Unlike previous affiliate summits I attended, this time I had to skip all after hours activities – I was moving to a new apartment two days after ASE ended and had to pack (… and if you’re interested in hearing how that went, check out this post. Spoiler: there’s criminals, police and ransom. For real.)
I figured: since I’m doing less networking, I might as well focus more on the sessions. And so, I attended more sessions and have taken more notes than any other affiliate summit – and probably any other conference I’ve been to in the last several years. Perhaps because of this the summit, to me, felt completely different than any of the others (more educational?). Consequently, in this coverage of the event I’ll focus much more on sessions summaries than I did last year. I’ll also probably dedicate individual posts to some particularly interesting sessions.
Affiliate summit East 2010 started with the Meet Market. The Meet Market is a great place to meet vendors, networks, other affiliates and old friends. Not to mention getting some free stuff. It’s always a fantastic way to start the conference since the dynamic atmosphere gets everyone in the mood for networking.
Interestingly, two sessions I attended during the first day had a common theme – trying to look into the future of affiliate marketing and see how we can prepare for it (regardless of the sessions’ titles).
Innovate! New Exciting Applications of Affiliate Marketing
This was a pretty interesting session. It started with the history of affiliate marketing. Did you know that the first affiliate offer originated in the adult industry back in 1994? Specifically, by a company called CyberErotica? I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Amazon came next in 1996.
The session focused on trends and the future of affiliate marketing, something which every one of us who intends to be in the business a few years from now should find valuable. Some interesting projections:
In 2008 the affiliate “Ubiquity era” started and is expected to last until 2013. During this time we can expect
- Recognizable affiliate consumer brands (already happened).
- Major brands have affiliate programs – 20,000 affiliate programs in 2010! (already happened).
- Crowdsourcing becoming increasingly hot (happening now).
- New ways to ‘mashup’ datafeeds with apps to create user value.
- New automatic storefronts (i.e. PopShops).
- New automatic ways to link affiliate offers to content. SkimLinks links keywords to affiliate offers and is geo-targeted, too. Pixazza associates products right with the image source – this means that if a user views an image, he sees relevant affiliate offers (i.e. if the image is of a person wearing sunglasses, links to the sunglasses, other items shown, even the camera type, would appear).
After 2013, the “Affilination Era” will begin and will be characterized by
- Social media dominance: the activity stream will be affiliated (i.e. Foursquare links to physical products).
- Microaffiliates: everyone can be an affiliate and get tiny commissions (the example given was that of people referring other people to Domino’s Pizza and getting commissions).
- Micropayments become increasingly common (as a side note, I attended a talk about a year ago by a company that intends to offer ways to do micropayments which would be integrated with Twitter. A lot of potential there).
- Microtrends: we could find hot product sales by the hour or day.
- Pre-purchase click data: we’ll have data about the products that are viewed before they are purchased. Which are the most popular?
New Lead Generation Models: Social-Mobile-Viral
This session provided a good followup to the previous one by suggesting that the future of marketing won’t be characterized by selling pain (trying to sell by appealing to emotions such as fear or pain – scaring the target audience) but rather by selling pleasure.
Several examples were given such as Facebook games: people stay on the site because they enjoy it, and we would have better success by satisfying this need. Another example given was LibraryThing – a social network of people who like talking about books: people stay on this site because they enjoy it, and it brought significant revenue to the creators by affiliating the site with Amazon.
The speaker suggested that that the best way of ‘going viral’ would be to stop doing hype and treat people as people: “People aren’t eyeballs – they’re friends”.
An additional observation was – unsurprisingly – that the world is currently shifting from desktops to mobile phones. Since everything in mobile is smaller and people are on the move, we have to take that into consideration when marketing using this channel. Smaller banners, shorter ads, shorter emails. Basically reformat everything so that it may fit with an audience that isn’t necessarily at home next to a personal computer.
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