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?

The following two tabs change content below.
  • I’m sorry that you didn’t have as great an experience at Affiliate Summit as you had hoped. It’s definitely overwhelming in that there are so many different types of people and a wide variety of information. I tend to prefer the ShareASale parties and the smaller happy hours that various businesses put on to the big parties like Affiliate Ball because you actually can network pretty well at the former. I will say that Shawn and Missy take all feedback very seriously. I’ve seen first hand some of the changes that they have made over the years based on feedback from participants. It’s worth speaking up. 🙂

    • It would have been nice to go to some of the smaller parties Tricia. Obviously that is a lot easier when are a big name in the industry, like Tricia Meyer. 🙂

      Glad to hear that Shawn and Missy take Affialite Summit feedback seriously. Thanks for leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts.

      • LOL! I don’t think I have ever seen “big name” and “Tricia Meyer” in the same sentence before. But I appreciate it! If you do decide to attend another Affiliate Summit, please hit me up in advance! I often post on G+, Twitter, etc before the conferences that I am looking for new people to meet up with, have meals with, go to parties with, etc. And I usually get a few takers. I forgot to do it this time. 🙁 It’s a good reminder to some of us who have been going a long time to keep reaching out to the newer people and not just hang out with our same “crowds” all the time. It may be FUN but it won’t be profitable.

        • Jonathan Goodman says:

          Adam did you take advantage of the Newcomer Program?

          • I didn’t do the Affiliate Summit Newcomer Program since it was for VIP and All Access passholders. Apparently a lot of people with Networking Plus Passes did it anyway though.

          • Jonathan Goodman says:

            It’s kind of unfair to judge an entire conference that you had minimal access to. Had you attended the newcomers program you would have been paired with quality attendees who could show you the ins and outs of the conference. In fact I went to dinner with a bunch of newcomers and I know they had a fantastic experience throughout the conference. You’ve already remarked about the cost so let me address that. Internet conferences aren’t cheap but they aren’t astronomically expensive either. In fact the next conference I’ll be attending is in New York and the “discounted” hotel rooms are $369 a night. So immediately this conference is cheaper just based on the hotel cost. A lot of Internet conferences take place in Las Vegas, which is very cheap to fly into and even cheaper to eat and stay. Yes, I realize I was a speaker at Affiliate Summit East and as such my ticket fee is waived but that’s it. My travel, hotel, food, drinks at bars all that comes at a personal cost, which totaled easily topped $1K. But I am there for one specific reason: To Meet People. That includes: reconnecting with old friends as well as new industry contacts. If I learn something new that’s a plus. If I gain a couple more listeners to my podcast that’s a plus. If someone ends up going to Amazon and purchasing my book that’s a plus. If I end up gaining a client or two that’s a big plus. But none of those pluses are expected. I found Affiliate Summit East was so successful for me (personally) that I’ve decided to attend Affiliate Summit West. I hope to see you at next year’s Summit East. Peace.

          • Well first that kinda blows they only cover your pass to Affiliate Summit. Most of the time they at least cover travel costs for speakers.

            No, you are wrong. It is perfectly fair for me to judge Affiliate Summit with the pass I had. My opinion reflects what most people are opting to buy. They even bolded Networking Plus Pass in blue on the website. Simple economics is that you sell more when something is less. Affiliate Summit organizers know that most people are not opting for the higher level passes.

            I have other conferences in mind that I want to attend that I believe will be of more value. I had conversations with media companies and other attendees who said it was “terrible.”

            Before I went I talked with people about what I should expect and what it was like. They all said it was mind-blowing and that I would get A LOT out of it. My expectations were and standards were set quite high. If I maybe came in with lower expectations or didn’t even really know what it was, I might have felt differently. FYI most of these people recommended I stick with the Networking Plus Pass since that is what they get. 🙂

            Las Vegas is a great place to hold conferences since the flights are incredibly cheap no matter where you fly from. Most people don’t know this but the casinos subsidize flights out there so people will go and gamble. I will be attending BlogPaws in Vegas next year if my schedule allows.

            Personally I was happy that it wasn’t in NYC but others there seem disappointed. Even though I am a resident (and don’t like) Baltimore it might be an ok city to use for next time. We are holding the Baltimroe Grand Prix this Labor day weekend actually. Charlotte is another ideal city for conferences from what I hear. My vote would be for Charlotte but it will be intersting to see what they decide. Seems other didn’t like Philadelphia either.

            You have a very expensive method for gaining new podcast listeners Jon! 🙂

        • Since you gave a presentation and obviously have more klout and knowledge than most people. So I would say you are a “name” in the affilaite industry.

          If I decide to go again I will definitely let you know Tricia. I don’t expect all networking to be profitable. It is fun meeeting new people that you would not have otherwise. I recently attended another conference in Atlanta.

  • I’ve never been to ASE, but I have been to many similar things. Even presented at some. For the most part, the larger the event is, the less useful it will likely be to the individual and the more useful it will be to the vendors present. This is simple physics, really. One person can only do so much while a team of people can do a lot. So a vendor with several reps on site can get a lot more done than a single person hoping to find some info can.

    When I attend these sorts of events, most of which nowadays are, of course, automotive related, I usually skip the “parties” or do like you did and carry a drink around for an hour networking instead of guzzling. In my opinion, those who act like you did are far more likely to be helpful and learn something than those who just waste $1,000 a day in tickets and hotel to go to a glorified party.

    • Very true Aaron. The event was so large it does make it difficult for 1 person to get a lot out of it. Unless you already have scheduled meet-ups with people beforehand that you know you want to work with.

      Most people there seemd to just want to show-up and have fun (ie get drunk). If that’s what you want to do that’s cool with me. I came to Philadelphia, a smelly city, to learn and improve my web knowledge. Unfortunately I came up empty.

      Affiliate Summit has a lot of work to do if they want to convince me it would be worthwhile to attend it again.

  • Jonathan Goodman says:

    Adam I’m sorry to hear you didn’t have a good time and didn’t walk away with quality contacts and information. I attend many conventions and conferences every year. Yes, it’s true I speak at most of these events so I have a different perspective but I still go to many of the sessions and network as much as possible. In my experience there are two things that make for a great conference. First, if I can learn one new thing I didn’t know each day I am there. Now you might think one is a tiny number. But what if that one thing completely changes how you do business. Now sometimes that one thing will be in a session but it also might be at lunch or one of the parties. Second, if I can meet really incredible people to network with. Networking is critical!! Again this can happen at a lunch table, standing in a line. But you know where the best networking happens…you guessed it…on the third round of drinks. As humans we all have walls up most of the time. The best thing to lower those walls is a little alcohol. Everyone in this industry works really hard, even the payday loan guy. There is no free money. No one is sitting back taking in the dough. You have to work for every single dollar and that includes affiliate marketers. Parties are the best ways to gain life long friends and those friends in this industry will help promote your skills and wares. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you were expecting from the conference. I personally got so much out of it I’ve decided to attend Affiliate Summit West. Peace.

    • Hi Jon,

      Most conferences I attend even if I don’t learn a lot I usually come away with a full rolodex. Here I didn’t really meet anyone or find any companies. Also I came to the conference looking for specific information in a number of topics and couldn’t find people to help me.

      Like Aaron mentioned because Affiliate Summit is so large naturally it makes it difficult for 1 person to get a lot out of it. If you are a speaker a lot of people come up to you which makes networking more efficient. I wouldn’t have gone up to you unless you were specifically at the conference as the “SEO guru.” Talking and getting your advice was quite useful to me and was one of the highlights of the show.

      Keep in mind a majority of the people there spend their own money to buy a ticket, pay for travel, and put themselves up in a hotel. Considering the amount of money Affialite Summit charges for tickets the show would need to improve a lot for me to ever consider going to Affiliate Summit West or Affiliate Summit East. I’ll never recommend it to anyone.

      Drinking while networking can be a double-edged sword. For some people it will loosen them up, for others they will just get really drunk. 🙂

      I never said the payday loan guy doesn’t work hard. He’s just not someone I want to do business with nor did it seem a lot of peple atttending Affiliate Summit would do business with these types of people. In addition payday loan and browser spyware affiliate programs really do not improve the perception of affiliate marketers.

      I agree there is no free or easy money online. That is a big misconception perpetuated by a lot of people. However, people at Affiliate Summit are perpetuating that myth.


  • Hi Shawn,

    The Affiliate Summit app honestly didn’t work that well, so I didn’t use it. Many people had similar complaints about it as well.

    I did setup a few meetings with people before I attended.

    I am not referring to attendees at Affiliate Summit. People who paid for booths and were exhibiting at the conference are people I am talking about. These people you definitely and should do background checks and verify if they have legitimate businesses. Obviously you do not do that for Affiliate Summit.

    I haven’t submitted to be a speaker as I don’t see value for me attending again, even if I share my knowledge. Also I am not a ‘name’ in the affiliate industry so it’s pretty unlikely I would get a vote.

    The main educational opportunity you get at any conferee is networking.

  • […] well mostly dog person, at BarkWorld.  Additionally everyone is friendly and pretty chill (unlike other conferences I have attended.) Everyone is open to helping each other with different things and trading ideas […]

  • My Affiliate Summit review is the same. Lots of people I would never want to work with and there were NO useful sessions or info.

    Missy Ward looks like a washed up ex-pornstar.