The BackstorySo, what were we doing at the Affiliate Summit East in the first place? Honestly, we're still not entirely sure, but we know that we have Connie Roberts to thank. We met Connie at BlogHer and when we told her that we were New Yorkers, she said that we should definitely check out the Affiliate Summit. After BlogHer she helped us make the right connections to apply for and secure some last minute press passes. Thanks, Connie!
We were familiar with the basics of affiliate marketing before we attended (although we admit that we didn't know there were whole conferences centered around it), so we pretty much attended ASE '10 with open minds and not entirely sure of what to expect.
The HotelThe Affiliate Summit was held at the Hilton New York. Since we were just there for BlogHer '10, we felt right at home. We're going to start stopping by periodically just to hang out at the Bridges Bar. We did notice that the hotel was a lot less engaged with the ASE attendees than they were with the BlogHer attendees - no activity on twitter and no special events or contests for conference attendees - but we're not sure if that was the hotel's choice or the ASE organizers'. Either way, the ASE people totally missed out on free brownies, which sucks for them.
The SessionsHere's a rundown of all of the sessions that we attended:
- Innovate! New Exciting Applications of Affiliate Marketing
Presenter/Panelists: Joe Stepniewski, Skimlinks (@digijoe)
Best Tips: Apparently affiliate marketing is "a perfect storm for innovation". There's a lot of cool stuff going on right now with sites like Empora (a fashion search engine that can help you comparison shop for particular items, colors, brands, etc.) and PopShops (where you can basically build your own "store" with products from all over the internet). There's also a trend toward sites like Groupon where you can get some kind of deal or discount if you can get a big enough group to buy together.
Favorite Buzzwords: Affilination, Referratization
Other Observations: This was the first session that we attended, so we were wondering just how out of place we were going to feel. Then both cyber-erotica and AdultFriendFinder were mentioned within the first 15 minutes, and we relaxed. We also really dug Joe's half-Aussie, half-British accent (totally unrelated to the quality of the session, but it was nice to listen to).
- More Money, Same Traffic, List Building and Paths
Presenter/Panelists: Jason Akatiff, Coleadium Inc. (@smaxor)
Okay, full disclosure: We left this session early because we had no clue what Jason was talking about. That's not really a criticism; it just wasn't for us. One thing we will say is that we weren't overly impressed that he introduced his presentation by saying, "I did this PowerPoint on the plane on the way here. I'm really busy." Then he was briefly confused by one of his own slides and asked a buddy in the audience, "Does this math look right to you?" He also insisted repeatedly that "affiliates are lazy". Um, okay. Moving on.
Also, this was listed as a Beginner level session, but it clearly wasn't geared toward actual beginners like us.
- Using Social Media for SEO
Presenter/Panelists: Joshua Ziering, Full Speed SEO (@joshuaziering)
Best Tips: Focus on promoting your own site over driving traffic to social networking sites that may be irrelevant in a few years. (Myspace anyone?) Don't create "paralysis through analysis" by giving users 10,000 sites where they can connect with you. Do common sense stuff like making sure a link to your site is in your Twitter profile and making sure that profile isn't too vague or cutesy and actually explains who you are and what you do. (Ours describes us as evil, slutty, and cliquey, so we clearly pass that test.) Go around your site and make a list of "social opportunities", and create "artificial status" for your users.
Favorite Buzzwords: One of our favorite things about this session was the lack of jargon and buzzwords. But we did enjoy this typo in the session description: "If you thought Twitter was just for talking about great BBQ and Facebook was just for making old girlfriends jealous - thing again." We're still pointing at each other and shouting "thing again!" at random moments...because we're hilarious.
Other Observations: Joshua Ziering was by far the funniest speaker of all the sessions we attended. He made SEO fun and we were cracking up the whole time, but we were surprised by the lack of reaction from the rest of the audience. Not sure if they just didn't get the humor or they just held back their laughter because Search Engine Optimization is "serious business", but either way, we were surprised.
- Avoiding the Google Slap
Presenter/Panelists: Dush Ramachandran, ClickBank (@DushR) and Frederick Vallaeys, Google AdWords Evangelist (@siliconvallaeys)
This is another one to file under "not for us". We knew that the focus of this session would be on people who create and run Google ad campaigns, but we thought it also might touch on issues for people who run Google ads on their blogs or websites, and it didn't. But we can say that there was a lot of helpful information for the people that it did apply to, and it was great that they actually had someone from Google who could really answer questions and also stayed after the session to have one-on-one conversations with people about specific problems that they were having.
- Affiliate Marketing in a Digital World
Presenter/Panelist: Zahid Khan, Amazon.com (@AmazonAssociate)
Best Tips: Some people are still hesitant to purchase digital content or to try different categories like eBooks, but they'll be more willing to give it a shot if you can offer them something for free first. (Digital versions of a product are usually cheaper which is also a selling point.) There are some widgets out there right now that make it really easier to provide preview clips of music or sample chapters of books that you're talking about on your blog.
Favorite Buzzwords: It sounds a lot fancier to say "I was purchasing some digital content earlier today" when what you were really doing was buying that "I'm only gonna break break your break break your heart" song for your iPod.
Other Observations: Even though the presenter works for Amazon, he was very fair in mentioning other products like the Nook and the iPad rather than just the Kindle, and in answering questions about the pros and cons of Amazon's affiliate program versus similar ones like iTunes.
- Affiliate Freakonomics: Market Quirks at Work
Presenter/Panelists: Oliver Roup, VigLink (@oroup)
Best Tips: Don't obsess over traffic. You don't need a huge site to make money, and sometimes smaller sites that do things better can make more than sites that are 10 times more popular. Trust matters. Being honest and using disclosures actually helps your site to perform better.
Favorite Buzzword: Outclicks!
- Strategies for Marketing to Women