For the past couple of days I've been attending the Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York. (An amazing fact they're from South Norwalk. Who knew there was intelligent life there near my train station.) It's a place where large search engines, ad networks, advertisers, and publishers come together to learn about making more money. Interestingly I also saw quite a few companies like Sendtec which provide the lucre to e-mail spammers. I know this for a fact because I once sued Sendtec for sending me spam.
In any case there were a couple of things that struck me...in relation to my current job I'm responsible for mobile search. I was amazed how little has changed in the field over the past several years. The guy from Nokia's advertising group was still pitching the tried old idea of finding the Starbucks around the corner based on your GPS enabled location. There was still a lot of griping about how the carriers control the deck and maintain a semi-walled garden that discourages their users from finding other sites. And there is still no comprehensive directory to mobile sites. One of the biggest drawbacks in the mobile space is that there isn't any company that provides the equivelent of Google's AdSense that publishers can use to monetize their traffic.
Speaking about AdSense I did come across one of those mythical AdSense millionaires. Jeremy Shoemaker from Nebraska operates ShoeMoney.com. He started making $4.00/day and now makes more than $5,000. His main gig is a site that allows users to exchange mobile ringtones that they've created. Of course it's hard to know what type of overhead he has, but $1.5 million give or take is real money.
All in all I don't think that I learned much from this conference or saw anything that made me get out of my seat and say "Wow." The next Google definitely wasn't there.