Trade Event Report
Affiliate Marketing and the Online Media Vendor Event, + +
By Al Berrios (contact Al Berrios)

I had the good sense (or poor judgment) of missing two prior internet focused events so far this year - the Jupiter Search Engine Marketing Conference and one other which was important, but then again, I don't remember it, so it probably wasn't. By invitation, I joined my good buddy on Thursday, March 11 at a company sponsored dinner which turned out to be a thank you dinner for sitting through an hour and a half live commercial by online advertising companies LinkShare, Avenue A, and Bigfoot Interactive.

First off, who organizes serious events under the title "conference" in a nightclub? This put me off immediately. The seating was uncomfortable club seating, the lighting was poor club lighting and the club appeared as though it was even under construction.

The projector was literally in the face of the speakers and anyone else who walked in front of it. And as the speakers rattled off their pitches to this group of hostage interactive marketers, I believe 50% actually paid attention as food servers were running back and forth in front of hungry on-lookers.

It was definitely reminiscent of how it used to be during the boom years. The idea was pretty good though - organize regular events like this in the hopes of cultivating new relationships with executives who leave, transfer positions, or get fired.

Anyway, since I was trapped, I figured, what the hell, might as well listen to what these guys had to sell. Linkshare is an affiliate marketing platform. Affiliate marketing is as old as the web and is best known to have grown from this approach. Basically, you get another site (let's call it to link to your site (let's call it and whenever a visitor from clicks on to from a link on and actually buys something on, gives a cut of the transaction (usually between 0.01% to 10%). Makes sense?

Avenue A presented search engine marketing (as opposed to search engine optimizing, which they define as simply prepping your site for search engines.) As you know, the search industry has consolidated and marketing strategies are basically 1) buying the best keywords for your site from the search engine or 2) paying a search directory (or engine) to increase your rank on their listings (a.k.a. paid inclusion). Why would you want to pay to have your site included and ranked in a search engine when search engines do that automatically? Turns out that your cost of acquiring a new customer is about 23% lower when you use "branded" keywords relevant to your business, but better still, buying those words on search engines increases your clickthrough (the number of visitors receives from other sites) by 52% (according to Overture). Keep in mind though, that there is some overlap of visitors who click on your site whether or not you've bought your words.

Bigfoot presented email marketing. Bigfoot sends millions of emails daily, and they've been doing it for over 7 years. So you can be sure that they adhere to just about every rule and regulation out there. Unfortunately, their business seems very disorganized with poor targeting and deliverables. With the horror stories I've heard, it's pretty easy to blame them for the whole spam problem.

Here was my issue: since it's all about relevant targeting, and you're only sending emails that people will actually read because what's in the emails matters to them, how on Earth do you expect to introduce new products and services without looking like spam? How do you maintain your relevance and optimize the cost of your email campaign? According to these professionals it's all about testing, testing, testing using web media and search. That, with some good old fashion analysis and guesstimation should ensure that you're sending the best offer possible.

Then we ate and we were free. Overall, this event deserves just 2 pluses (+ +).


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