I just got back from Affiliate Summit West 2011 and it was the largest Affiliate Summit to date. I think this was my 10th or 11th Summit and I cannot believe how large it has grown. The thing that usually shocks me about Affiliate Summit is that in years where I start to give up on Affiliate Marketing, or want to leave it for Search Land again, something happens at Summit that brings me right back in and recharges me to want to stay with an industry I love. Here is what I learned at Affiliate Summit West 2011, who I met and who stood out. This post will be broken out into a few sections, Who inspired me, Which merchants stood out, Which Affiliates stood out and Which vendors I will be working more closely with.
Who inspired me.
The people that inspired me at this show are the people who came to my session. I wasn’t on the original lineup of speakers but at the last minute I ended up added to the ask the experts roundtables and had a great time. Because I was added on the same day and only a few hours before my session, I showed up at my table not expecting anyone else to come. The next thing I know I looked up and was surrounded by people. Then all of the sudden other people started pulling up chairs around the people at the already full table. Pretty soon we even had people standing around the two rows of chairs. It was awesome! What was even better about it was that instead of the normal questions, “How do I recruit?”, “How do I approve or why should I decline?”, etc… the first three questions were “What are toolbars and how do I get rid of them?”, “How can I get rid of adware and PPV?”, then there was one about fraud and what I thought of the Networks session on fraud. Not only was this amazing to hear from a bunch of people who had never been in Affiliate Marketing before, but they also had never been to a show before. Someone on the floor was talking about real issues instead of hiding them from the main stream like some OPMs and some of the Networks do.
We went over that Opt in is a load of crap and also showed live demos and video of adware that was stealing from companies that were at the show. (Thank you Kellie Stevens from AffiliateFairPlay.com and ABestWeb.com.) It always amazed me about the serious lack of ethics that a small part of this industry had shown and to have a bunch of new people bring up and want to take action on it was amazing! Thank you to the people who came and asked those questions. Because of you I am motivated to stay in Affiliate Marketing and continue to help educate on bad players, adware and helping people to find legit and good OPMs.
Which Merchants Stood Out.
There were tons of Merchants at the show. There were companies of all sizes there and each of them were learning different sides of the industry. Some wanted to find out if they should move into CPA Marketing and others wanted to find which Affiliate Network would be right for them. Each one was able to find a giant resource of information and here are a few that stood out to me that I am very excited to start working with.
Justin from Stupid.com on Share a Sale. Stupid.com is a program managed by Greg Hoffman Consulting and the store rep is Justin. Greg is a nice person who I have known for a couple of years now. After meeting Justin and Stupid.com at Think Tank 2010 last year and Justin remembering my love of Bacon, he has promised me a bacon products datafeed. This is something that I think almost anyone could make money with. Stupid Bacon Products at great price points will cause me to add them to my sites this year. Justin also took my recommendation and put quantity left in his datafeed. He also no longer includes products with under 30 units left as they sell out quickly and that creates a bad user experience for Affiliate’s traffic. This is a Merchant that listens to value adding Affiliates and Greg has always been responsive with me when I had questions. Greg is a good Affiliate Manager and will be getting exposure on my sites this year and you should definitely check out the products on Stupid.com. Greg also has a really cool program called FlirtyAprons.com which is also on Share a Sale.
Growth Spurt Media. Liz Gazer out of Toronto Ontario continued to impress me. If you go with Liz I will definitely be adding any program she manages to my sites where they have a good fit. Contact Liz directly if you need help with launching a program. She is aggressive and well connected.
Acceleration Partners. Robert Glazer is the sh*t. We share a lot of the same values and theories on how to manage a program. If he will personally be managing your program then you are in good hands. If you are looking for an OPM then write him asap! In my opinion he is trustworthy and ethical and I am going to focus on working on his programs this year. Waxing Poetic Jewelry on Share a Sale and his Tea program are the ones I can see having a ton of potential for my sites and that I will be adding. I also need to go to his site and see what else he has on his client list now.
Custom Tailored Marketing. Angel and Renee are incredible. If you want someone who doesn’t feed you a load of crap and uses solid judgment, Custom Tailored Marketing is that group. Angel has won the Affiliate Summit Manager of the Year award twice for his Affilliate Marketing Management Company and he definitely deserves it. Here’s to ethics and telling you the truth about what he thinks!
GTO Management. GTO is the company that does big things but keeps a low profile. The thing I love about them is they don’t put up with crap, they are innovative and don’t put up with adware theft. If you have a toolbar, couponware, loyaltyware, reminderware, etc… and they find it, you are gone. I haven’t worked with them much in the past but that will change this year. Check out their site for their list of seriously cool and niche merchants like BowlingShirts.com and their home brewery program.
GirlyChecks.com on Share a Sale – JillyBeans and Bill are amazing people. Their checks affiliate program is one that is absolutely amazing and being very well managed. They have an incredibly great mix of products and unique designs and I have to also commend Debbie from Team Loxly on her amazing photography skills. GirlyChecks.com is a program I will definitely be promoting a lot more heavily this year.
Which Affiliates Stood Out.
Tricia Meyers and Sunshine Rewards. Sunshine Rewards is above and beyond one of the best loyalty cash back websites out there. They have a ton of fraud control in place and do not use adware. Tricia Meyers is an incredible person that understands adding value to Merchants and helping to build a brand. Don’t let the blond hair and bubbly attitude fool you, she is also one of the smartest people I have ever met. If she is not in your programs then you are missing out.
Mark Silliman. Mark is someone that continues to amaze me. We had dinner at the Wynn Buffet and I actually shut up for a second to listen to him talk. Mark is amazingly smart and knows how to diversify his portfolio of companies and sites. Not only is he successful, but he does what he is passionate about then finds ways to incorporate it into his business. I’m not going to list his sites but he can come here and post a backlink if he wants to.
Eric Schwarzer – The thing that I love about him is that he loves a challenge and is a problem solver. He takes insane amounts of data, sorts it and creates revenue driving content sites that add tons of value to merchants. What I like even more is that his brain is always moving. He is a lesser known superstar Affiliate that you have to know as he can drive long term traffic and value to your company.
Kristi (Kikolani) – Smart and personable, Kristi is absolutely amazing. She is not only an extremely well connected Search and Social Media Blogger, but Kikolani is also a really cool and down to earth person. If you don’t subscribe to her blog you should really start. It was great meeting you in person!
Tim Ash – So I had already met Tim a bunch of times, but this time I got him laughing. How is that centerfold photo btw? Tim is just a cool person. If you know him then good for you, if you don’t then you are missing out on someone who is to smart for his own good.
Which Vendors I Will Be Working More Closely With.
Impact Radius – If you need multiple channel tracking with some of the smartest people on earth, Lisa Riolo and Todd Crawford of Impact Radius are the people who can do this for you. Their system not only tracks multiple channels in one place, but allows you to buy media and bid out competitive prices with large vendors and websites. Impact Radius is definitely something you will want to check out.
Ring Revenue – I have known about them for a while but never really incorporated their solution into my Client’s sites. Because of some people telling me about how much they love them I am definitely going to be calling them at some point in the next couple of weeks.
Affiliate Summit has grown into a massive show combining CPA Marketing with Affiliate Marketing. The attendees are a goldmine of knowledge, traffic and contacts that everyone could use. Affiliate Summit is a show that I highly recommend and think everyone should attend. Make sure to book your tickets early as they usually sell out. Thank you again Shawn and Missy for an incredible show and I cannot wait to see you at ASE11.