Are Affiliate Marketers just Spammers?

affiliate marketersRecently I was reading a book on SEO (search engine optimization) and I noticed the author used the term “Affiliate Marketers” in the book.  He was not using the term “Affiliate Marketers” in a positive way though as he used the phrase in place of “spammers” when referring to people that utilize Black Hat SEO techniques to rank websites in Google and other search engines.

Usually when I read SEO books, report, or material I see the terns such as spammers, black hatters, link spammers, etc.  The author of this SEO book decided the correct term was “Affiliate Marketers” which from what I could tell meant he had an extremely negative opinion of people that refer to themselves as Affiliate Marketers.  In addition he didn't seem to believe that affiliate marketing provided that great of an ROI (return on investment) and does not provide value for small to medium eCommerce businesses the majority of the time.  (Unless they have the resources to manage an affiliate program.)

I don't want to reveal what the book I was reading was and who the author is but I find it interesting that well respected figure on SEO would take this stance.  Since attending Affiliate Summit I would have to agree with the author though.  Honestly there were lots of successful affiliates there that make tons of money being spammers basically.  Their goal is to make the most money and they will use as many Black Hat SEO methods to rank in Google (and Bing I guess) as long as they work.  They don't produce content so their usually course of action is to scrape it from other blogs or websites, throw the text into an article spinner, and then run some scripts or automated backlinking software to rank a site for 1 week to a few months.  The affiliate link laden deal or coupon sites then earns a shitload of money before the affiliate company knows they are victim of affiliate fraud or the site gets de-indexed by Google.  Often times though Google's search engineers are too idiotic to actually read search results (because they are math nazis) and take down a spammy website until it's waaay to late though.

Do I think affiliate marketing is completely bad?  No, not at all since I use affiliate links on this site.  I just do it in a way that's reasonable and I'm completely upfront when I use affiliate links.  I've build mini-sites before but after Penguin 2.0 I've found they don't do well.

While I think there's a middle ground in terms of Black Hat and White Hat SEO techniques, affiliate marketers can't legitimately got to conferences like Affiliate Summit and complain about the bad reputation you get in the business.  Most of my assumptions about people that engage heavily in affiliate marketing were really only confirmed and cemented.

Do you think it's fair for Search Engine Optimizers to have such a negative opinion of Affiliate Marketers?  If you do affiliate marketing and consider yourself an “affiliate marketer” why do you think most internet marketing professionals have the view that you are just spammers?

I won a ticket to Affiliate Summit West, but I won’t be Attending

affiliate summit westSome of my regular readers might remember that I won a ticket to Affiliate Summit East this past Summer.  Well, guess what?  I won a Networking Plus Pass to Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas coming up in January.  This marks the second time I've won a free ticket to an Affiliate Summit conference.  🙂  However, I won't be attending Affiliate Summit West since I have other projects I'm working on and honestly… it's not worth and I just don't feel like going.

If you read my Affiliate Summit Review detailing the conference then you will obviously know why I will not be attending again.  Probably some of you reading this that have gone to past Affiliate Summit's will understand as well.  Why do I mean?  There are tons of useless annoying fuckers that attend.

Heres's the the thing, most internet focused conferences I've attended usually these different groups of people attending;

  1. People that are genuinely helpful.
  2. People that don't know anything and shouldn't have shown up.
  3. Companies looking for marketing opportunities or to expand, sell, partner, etc.
  4. Assholes that are trying to get you to buy “whatever” they are selling under any circumstance even if it's shit.

I didn't write about this in my Affiliate Summit Review but there were lots of people in the #4 category.  When I say a lot I'm talking about 60%+ of the people who were not from companies.  Most of the time there are 2 or 3 of these people at a conference, not a majority.  Talking with fraction of the people that showed up to Affiliate Summit that were not trying to sell me useless shit this clearly wasn't a fluke as they felt the same way.

One guy I ran into who supposedly is an expert at driving social media traffic wouldn't give me any real world examples of what he does.  He also wouldn't give me any social media advice or tips on the spot.  However, he did try to get me to buy his rather costly book and webinar series, which I declined.

I made a real effort to try to meet a wide range of people to engage and learn.  What I found was most of them gave me the same song and dance as this social media scam artist.  They wanted me to buy their books, pay for consulting, or you know screw me out of my money.  I remember one guy that had some BS private forum and was telling me how great his conversions were like 70% percent or some ridiculously high number.  I asked, “How do you get such high conversions.” his response, “Pay to join my private forum.” my reply, “Hell no!” and I walked away.

This was a similar conversation I had with people in all sorts of fields. Why would I buy anything from you if you don't want want to share knowledge?  For most attendees you already paid the entrance fee, paid for a hotel, and showed the hell up.  If I can't take anything away useful from you it is very unlikely I'm going to consider using buying anything from you in the future whether it be a book or consulting.  I guess the hard up-sells must work on some people.

Last conference I attended there was a blogger I met that didn't know about Google Webmaster Tools and didn't have it installed on her blog.  I just got out my laptop and set it up for her on the spot.  I don't mind helping pope when I know they put in effort to come to these events.

Most beginners, people who have only had a website up for a few months, looked somewhat confused by everything at Affiliate Summit honestly.  From talking with a lot of people about I doubt they felt they got a lot out of the conference.  Also  I was kind of surprised at the advice I was giving people there.

Keep this in mind, I could take the free pass to Affiliate Summit West and go have tax-deductible fun in Las Vegas (aka Sin City) for several days.  Flights to Las Vegas are ridiculously inexpensive from most major cities since casinos subsidize airline tickets.  You can find a reasonably priced hotel if you play your cards right.  (Yup, pun intended.)  Affiliate Summit parties have open bars which a lot of people will readily use… but it's still not worth going.  That's saying a lot.

I'll have other chances to go to Las Vegas since there are plenty of web conferences held there throughout the year.  It's not like I'm missing out on anything I can't go experience another time you know.

I did send a request to the Affiliate Summit people asking if they could at least give me the Virtual Pass, which shows the videos of the sessions afterwards, in exchange for the Networking Plus Pass.  I figured at least I won the pass and they should give me a Virtual Pass.  Besides out of ALL the sessions I only found 2 useful from Affiliate Summit in Philadelphia.  (Luckily they were the 2 I went to.  I'm good at cherry picking good sessions at conferences.)  Here was their reply;

 “Unfortunately, the pass is not transferable in any matter, so we cannot replace it with a virtual pass.”

So not only is Affiliate Summit a waste of time but the organizers are inflexible.  It's their conference and their rules though.  Of course the video player in the backend for the Affiliate Summit Videos was a freeze monkey, so I guess I should be glad they are saving me the hassle of dealing with that and not having to watch and skip a lot of badly recorded sessions.

Even though I am not attending people are probably curios to know how I won both tickets to two different Affiliate Summit conferences.  The first ticket was provided courtesy of an eBay contest which was posted on the eBay Partner Network blog.  (That's eBay's affiliate program.)  All I did was leave a valuable comment about what I thought the best opportunity was in Affiliate Marketing.  eBay provided me with a Networking Plus Pass since I was an awesome commenter.  This ticket to Affiliate Summit West I won from actually attending Affiliate Summit East.  They have people fill out forms after sessions and keynote speakers to let us know what we thought about them.  They randomly pick 5 cards each day and one of the feedback forms I filled out was one.

Are you planning on attending Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas?  If you haven't ponied up the money to go, did this article change your mind? Let me know in the comments below.

If you are looking at any other conferences remember to checkout my tips for attending a conference inexpensively.  There's some good advice I've complied there.

If you've got questions you want to ask me privately about Affiliate Summit feel free to contact me by the way.  I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about it.

I’m Heading to Affiliate Summit East

affiliate summit east

I thought I would let all my readers know that I will be heading to Affiliate Summit East 2013 taking place in Philadelphia from August 18th-20th.  I was fortunate enough to win a Network Plus Pass courtesy of eBay.  They had a contest on the eBay Partner Network Blog, which is their affiliate network, and I gave the best answer to the question, “What is the biggest opportunity in Affiliating Marketing today?”

Here is my response using the username CarNewsCafe, which is my new auto news site that you should totally check if you haven't.

This might sound strange to some but I think the best opportunity in affiliate marketing is educating people about it. I've met a number of successful bloggers that surprisingly don't know what affiliate links are. Someone I know with a successful photography blog and YouTube channel didn't know that eBay had an affiliate program. I recommended he check it out since his audience buys a lot of gear on eBay.

I thought my answer was the best and pretty well thought out.  What do you think?  Have another answer to that question you think is better?  Leave a comment below and prove me wrong.

The reason I said this is I recently recommended the eBay Partner Network to my uncle who runs a successful photography blog and has a Youtube channel with almost 2 millions views.  People that are into Lo-Fi photography buy a lot of stuff on eBay and he didn't even know they had an affiliate program.

The ironic thing to me is that eBay and other affiliate marketing programs ‘preach to the choir' but don't to people, like my uncle, who could really benefit from these affiliate programs.  I've met a number of bloggers who are quite successful and have a lot of traffic and large social media following and they don't do affiliate marketing.  They mainly do paid ads or sponsorships which always surprises me.

Anyway, I am excited to be going to Affiliate Summit East and learn about affiliate marketing which is something I know how to do but not that well.  Hopefully I can pickup some advice and tips at Affiliate Summit East this year from expert affiliate marketers to help grow and take my online businesses and websites to the next level.   I will share my thoughts about Affiliate Summit and some of the tips and tricks I learned on this blog, so stay tuned for those posts.

If you will be attending Affiliate Summit please send me an email – cool AT adamyamada.com – or catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada.  I'd love to meet and connect with you if you are a blogger, publisher, advertiser network, or just want to talk.

If you have been to Affiliate Summit East in the past please let me know what I should do to maximize my time and get the most out of the conference.  With a Networking Plus Pass I can only attend 1 session per day but I still think I should get a lot out of the conference.  Partying included! 🙂

[Source – eBay Partner Network Blog]