Now I’ve had a chance to get over the jetlag, read through my notes and make some sense of it all I thought I’d jot down a few points that might help anyone planning on attending one of these events in the future.
My Summit Objectives
My main objectives, scribbled down on the plane on the way there were:
1) Find ways to monetise the increasing US traffic to some of my sites
2) Look out for any new sectors that might be growth areas in the UK in the next 1-2 years
3) Look for new ways of gathering traffic to my sites, other than the tactics I already use.
Interestingly, the 3 elements of the summit solved each of these.
The exhibitors surrounding the conference provided ample new networks and direct merchants to give me offers for my various sites and email lists, the networking events gave me a chance to talk in more depth with network staff and other affiliates about the US market, and the conference stream gave me a stack of ideas about where to go looking for more traffic, and some new site ideas.
One thing I wasn’t really expecting was the amount of new tips I’d pick up from big US affiliates. Something I hadn’t really expected,was how affiliate oriented the whole event was. Any US affiliates will probably be thinking “DUH” if they read this, it was the affiliate summit after all. My experience in the UK has been that events are to a large degree run by networks for the benefit of merchants, and that even the A4U events are heavily dominated in content by networks and merchants, and the affiliates play their cards quite close to their chest.
This was a very different event though. Firstly it was organised by affiliates, secondly, and most importantly a large portion of the conference content was delivered by affiliates. These were sessions where high earning affiliates would stand up and give some quite explicit detail about the strategies they use, and some of the tools also. Business visions, company structures and resources and even processes were delivered in some depth.
Only the specifics of what sectors and merchants the speakers worked in were kept under wraps.
Pride in making money is part of the American psyche, and the market is so huge that as long as you don’t give a carbon copy of your sites and keyword lists away, there’s enough to go round. Put together and affiliates of a size you’d never see much of in the UK were giving some very generous tips indeed.
The sessions were structured so that both merchants and affiliates could get an idea of the strategies of the successful top tier affiiates, and how to work with them or emulate their success, occasionally these lines were blurred and some of the sessions would benefit from being flagged as to which audience they were aimed at – some of the stuff about ’sites that convert’ were a case in point, constantly flipping between affiliate and merchant site which follow very different rules.
Web 2.0 – Close but no cigar
From my own point of view, the sessions were pitched at a level that wasn’t either baffling or trite. Maybe a brand new newbie might have struggled with some parts, and I doubt the top PPC guys learnt many new tricks, but I saw some far more experienced affiliates than I make few notes here and there so I don’t think it was a waste of time for them either.
There was also mass of information on Web 2.0 strategies that is still new territory for anyone. All those sessions were very short on how to monetise social media (short of becoming a ‘Guru’ and getting a few speaking gigs!), but I feel we’re getting closer to it.
I was a bit disappointed about the absence of any mention of email in the sessions I went to, but maybe that went on in other sessions, or can be dealt with in the UK later this year, maybe it is seen as old hat in the US now?
Putting it into action
So will I be going to Affiliate Summit London? Well, maybe.
Why not definitely?
Because I have about 40 pages of notes to distil down and turn into an action plan that will probably last me at least a year!
If the Summit taught me one thing it is that the top players have set themselves very clear goals about what they do and pursue them with infinite energy and persistence, so this summer is going to be spent doing just that. Maybe then, in a few years time I might get the chance to pass some of that knowledge on at a future summit.