Brogan! Howes! Shankman! Yea, It Was Affiliate Summit East
Earlier this week, Affiliate Summit East rocked the shizzle. OK, so that's a lame way of putting it but, well, this conference always turns out to be one of the most informative and fun. Particularly because it's peripheral to the world of "regular" advertising.
Affiliate marketing is a segment of marketing that doesn't get much mainstream advertising press. Why? Because it doesn't consist of sexy, :30 spots made by primadonna ad agencies which are concerned, mostly with winning awards. Affiliate marketers, on the other hand, care mainly about one thing; making money. (Yes, I have written this exact paragraph before)
Not that "regular" advertising isn't about making money but Affiliate Marketing leaves the flash behind and focuses entirely on the substance of things.
Here's another great definition: "Affiliate marketing widens the scope of your internet presence by encouraging other websites to become advocates for your services, increasing your online exposure and improving the efficiency of your advertising spend."
One of the more interesting aspects of Affiliate Summit is the Meet Market. On Saturday, the first day of the conference, simple tables are set up in a large room where merchants and affiliate networks can talk to publishers about the kinds of programs they have and what might work best. It's a bit different than your typical exhibit hall with fancy booths and glossy presentations. The Meet market is all about sitting down together and doing actual business.
The conference also incorporated two non-club social events which were held in the Hilton Hotel as opposed to a club for those who don't like that sort of scene. The first, Affiliate Summit Tweetup, was held Sunday night. There were drinks, music and much conversation.
The second non-club event was held Monday night and its focus was, OMG, karaoke. Yes, karaoke. It's not my thing but a lot of people got up there, sober and drunk, and shared their talents. Some were, shall we say, less than talented. At least Thesis' Chris Pearson was there which made it cool.
In his Monday Keynote, Chris Brogan spoke about his new book, Trust Agents, which he defines as "digitally savvy people who use the web to humanize businesses using transparency, honesty and genuine relationships." And yea, one could say it's yet another collection of business blather but it's also common sense. Be human. Act human. Don't act like a machine. See a round up of Brogan's keynote here.
The first session I attended with my conference mate, Carla Marie Ciampa (whose blog you should really read. It's about how movies influence your life. Go easy. She's just getting started), was Personal Branding 2.0 with Porter Novelli EVP Stephanie Agresta and Pop17's Sarah Austin. The pair spoke about the importance of establishing your personal brand online. With social media allowing one to do so and the simple fact you will change jobs many times in your career, having personal brand that stands out will keep you in the game.
In another panel entitled Web 2010 - Ten Trends Defining Your Future, Ten Golden Rules CEO Jay Berkowitz, in his usual fantastic form, spoke about microcommunications, disintermediation, the widgitization of everything, personal branding, the "freeness" of everything and the semantic web. Jay always enraptures the audiences with his plethora of facts and quick-paced moe of delivery. You can take a look at his presentation here.
In a panel entitled The Conversation Prism v 2.0, Brian Solis, Principal of FutureWorks, explained to the audience the importance of engaging in conversation online, the power of social media tools to do so and how this conversation observation, participation and "digital anthropology" can benefit a business.
At the end of Day Two, a session entitled Ask the Experts allowed attendees to pair with affiliate marketing experts and discuss a range of topics including landing page optimization, search marketing, strategies for evaluating merchant partners (whose stuff to pimp), online video, niche site promotion, monetizing social media, and getting paid. It was a sort of speed dating for affiliate marketing.
Other random events such as Chris Brogan's book signing and having lunch with the ever-talkative Peter Shankman lent further highlight to the conference. While having her copy of Trust Agents signed, Carla met Lewis Howes, former two-sport collegiate All-American and NCAA All-Division Record Holder for the most receiving yards in a single football game (418 yards, currently an unofficial World Record), and, of course, had to have her picture taking with him. After all, how often does a girl get to hang with a sporting hottie like Howes?
Closing the conference was the Affiliate Summit Triathalon, a very humorous competition i which, among other things, contestants rode motorized toilets (yes, motorized toilets) through a blow up balloon race track all to benefit Big brothers Big Sisters of New York.
And then there were the parties. But that's a topic for another article. All in all, Affiliate Summit was an amazing experience. If you are a marketer or an agency and you've heard of this thing called affiliate marketing but don't really know what it is, you really should. Read about it. Learn what it's all about. attend a conference. There's a lot more to advertising than pretty pictures and over-produced TV spots. But be forewarned. It is a lot of work and you won't see the benefits over night. But when you do, you'll be glad you put in the time and the effort.