I’ve finally finished visiting the well known affiliate conference, Affiliate Summit West for the last few days. My initial impression of the event (as this was my first time watching) is that it is a curious adventure accompanied by some advantages and a lot of disadvantages. My reckoning is that a review of this experience would greatly benefit others that are considering attending.
Affiliate Summit – my honest thoughts
There was a lot for me to take in over the duration and my knowledge did increase as a result of visiting. Mostly the attendees for these events are marketers of affiliates that visit conferences of the same subject – we all are aware that these kinds of people are typically disagreeable, greedy, and unpleasant to be in the presence of.
In order to better comprehend the reason for Affiliate Summit, what it focuses on and the benefits that attending will garner you, my decision was to create an casual-to-read review split up into digestible chunks. Hopefully, my recapitulation of this experience will bring light what others are likely to get from attending – the short answer being not much.
For those that haven’t already figured out, I am not writing favourable accounting.
What can be gained from visiting?
Similarly to most other events like these in the industry, your best opportunities lie in networking with others to build connections and gain contacts. We all want to meet businesses and individuals with the potential to expand my horizons.
My expectation for this event was to get exactly this. I had hoped to meet others that could teach me new sources of income and learn new techniques that I was previously unaware of. One good thing about the event was that most of the other attendees were going to Affiliate Summit for this same purpose.
Within the conference, there is something called a Meet Market which is supposed to aid this endeavour. Businesses will create stalls for them to promote their own services or products to any possible customers or partners. It struck me as somewhat of a cross between a marketplace and speed dating, where the goal was for others to create valuable connections. Despite it being a bit messy, I was drawn to this activity and put a lot of my time into chatting with interesting individuals.
Unfortunately, the businesses listed as attending the Meet Market weren’t organised into an clear index – some companies would be available at some dates, but not others, whilst a few didn’t even show up at all. I found this rather baffling as I had planned to meet with a number of participants, but they were not present on when I was available. I would constantly have to check back to see if they had shown, which was extremely irritating at points.
In addition to this, there were sessions available that were only accessible to attendees with special access passes. I found that the number of talks I was actually allowed to sit in were terribly limited, which I would have appreciated knowing beforehand so I could buy the VIP level. I was able to join in on their session for new visitors to the event, but this was just useless to me. I’d say the most interesting talk I actually watched in the end would have been the one that gave you the opportunity to ask experienced professionals questions.
Who attended this event?
- While I was there, I saw a large variety of different kinds of individuals visiting. There were:
- Managers for affiliates wanting to procure more marketers
- Internet marketing professionals
- Individuals trying to purchase site activity
- Individuals trying to sell site activity
- Organisations that specialise in social media
- Businesses hoping to find out more about marketing and affiliates
- Writers and guest posters looking for collaborators
Affiliate Summit West 2017 had just over 6000 attendees this at this event – this obviously indicates a huge variety of visitors. This conference’s reach stretches to people in so many different countries, including India, Thailand, France, Germany, South Africa, you name it.
From what I saw, it seemed to have attracted audiences of a younger crowd (usually they were in their early twenties) and the only senior attendees I noticed in particular were relatively well-established businessman. It was obvious that it was the intention of the event managers to pander to a younger target audience, which is fair enough as it seems that SEO is becoming more popular to that age group.
There were a couple of engaging and supportive conversations I had, but I couldn’t use any of them to justify the cost of attending tbh. Frankly, I don’t recommend going if you have a distinct lack of approval for the SEO crowd, as Affiliate Summit is probably only going to make that worse. Don’t expect to improve your opinion of them, is what I’m saying.
At one point, I actually had some dude aggressively attempt to hawk me his My Little Pony niche PBN network! You need to ask yourself what kind of weirdos this event is bringing in when people like that show up. There’s only so many times you can tell someone “I don’t care how authenic it is! Please leave me alone! I don’t like childrens TV shows you freak!” I really hope some other poor sucker didn’t get shamed into that.
Lots of companies working in affiliates kept going on about their amazing offers. Only, these were for really sketchy-looking stuff, like malware distribution. But who cares? They say they have great conversion rates!
There weren’t really any organisations there that you’d like to be associated with. It says a lot about Affiliate Summit when it’s full of the kind of stuff that makes people really uncomfortable. I get the distinct impression that they don’t really care as long as they are selling booths to sponsors.
It’s worth mentioning that I met with plenty of others that agreed with me on a lot of these points. Anyone that wanted a chance at looking ethical at Affiliate Summit had to very adamant that they weren’t selling anything suspicious. I get the impression a lot of potential companies with wholesome motives were driven away because of the overwhelming presence of slimy internet trolls that crawled their way out of the underbelly of black hat SEO.
I’ve always been told that first impressions can make or break a possible partnership. The fact that I made so little connections during the event indicates how badly some people came across within the first minute of meeting them.
Will I pick up anything new?
Honestly, it’s all up to you as an individual as well as your purpose for attending. I had intended to gain more knowledge in affiliate marketing companies and find out what to do when I wanted to approach one. I had also hoped for guidance in optimising my websites and generating more traffic.
You’ll probably pick up a couple of new things whilst attending, but I really expected more considering what I spent just to be there. I’d say I’m skilled in deducing effective sessions worth sitting in, and I was generally accurate in my assumptions. A few other people I spoke to clearly weren’t as adept in this as me, however, and did not get what they paid for.
I got much more information from informal chats with others than I did from the talks. There was a particularly interesting man from France called Gaston who was very successful at guestposting. He linked all of his content back to his blog about his moustache, which got him very good traffic. I actually subscribed to him when I left, as the blog is a very good read.
I found a native from the that taught me a lot of tips he had learned from trying to optimise his breast-milk ice cream site. The conversation I had with him taught me so much about effective keyword stuffing and other topics (as well as a few pointers to reduce nipple chafing).
The thing is, I learned all of this from just random people. The event itself was ultimately disappointing in what I learned from the sessions. I am expecting them to build on that area.
Is the place nice?
One big problem for me is that I hate absolutely hate Las Vegas. The whole area is very tacky, and one time when I visited before a man bumped into me in the street, and for some reason I got fined just for punching him in the dick?? WTF???
Vegas is an extremely messy place, especially the main strip, and the traffic is just horrible. In addition to this, most of the people who lived there were pretty annoying – this one man in particular kept just lying down on the floor and eating grapes. It was really hard to not trip on him.
I wouldn’t be so bothered if this weren’t such an expensive conference. Affiliate Summit has been going on for quite a long time now, so they should have really worked out more of the kinks. At least they moved the venue from the previous locations they went to – imagine visiting this event in Philadelphia? Ugh.
But what about the conference’s after-parties?
One good thing I could say is that these after-parties were very well put together. There were a lot of people going to these, presumably because of how rowdy they can get. There was a good open bar service, and the waiters kept handing out these really tasty mozzarella sticks. They had good live music too.
My good friend Gaston sat down with me for a bit and said, in a heavy French accent, “I’ve not experienced such drunken festivities since they spiked the punch bowl at my friends’ vegan sausage fest party.” He also added that he’d never been to one of the parties before, but he’d always seen the aftermath where most of the attendees were too hungover to see the rest of the conference.
This would have all been great, had I actually been attending Affiliate Summit for the parties. Admittedly, it was enjoyable, but I had been planning to actually learn something valuable and make connections, not watch some wasted guy in a sailor costume spray paint his youtube channel URL in a public bathroom.
Is it worth going back?
I am going to be forthright and say that I was not happy with my decision to attend. I didn’t really achieve anything that I had originally set out to do, and I doubt I’ll return (unless Gaston goes back, he was nice). Although, after this review, it’s unlikely I’ll be wanted there anymore. But I had to speak my mind.
I did hear that the people who had purchased the special access passes did think it was worth it, so it might be a good idea if you are willing to spend a little more.
To conclude, Affiliate Summit was not worth the cash and effort I put into it. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews on the event, but I’d bet a lot of money that those people were the guys who went nuts at the parties – so they probably don’t remember a large chunk of the even anyway. Oh sure, Mr Youtuber-Spraypainting-Sailor-man had fun, but did he actually learn anything useful? I doubt it.
Expensive conferences are supposed to teach me new ideas I haven’t heard of before, not just rehash the same overrated gimmicks I can read about in second-rate SEO blogs. If these speakers really do know anything actually useful, they’re just keeping it to themselves because they don’t want other people to know their methods.