Affiliate Summit West 2009 Recap and the Issues Ahead for the Year 2009 and Beyond

Affiliate Summit West 2009 in Las Vegas came to an end this Tuesday. I am always fascinated by the fact that I get something out of it, which I had no idea about when I entered the airplane in Fresno last weekend to go to the conference. Sure, I always like to get back in touch personally with the friends and business partners who I more often than I’d like to, neglected during the past months.

A large part of the year 2008 was again sucked away by some invisible force, which cannot be explained with any know law of physics. I just had the feeling that the year was by no means anything as close to 365 days in length. 120 days is probably much closer to the “felt” length of the previous year. No computer will change this feeling of mine. I know it were 365 days, but try to get this message to my intuition and my guts.

Getting Efficiency Back into Performance Marketing

I stumbled across an interesting article by Jeff Molander, CEO of Molander and Associates, which was published in May 2008 at the UK marketing research company blog by eConsultancy (like a Brit version of MarketingSherpa / MarketingExperiments).

I didn’t see this one when it was published it last year. As I mentioned already, it was written in May 2008. Now it’s January 2009. I suggest that you are going to read Jeff’s article, it is most certainly worth your time.

Where are we today? Did things change? … I don’t think that they did very much… a little bit, true, I have to be fair with that one.

The holistic approach should be taken beyond affiliate marketing and applied to all marketing activities that can be tracked somehow, online and offline (pay-per-call is getting more and more mature these days)

eBay Seems to be Leading the Pack once more

I attended this Tuesday at the summit a session by Steve Hartmann and William Martin-Gill from the auction giant eBay.com. The affiliate manager(s) from eBay were giving a presentation that I found pretty interesting. I did not follow the eBay program during the last year very much, I have to admit to my discredit, so what they were talking about was all news to me.

eBay does pay affiliates based on the value and quality of the business that they refer. This is not in beta, they doing this across the board today already.

This shift that eBay underwent after they moved their program away from Commission Junction and brought the whole program in-house was also causing a shift within their programs list of top 100 affiliate partners (they said that, not me). They were basically able to clean up the house. Sure, they lost some publishers over this, but why bother, those publishers were the ones that only sent low quality traffic along their way. The publishers who send great traffic on the other hand, saw their commission double and quadruple instead.

Affiliate Marketing Worldwide

Affiliate Marketing in Europe being behind the U.S.? Look again!

I also touch-based with some European affiliate networks and German OPMs, specifically with Deputy Managing Director Torben Heimann from TradeDoubler Germany (which does not have a presence in the United States … YET), Markus Kellermann Head of Affiliate Marketing and some of his colleagues from eXplido Web Marketing.

They actually implemented already tracking technology that is capable to provide analytics and commission structures attached to that data, which goes beyond the mere “last click” and “banner impression” of how U.S. Networks track stuff since the day when Amazon.com launched their partner program soon to be 15 years ago. They basically do some crude multiple-touch-point tracking of clicks and content views (e.g. video watches). Nothing as sophisticated as some of the top web analytics solution providers is capable of, but hey, it’s going into the right direction.

Nothing new from our old, big and fat networks here in the States. It seems that they try to ignore the changes around them for the greater part, hoping that things will be as good (for them) as they always were. I get the feeling that some executives at those networks (I won’t mention names) live in some state of denial of the realities of this industry.

Europe did not only catch up; they surpassed us already!

In 2003, Germany and the rest of Europe seemed to live in the affiliate marketing stone age. Over the years, this huge gap got smaller. After I learned at ASW about what they are already doing today, I’d say that there is no sign of this old gap anymore at all, quite the opposite… A gap is opening again, but this time the other way around.

U.S. based networks who continue to live in their bubble, will one day go down together with it, if they don’t start getting their act together soon and do some catching up with the rest of the people on this planet.

My Personal Affiliate Summit West 2009 Session and Panel Highlights

What was in my opinion the most Disappointing Session at ASW 2009?
Believe it or not, I was actually able to manage seeing a bunch of the educational sessions at the Summit. The picks that I made were pretty diverse. The first session where I was able to make it to on Sunday was the session/panel about “Ethical Issues in Affiliate Marketing“. It was moderated by Haiko de Poel Jr. from ABestWeb.com and included the panelists Brian Littleton, CEO of the affiliate network ShareASale, old-school super affiliate Connie Berg, founder and owner of the top-coupon web site FlamingoWorld.com, among other successful affiliate projects, OPM Chuck Hamrick from Affiliate Crew and last but not least a guy from a toolbar development company and subsidiary of Rakuten, who owns the LinkShare affiliate Network. (I am sorry, I cannot remember the guy’s name. He jumped in last minute for Paul Nichols from eBates.com)

The session was a bit of a disappointment for me. I don’t think that it was the fault of Haiko or any other panelist in the room that the session pretty much fell flat on its face and was over after 40 minutes already (20 minutes too short), because nobody had anything to comment, ask or say at the end.

I think that biggest problem was that right from the start more than just one major industry problem became the herd of elephants in the room. It was impossible to tackle all of them at the same time, because it takes much more than the time available for average comments and questions to even scratch the surface of just one of the issues that filled up the room like smog the L.A. city limits during rush hour in summer.

Maybe we should try one issue at a time the next time around. I don’t know. It’s tough and my suggestion to the approach of the subjects might falls as flat on its face as the approach last Sunday.

What was the IMO most Productive Session at ABW 2009?
I would say that is title has to go to the panel “Super Affiliate PPC Marketing Strategies” moderated by Anik Singal of Affiliate Classroom and panelists Rosalind Gardner, author of the Super Affiliate Handbook and CEO of WebVista, Inc., Colin McDougall, author of the VEO Report and CEO or the VEO 2.0 Elite Certification Course and last but not least, super affiliate and fellow blogger Amit Mehta, CEO of Performance Marketing Worldwide and author of the blog Super Affiliate Mindset.

The panel was very well moderated and thought through by moderator Anik Singal (hey, it’s the experience from teaching at Affiliate Classroom and PPC Classroom I guess). The panelists themselves were also top of the crop, long time affiliate marketing professional with hands on and real as reality gets experience in various different areas and niches of this industry.

It was demonstrating nicely to the audience that there is simply no silver bullet in this business. There are numerous different (and sometimes even conflicting) ways to be successful as an affiliate marketer.

Why I think that this session was the most productive? Very simple answer: All of the panelists were speaking  honestly about everything they did right and where they screwed up. No panelist was holding back any secrets and answered any of the many asked questions as good as humanly possible. I don’t think that anybody who was asking a question walked away without an answer or at least with a sack full of ideas and things to check, measure, verify or test.

After the session was officially over, all panelists remained where they were and did not leave until they responded to/answered the questions that people who approached them personally, were asking them. I stood next to a visitor who was getting a crash course in PPC campaign creation and initial testing by Amit. The tips were not vague at all… real figures and numbers were given. Tools mentioned by name and URL, even the personal unknown favorites, which might provide a cutting edge over competitors, while you know about them and they do not.

Very refreshing!

What was IMO the most Enjoyable Session at ABW 2009?
The session that was one hour long, but felt like 30 minutes or less, while getting a ton of specific tips and information, the none-specific, but bloody honest truth (test-test-test-test, don’t guess or assume = work), mixed in with some humorous, interactive and engaging segments to get the crowds full attention while at the same time help the listeners to relax a bit to be able to suck in more facts about a somewhat dry and boring subject. Well, a subject that involves hands on the job work, and separates facts from fiction. What I am talking about? “Landing Page Testing to increase Conversion“, presented all by its lonely self, Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTurner.com and author of the book “Landing Page Optimization“, which I can also highly recommend buying by the way. I wrote a short review about it on Search Engine Journal when it came out.

Tim knows his stuff and is not kidding around. At the same time he knows how to present structure and perform a presentation that is never boring for even a second and where you walk away from with the feeling and knowledge, that you learned something new, that you did not know or even thought about before the session.

What Else is New?

I did a video interview with Angel Djambazov, Marketing Manager at PopShops.com and Kellie Stevens from Affiliate Fairplay at Affiliate Summit West 2009 at the Rio all-suites hotel and casino, January 11-13, 2009, in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 13, 2009. The interview is about ReveNews.com where Angel is Editor in Chief and about Kellie’s commitment to write some posts for ReveNews.com, if Angel will send her some premium coffee from his home in Seattle, Washington. Kellie’s posts are something that is worth looking forward to. Kellie did win Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award for Affiliate Marketing Legend the day prior to this interview for some good reasons. Billy Kay also made a commitment I got told by Angel, but unfortunately I was unable to get this commitment on camera by Billy himself.

Here is the video interview. Also mentioned in the Video were Wayne Porter and Pat Grady.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7T5zyaNsrk[/youtube]

More ReveNews.com Bloggers Wanted
Furthermore, Angel mentioned that despite the various new ReveNews.com bloggers he was able to get to write and contribute to this blog, especially experts in the social media space; RN still needs some expert voice and opinions to other relevant and important subjects, such as Net Neutrality and/or Internet Security. Those subject used to be covered well in the past, by another Affiliate Marketing Legend (the first one actually) and co-founder of this web site, Wayne Porter.

Unfortunately does Wayne not write as much (and long, longer than mine, seriously hehe) as he used to not too long ago. This is sad, but nothing Angel or I can do much about it, except for hunting down some experienced security experts with some writing skills to fill the huge void that the absence of Wayne created here.

Some Fun at the End to Loosen Up a Little Bit
I published a second video, which is only one minute in length about the Affiliate Summit Triathlon. It’s actually a funny video. I hope you will enjoy it, but do not forget the serious issues that I was pointing out in this post over all this fun and excitement.

Affiliate Summit West 2009 Triathlon Best of – Crashes

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezz9hM9NgQU[/youtube]

Okay, that is enough now!

I can already see Shawn Collin’s face, when he looks at this post of mine and thinking to himself  “Gee, again one of Carsten’s overly long blog posts that I am not able to read entirely, because my attention span doesn’t exceed 500 words at one time“.  Sorry Shawn, but I hope that my paragraph headings will help that you are not missing too much of the facts and details of my post hehe.

Bonus: Full Video – Gary Vaynerchuk Keynote at Affiliate Summit West 2009

Cheers!

Carsten Cumbrowski

Check out my free collection of useful internet and affiliate marketing resources at Cumbrowski.com. All the hard research work done for you already, that you don’t have to. You’re welcome!

About Carsten Cumbrowski

Internet Marketer, Entrepreneur and Blogger. To learn more about me and what I am doing, visit my website and check out the “about” section.

Twitter: ccumbrowski

11 Responses to Affiliate Summit West 2009 Recap and the Issues Ahead for the Year 2009 and Beyond

  1. Excellent post & recap as usual Carsten….sorry we didn't connect and I'm also sorry that I got caught in a traffic jam at Hoover Dam Sunday afternoon and missed the ethics roundtable as I was planning on making it a bit more "lively" than it apparently was.

  2. Hey Carston,

    Thanks for such a glowing review of the Super Affiliate PPC Panel!

    That means a lot to the entire panel and it was an absolute pleasure speaking the standing room only audience!

    It was great seeing you again, although it was a very brief "hello"

    We really need these events to extend an extra few days just to catch up!

    Get in touch with me anytime Carston, would love to catch up

    Colin

  3. Hi Carsten,

    great recap. I was suprised but felt the same that US is not in front of Europe anymore reg. Affiliate Marketing. I experienced the same discussions on ethical matters and demand for more tranparency as we are having in Europe. The future can only be further more transparent and good quality. That's what we are striving for! Let's stay in touch on this.

    Best from Germany, Torben

  4. Pat Grady says:

    the Affiliate Summit session by Wil Reynolds (of http://www.thinkseer.com) was great, as always. his session is worth my entire cost of attending the Affiliate Summit conference. he shares openly and always has a completely new presentation ready for me to thoroughly enjoy.

    the Organic SEO Review panel was wonderful for me, I thought it was truly outstanding. having seo experts analyze sites from an seo perspective and discuss the why's and how-to-fix's for the problems they uncovered live for us all was fantastic. several lucky attendees got to suggest their own sites and get immediate insight and discussion on how to improve them. personally, i do well at seo, so my standards for sessions are high – these experts on the panel were truly impressive. they were all talented, sharp, fast, helpful, informative and wide open with valuable information. i sincerely hope that Summit keeps doing this exact session.

  5. Thanks for the recap especially the video. Angel you are unstoppable man. Everything you touch turns to gold. :)

  6. Pat being called out again. We just can't get enough of you man!

  7. Pat, I did unfortunately miss Wil's session this time. His session at each Affiliate Summit has been phenomenal. I am sure that this one was not an exception and look forward to watch the canned video version of it, once it is available at http://www.affiliatesummit.com/affsumvid/

    If you prefer smaller video bites, check out Wil's video channel at YouTube.com at http://www.youtube.com/wilreynolds

  8. Stephen: Thanks.. and yes, I am sorry too. I meant what I said on Facebook :)

    Colin: Kudos, where Kudos are earned and justified. Thanks for the great panel… and yeah, I should have dragged you out to the Luncheon hall when I had the chance :)

    Torben: Thanks. I was serious when we talked privately about the subject in Vegas. And you know what, I would not be surprised anymore, if Europe actually beats the U.S. to setting ethical rules and standards that are accepted by everybody in the region and also enforced.

    Stephanie: I am an Aeries (+ German) and call out Pat every day, if that would become necessary to get him to do the right thing. :)

  9. You hear that Pat? Do the right thing!

  10. Awesome recap, Carsten. I'm lovin the crash video :)

  11. andrew wee says:

    @Angel – interesting how you incorporate that segment abt the philosophy of writing that it has to flow, it can't be forced. Almost like mitochondrians and the "Force".

    @Kellie – writing for coffee? I think it already exists. It's called 'caffeinated content".

    :)

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