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?

Affiliate Summit Videos, Are they Worth the Money?

affiliate summit videosI got a question about the Affiliate Summit Virtual Pass from a fan of this blog.  What they asked was, “Is it worth the money to buy an Affiliate Summit Virtual Pass if I can't attend?” Honestly “No” they are a waste of money.  I wouldn't spend any money to watch the Affiliate Summit Videos unless you already have a ticket and attended.

Part of the benefit of attending any conference is networking, meeting new people, networking, and more mmm… yeah… networking. What the Affiliate Summit Virtual Pass gives you is just videos of the talks and sessions.  Paying money to watch Affiliate Summit Videos is a waste.  The value you get from attending a conference is rarely in the sessions but the connections you make with people.

Most veteran internet and affiliate marketers are probably going to tell you the same thing.  Video education and learning online is great but it just doesn't make sense to pay for information you already know.  Attending the conference, in this case Affiliate Summit, for only 1 day is probably where you are going to get any benefit if you are going to get something out of it at all.

Let me put it to you this way, if you were to buy the Affiliate Summit Virtual Pass I think it is kind of like buying a sail-ship without a sail.  Yes, you still bought a boat and can put it in water and enjoy your purchase.  However to make it work you need a sail.  In addition you need to know how to operate it.

Personally at Affiliate Summit I did not come away with what I expected.  If you read my Affiliate Summit Review you will understand that a lot of companies and people that show-up you wouldn't want to work with.  Well, at least I don't.  That's why even though I won a ticket to Affiliate Summit West I'm not attending.

Like I said before there were a few sessions, which I attended, that I gained value from.  I've watched and listened to other Affiliate Summit sessions which just were not really worth the time though.  There was some good advice but nothing that really blew my mind.

In terms of the way the backend of the Affiliate Summit Video site there have been issues playing the Affiliate Summit Videos.  They freeze a often and sometimes take quite awhile to load.  Could be because the website is hosted with GoDaddy, which is know for pretty terrible hosting, or more likely an issue with the video service they are using.

Not sure how many people have the time or patience to watch or listen to ever single one of the Affiliate Summit videos anyway.  It's several hours of content and it would take you awhile to sort through the good and the bad.  There is actually a lot of similar info on Youtube, which is free.  Of course finding the useful videos on Youtube can be a challenge too.

Another thing to keep in mind is that from the time the Affiliate Summit videos go live you 6 months to watch them.  You will not be able to access them after 6 months to my understanding.  So it is not a pay once and get the content forever type of deal.  Kind of sucks but I guess that is Missy Ward and Shawn Collins choice.

That's my opinion about buying a Virtual Pass to watch the Affiliate Summit videos.  If you have an opinion, comment, or suggestions about it I'd be happy to hear it.

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.

Affiliate Summit Review – Total Waste of Time and Money

I just spent the past couple of days attending Affiliate Summit.  This was the first time I attended an Affiliate Summit and it was an interesting experience with it's ups and downs to say the least.  So I thought I'd write an Affiliate Summit Review letting people know what I thought of the event.

The conference has been quite a lot to absorb the past few days and I learned a lot. Mainly that people that particpate in affiliate marketing and go to affiliate marketing conferences, you know affiliate marketers, are unhelpful, selfish, annoying, and really kind of difficult to deal w.

To make understanding what Affiliate Summit is about and what you get when you go , I've broken it down into easy to understand sections.  This will also help better share my review, recap, and thoughts about attending Affiliate Summit in this Affiliate Summit Review. (In case you were wondering this is not a positive review.)

affiliate summit

Why attend Affiliate Summit?

The main benefit of attending Affiliate Summit, like most conferences, is networking and meeting new people and companies that can hopefully grow your online business and ventures and take them to the next level.

This is the main reason I spent my money to go Affiliate Summit.  I wanted to connect with companies and people that could help me figure out different revenue streams besides what I've used before.   The nice thing about Affialte Summit is that this is everyone else goal too, to make more money.

Affiliate Summit has a Meet Market to help facilitate this during the conference.  This is where companies setup booths and hawk their programs to potential clients and affiliates.  Think of it like “speed dating” but for making business contacts.  While the Meet Market was a bit chaotic and I spent many hours talking with different people and companies before I found the right matches.

What is confusing about the Meet Market is that not all the companies that they list in the directory setup and display on the same day.  This isn't clear and I was a bit annoyed when I realized this was the case.   A few companies I wanted to go talk with on Sunday, when Affiliate Summit East started, were not there so I had to wait until Monday.

There are also talks and sessions during the day you can attend but you must have a VIP or All Access past to go all of them.  If you have a Networking Plus Pass, like I did, technically you are only allowed to go to one a day.  In addition if you are new to Affiliate Summit there is a Newbie Affiliate Marketing Lab (of course I didn't find that all that useful) and a “Meet the Experts” session which was good.

What Type of People attend Affiliate Summit?

A wide range of people show up, this includes;

  • Companies looking to get into affiliate marketing and attract affiliates into their programs.
  • People or companies looking to buy web traffic.
  • People or companies looking to sell traffic.
  • Online publishers and bloggers searching for partnerships.
  • Affiliate marketing program managers trying to attract new affiliates.
  • SEO (search engine optimization) specialists and SEM (search engine marketers).
  • Media agencies that handle social media.
  • and even more.

This year they were 4,500+ attendees at Affiliate Summit East 2013, so you can imagine a lot of different people went.  I heard many people speaking foreign languages at Affiliate Summit.  I met people from Israel, China, Canada, Spain, and Germany.  So people come from all over the country and world to attend.

The majority of the age group that goes, from what I can tell, are in the 21-30 year old crowd.  There are older people and executives that attend but the organizers seem to want to cater to a young and hip crowd.   This was clear by some of the attractive girls working the front new attendee registration desk.

I met some interesting and helpful people at Affiliate Summit, but FYI there were few and far between.  Do you have a bad opinion about affiliate and internet marketers? If you think attending Affiliate Summit will change your mind about them, it won't.  It will only make you more jaded.

One guy that came up to me was trying to sell me on his payday loan affiliate network.  Eck!  Not only was I definitely not interested but I didn't even bother to use the energy to say I wasn't interested.  I just walked away and didn't say anything.  While this might be rude I don't want to associate myself with anything to do with payday loans.

There were several other companies there that work in that space too.  Additionally a lot of the affiliate programs there were for other shady shit.  For instance browser spyware downloads but… hey you earn $1.50 a download.

I personally don't' want to be involved with these companies.  Clearly a lot of people at Affiliate Summit have absolutely no problem with it. And internet and affiliate marketers wonder why they have a bad reputation?  Stop bitching!  You let these assfucks into your affiliate marketing conference.

FYI I wasn't the only person there who thought this.  Talking with a lot of other attendees they shared my views (and more importantly morals).  Even other ad networks I had meetings with seem to be aware of the spammers, scammers, and trolls making the rounds at Affiliate Summit.  They made it clear they have legitimate products and want to branch-out to more bloggers and online publishers.

It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.  Affiliate Marketers reputation for me was ruined in less than 30 seconds while talking with some of these companies and people.

What will I learn at Affiliate Summit?

This really depends on you as a person and what you came to Affiliate Summit for.  I wanted to learn about lead generation companies and how I could work with them.  In addition I wanted to get a lot of advice about improving web traffic and SEO (search engine optimization).

The talks might fill some of your learning and education needs but some of them probably won't.  I am pretty good at picking good talks to attend and luckily the 2 our of the 3 sessions I want to I felt were worth my time.  Talking with some other attendees a lot of people said that wasn't the case, since they were more interested in detailed info which the presenter did not provide.

Really the learning comes back to networking.  I learned more from having casual conversations with people.  I meet a guy from the England who knows a lot about email list building and making money from these huge email lists.  He has over 90,000+ subscribers and makes a full-time living doing it.  He was telling me a lot about what he does with his list which was waaay more valuable than anything I heard heard at previous talks on email marketing.

His email lists are so profitable he bought a Cessna.  In addition he bought and built a kit plane which he flew 15,000 hours around Europe.  All working from home.  How freakin awesome is that?

Also I hungout with a local SEO expert who used to work with SEER Interactive in Philadelphia.  (He was moving back to Salt Lake City.)  He taught me a couple things about local SEO that I did not know and we had some nice conversations about our web projects we want to launch, domain names, and topics related to the internet and web marketing.

There was still a lot I thought I would learn at Affiliate Summit though which I didn't get though.  Hopefully they will work on improving that.

How is the Venue and Location?

What made the experience even less fun for me was I really don't like Philadelphia.  Walking around I don't find it a particularly attractive city.  It feels like the city planners forgot to consider whether certain buildings would mesh sitting next to each other.  Also a good majority of the streets really smell which is big negative for me.  On top of that the only friendly people from Philly I talked with was Ben, from SEER Interactive, and the workers at the hotel.  Ben wasn't a native to Philly and of course the hotel staff will be nice, so that doesn't count.  Also I hate the Eagles.  (Ravens are the only birds I root for. )

Considering how much money they charge and how long the organizers have been doing Affiliate Summits I assumed they would have a lot more things nailed down.  They did move Affiliate Summit East from New York City to Philadelphia this year.  It seemed like they were not quite aware of how best to setup in the Philadelphia Convention Center most of the signs were not clear.  The nice thing was there was a lot of open space for tables which facilitated networking and talking.

I think for next year it would be nice if they moved it out of Philadelphia.  I noticed that Baltimore was a possibility and Charlotte were options.  I think either city would be much more ideal as I prefer smaller cities but not Philly.

How are the Affiliate Summit Parites?

The parties are well planned, executed, and organized.  Since the Affiliate Summit Parties seem to get pretty wild it seems that is why a lot of people attend.  They have open bars which are taken advantage of readily.  In addition Busta Rhymes and Evander Holyfield were at the party on Monday night.  I guess this is important if you want to go to parties with celebrities.

When I was sitting down talking with an ad network that specializes in content locking the company rep told me, “Yeah I've never seen people get so wasted.”  He mentioned that he went to the parties but had a lot of meetings, which were later cancelled due to people being hungover.

The thing is partying was not really my concern and why I showed up to Affiliate Summit East 2013.  Sure, I had a few beers and fun but I wasn't going to get wasted.  My main goal was learning and networking as much as possible.  I'll have plenty of opportunities to get drunk if I want to in the future.

Would you Return to Affiliate Summit?

I talked with a lot of people, that I didn't want to, and overall it was NOT a positivie experience for me. What I wanted to get out of Affiliate Summit I didn't and I wouldn't see a reason to go back again unless I was invited to be a speaker.  I doubt that will happen because of this honest Affiliate Summit review and recap.  I believe too many people are hungover to actually realize it is not a a good conference.

They do charge a pretty good amount for these tickets and a lot of the people that bought VIP and All Access passes felt it was worth it.

Final Thoughts about Affiliate Summit

Bottom line for me is I thought Affiliate Summit was a huge waste of my time and money.  I wouldn't use my resources on a Networking Plus Pass, airfare, hotels, and other expenses to attend again.

While you might read a lot of positive opinions about Affiliate Summit, keep in most of those people probably came to go to the parties.  So of course they are going to write positive things about it… they were drunk.

When I spend my time and money to attend a conference I expect to learn A LOT I don't already know.  From what I can tell a lot of people are regurgitating the same BS info which I don't need to hear.  I need to hear the tricks they know, but probably don't want to share, to really take myself to the next level.

If you attended Affiliate Summit East, or another Affiliate Summit before, what do you think about it?  Did you enjoy it or dislike it?  Would you go again in the future or was once enough?  Did you learn anything or find that you were teaching other people?

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]