, the immersion in the topic, networking. And retention. If the day is all video calls then any additional convos or problem solving or just thinking happens afterwards. shout out to 5-7pm. Power Hour! when actual work happens. @JuliaVyse

I miss the value in seeing who you naturally connect or network with in person. The energy and way people carry themselves is very different from behind the screen and in-person. @GreenRope

Nonverbal communication is real. When you ask someone in person a simple question like “How is Facebook going for you now with the tracking changes?” you get an answer. But HOW they say that answer is also really telling. I want to see their face and body language. @robert_brady

I always tell myself that I will “watch the rest of the sessions later” and I rarely do. And it is not for lack of interest in those sessions or speakers? Also, as a presenter, having low numbers during the “live” session does not feel great either.. @NeptuneMoon

I think it’s a different mindset among attendees. For many virtual events, I do like that the presentations are recorded + searchable, so I can more easily share content or refer back to a specific tactic/item. @DigitalSamIAm

I find the in person events bring a certain degree of comradery, and a hard to explain ambiance that helps reenergize me within the industry. I know it is cliche, but it just feels different, and not in a great way. @JonKagan

In-person events stretch you and push you out of your comfort zones. You meet people. You engage. Virtual is too easy to sign off. Virtual networking is hot trash to me @nateknox

In-person events are a celebration of people and a way to connect with those who get what you’re going through. Virtual events are great at making hard to access insights (because they can be prerecorded) more accessible. @navahf

Why virtual events compared to physical events are Flat (the word was used several times already). No emotions, no highlights, no audience murmuring, nobody nodding. The feedback loop is broken and it just makes it a flat experience. @soanders

I will say that virtual events to open up the content to a much wider audience because the cost to “attend” is either free or very affordable vs. in person events. I’d like to see that accessibility continue when things go back to in person primarily. @NeptuneMoon

I do hope all in-person conferences commit to recording all their sessions — as a speaker, it’s SO MUCH EASIER if I know that attendees will have access to slides AND presentation, b/c then I don’t feel compelled to ensure all content is on the slides or notes. @DigitalSamIAm

From a marketer’s perspective, virtual events have enabled new levels of scale and efficiency. So it isn’t ALL bad/negative. Where is the middle ground? Think we’re all still sorting that out. @John_A_Lee

And I know there are presentation people who say “keep the slides simple” – but when you survey attendees, about 80% of them want detailed + actionable. They want to be able to do what you talked about. They want the specifics. @DigitalSamIAm

Like others, virtual events have made me realize that the most value I gained from attending events previously was from human connections that were made. Even if I attended a great session, best moments were often after-the-fact getting to engage 1:1 with the speaker. @akaEmmaLouise

There’s a big gap between virtual and in person events when it comes to networking and abilities to form connections with attendees. I’ve seen some virtual events do a better job fixing this gap than others. @revaminkoff

Yes, definitely the lack of networking and especially as they need to be recorded beforehand, you are just speaking into a camera. I’ve not done any of those that are live. @TheMarketingAnu

My favorite virtual events have actually had great opportunities for 1:1/small group networking and connections @revaminkoff

Really the lack of in-person. Plus getting to travel to a different city/country. @duanebrown

As someone already mentioned THE TECH can make all the difference. The kind of chat roulette-style networking SEJ had was fantastic, I gained a lot of new connections from that. I find having the opportunity to ask speakers questions after their session of value to @BrettBodofsky

Q4: If events are not a significant way for you to keep current in the world of PPC, what is?

Chats like this, articles people reference online, newsletters, etc. @dan_patterson

Articles are always my favorite way to learn & consume info. You can completely control the pace, skip irrelevant parts etc. Podcasts are great for passive time like travel or housework. Video has no purpose for me personally. @mikeryanretail

I read A LOT of posts from a wide variety of sources. All of the usual suspects as far as the industry goes, but also some that are not PPC specific. I try to share as many as I can too. And, of course, following and being active on the #ppcchat hashtag! @NeptuneMoon

Case studies, articles and case studies highlighted in articles. Oh yeah, and this little fam here. Even @JuliaVyse and all her canadian-ness. @JonKagan

This group, blogs, sessions with the platforms, other experts in my network. events are about a focused time, at least for me. @JuliaVyse

Well…for starters. Reading all the amazing blogs many of you and others write. And honestly, just doing the work… @John_A_Lee

Following all of you on Twitter has accelerated my learning of paid search and social. Talking to our customers also helps understand what everyone is struggling with + how we can help. @TheCopyTrail

Keeping current on PPC Articles that surface LinkedIn Asking questions on Twitter when I have a doubt (and then I occasionally do a huge report with 5-8 expert interviews and a 65 question deep survey sent to leading agencies worldwide @soanders

TWITTER. Mostly #ppcchat but also the great follows I’ve accumulated over the years. And just using the platforms (sometimes features get noticed “in the wild” before they are publicly announced). @akaEmmaLouise

#ppcchat is a huge one! I also make a point to follow/pay attention to the following: @navahf

I try harder to have the “conversations” with people, but have to use virtual platforms like email, DMs on social, etc. #ppcchat And honestly, this chat is probably the closest any virtual interaction I have comes to real, in-person communication. It “feels” more engaging. @robert_brady

#ppcchat #semrushchat and reading @sengineland @sejournal and @sewatch all help keep me current as do platform reps. @revaminkoff

I read quite a bit, follow #ppcchat, am in a few marketing slack groups…and I spend a lot of time playing around in platforms. At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to learn if you aren’t rolling up your sleeves + practicing. That goes for Sr. People, too. @DigitalSamIAm

More folks/sources I pay attention to @navahf

MORE PEOPLE!!!!! @akaEmmaLouise@amyppc@TheSocialDude I’m sure I will think of more as the day goes on XD @navahf

Follow tons of PPC practitioners. Participate in #ppcchat. Keep a close eye on publications like @sengineland@sejournal. . Listen to PPC related podcasts . Continue working within the platforms each and every day @BrettBodofsky

Have got a mahoooozive list of online articles that are in the rota of what I look at. Seriously – if you need a list – let me know! About 80+ links on there. and the amazing #ppcchat team on here. Can’t get enough of you all. it’s primarily why I use Tweetdeck! @TheMarketingAnu

Q5: Has anything about your learning changed in the last 18 months? If so, what and how has it changed?

Yes, but I don’t know if that’s just the virtualness? We just survived a once in a generation emergency. So learning, retention, focus, priorities have all changed. @JuliaVyse

I miss a lot of the interpersonal exchange, but I’m loving being able to attend some great conferences I normally couldn’t go to from the comfort of my living room.@revaminkoff

The pace of development and fundamental shifts at the platform level (across the board) has been fast and furious this year. I’d imagine all of us are spending MORE time just keeping up with changes – let alone learning tactics/strategies. @John_A_Lee

Also because the conferences are virtual, it’s easier to send and engage my whole team versus just being able to pay for one person to attend. @revaminkoff

For better or worse, I’ve embraced that there is never a one-size-fits-all-forever solution. As such, in my own learning and when training others, I focus much more on processes for improvement than any specific tactic or strategy that may be working in the moment. @akaEmmaLouise

I would not say a lot has changed in what I do to keep up with what’s new and learn, but I will echo what @JuliaVyse said about being able to process and retain information is harder now. Bandwidth is strained! @NeptuneMoon

Actually applying the learning can be tough because of the volatility in the world. Takes longer to see outcomes of tests. On the flip side, I’m seeing more connectivity between PPC and other marketing channels. Smart brands are getting it right. @TheCopyTrail

Covid changed the way I learn PPC More – #ppcchat – direct interaction via online media – spontaneous zoom/meet’s Less – conferences – whitepapers @soanders

Not really. But I am realizing I am having less examples to view when I want to replicate stuff. @JonKagan

I am even more bound by the rule that I don’t know anything definitively. Everything is open to be tested and learning by doing has become even more crucial (technical tutorials go out of date so quickly XD)! @navahf

Q6: What would you like to share with virtual event organizers that would make the experience more valuable and/or better for you?

Use platforms that allow for 1:1 networking. It’s not the same as being there in person, but it really helps. @revaminkoff

Make it light. no really. not everyone’s wifi is top notch, and two working adults + 2 kids doing virtual school = leave the camera off. Do the most on your end to make it light on the audience end. @JuliaVyse

You need to keep attendees engaged somehow between sessions, otherwise you lose them @JonKagan

An engaging experience/features helps retain attention and makes for a more exciting time. . Networking is something I value, but find a way to make it so I don’t get connected to 5 different individuals all trying to sell me on the same product. @BrettBodofsky

It would be cool to see different “tracks” for different learning styles. I know some big conferences will offer on-demand + live sessions but given the versatility of online there could also be more audio-only sessions, hands-on workshops, think-tank discussions, etc @akaEmmaLouise

Q7: Is there a need for a different kind of event or publication or podcast or something else that would help you keep up with what’s happening in PPC?

I’d appreciate a daily 3 min, TikTok info everything that happened today, with music and dancing. @JonKagan

Not sure if another ‘thing’ is needed. Timing is surely most of it. as of 3pm, I have no further questions. I don’t have it in me to ‘engage.’ making space, allowing conversations to happen, & not taking it too hard when ppl don’t jump in is what’s needed. patience. @JuliaVyse

Keeping up to date. Forgot the shout out to the @PaidSearchOrg. We set up some conferences (personally I missed them so far). And @SzetelaDavid sends out the daily PPC Links. Follow those and you won’t miss much in the world of @soanders

What I love about the #ppc industry is that we’re all super supportive of each other and usually look to do well by doing good. The types of content that are out there reflect how we learn and the stages of growth on the ppc path. @navahf

I don’t know that an “advanced” #ppc will want to consume content meant to “teach” them (whereas beginner and mid-level folks are more open). The news and insider tips are positioned in a way that advanced folks can learn without hurting their egos. @navahf

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