Why I Hate Corporate Affiliate Marketing Events

Last year, I attended London Adtech and was blown away by the number of suits in attendance. I guess it was only a matter of time before our industry became profitable enough that the yuppies and base touching urchins of the Square Mile stuck their dicks in it.

One of the things I remember distinctly was catching Jason from Ads4Dough at an extremely bare basics table, decorated with a bottle of water and surrounded by a hundred companies that had gone all-out to ‘dress for the occasion’.

It really emphasized in my mind how vast the gulf is between affiliate marketers who ‘get it’, and those who think they ‘get it’ by gelling the hair back and dousing their booths with:

1. At least four scantily clad female affiliate managers.
2. Enough jargon speak to give me a fucking headache
3. All style and zero substance.

As most conference junkies have probably worked out by now, I’m not one to travel halfway across the world to trade business cards with slick sales reps that I’ll probably never speak to again in my life. That’s not to say I don’t value the power of networking, I just prefer to stick to my small circle of confidants who generally keep me up to speed if there’s anything big I need to hear about.

I found London Adtech frustrating and confusing in equal measures. Not only did the companies seem to be wrestling for the title of best corporate Zoolander face, but they were also hugely out of touch with the solo working class affiliates like myself. I may not look like a Wall Street banker, but I’m actually a better representation of a real life affiliate marketer than some tosser with his glass of Champagne and never-ending presentation of “digital e-projects”.

Seriously, if you’re still prefixing business terms with “e” to show that you get the digital age, slap yourself in the ganglies and go back to the starting line. You suck.

I think most companies who attend these corporate events are under the illusion that affiliates are dumb, blind and blissfully unaware that suits and jargon speak actually add up to… not much.

Christ, the second you mention that you’re a CPA marketer who works from home, be prepared for that head to toe glance, the tutting of dismay and a polite ending of the conversation while the poorly educated twat turns his back on you to deal with other more respectable attendees.

The latest event on the horizon here in London is the A4U Expo. I don’t know about you, but I stopped taking this event seriously when I saw that it was sponsored by Argos.

What’s that all about?

Am I supposed to be seduced in to promoting Argos? With an entry pass starting at £395, I’d have to spend the rest of my life shelling Argos links to come anywhere close to making a return on that investment.

The only affiliate who will pay £395 for access to this kind of corporate circle jerk is the affiliate who is being sponsored by his company.

Now, I realise there may be corporate suits reading this now who gasp at the idea of their favourite event being compared to a Yuppie’s Day Out. But really, that’s all this shit is. Every single keynote spirals in to a final self-adoring sales pitch. You would be better placed collecting a list of the speakers, Googling their blogs, and reading up on the tips that everybody else will be paying £395 to hear a speech about.

The corporate affiliate marketing landscape couldn’t be further detached from the hard working affiliates who drive the industry’s popularity forward. Some of us are educating ourselves to build sustainable businesses, others are spending lavish amounts to dress with sophistication and learn how to make 4% on a fucking book sale with Amazon.

Good luck with that.

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About the author

Finch
Finch

A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.

11 Comments

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  • Amen. I went to ASW last year, and was shocked that most of the people seemed to not understand the “real” affiliate. Either that or I am mistaken on what this is all about. I talked to many people who didn’t know that PPC-to-affiliate-offer existed. I met tons of SEOs who seemed clueless. Most of the booths I spoke too seemed to have little knowledge in what affiliates want, and instead tried shoving their business card on you so you would try their content locking system. Maybe I missed the point, but to be honest, the conference wasn’t nearly as great as I thought it would be. A lot of people are just full of shit. It is a good occasion if you know people already and just want to meetup, but it isn’t worth it if you’re going there to learn.

    My writeup is the second part of this post:
    http://www.pjkdirect.com/2011/01/affiliate-summit-west-las-vegas-trip-report

  • Nice one, totally agree with you. Problem is: Best customers for overpriced shit (40 Euros shit breakfast in some lousy business hotel, 10000 Euros for a first class flight to Asia or 15 Euros for 3 hours of shitty hotel WIFI or about 400 Euros for a conference pass) are people who spend OTHER PEOPLES MONEY (aka coporate people). Real affiliates spend their own money and will think before they drop that kind of sum for some useless suit event. Anyway, the corporate guy walks home with his couple of thousand each month for slaving away in some suicide-provoking cubicle, so in the end the joke is on him…

  • I’m a regular reader at A4U but I’ve never quite ‘got’ their Expo. I certainly can’t justify spending the best part of £700 on an event that’s going to teach me about the same thing as some decent blogs.

    If you’re a super affiliate who can afford to go, and want to network and meet some other affiliates for the craic, then fine. But £700 is a lot of dough and it’s doesn’t seem like it will offer a good ROI for me.

  • “I guess it was only a matter of time before our industry became profitable enough that the yuppies and base touching urchins of the Square Mile stuck their dick in it.”

    Grammar error be damned; this is the most epic commentary ever made on the state of the affiliate space.

    Frank

  • I guess it depends what you’re looking for from an event though doesn’t it? AdTech isn’t just about affiliate marketing – I use it more for the seminars than to get accosted by salesmen.

  • You put it better than I ever could.

    It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid all “suit and tie” big corporate “events” (organized by Asda for gods sake!) because pretty well without exception they all turn out to be full of idiots and a complete waste of time and money.

    The employees who attend these occasions are mostly clueless about online marketing. They have very little freedom to do anything innovative.

    All they can do – and all they want to do – is quack the standard bla bla they have been told to quack. The last thing they want to do is appear to be stepping out of the corporate line of their organization and antagonizing their “line managers” next up in the hierarchy.

    One positive thing you take away from these crap corporate events is how, unlike them we small guys have the edge. We can move quickly, we can act on trends, we can innovate and we can take risks. And we dont have to answer to anyone else to do so. That’s a BIG business advantage at practically nil cost.

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