Affiliate Summit West 2009
Better late than never… I’ve been real busy since Affiliate Summit West 2009 in Vegas, which is why I’m so late in posting my summary. Well, it’s finally here!
On Saturday I flew out of Buffalo direct to Las Vegas via Southwest. While at the airport, I caught up on numb3rs from the previous night. Gotta love that Sprint broadband! The flight was long, so I listened to Dan Brown’s Angels & Deamons on the way there. I’ve read it years before, and with the movie coming up, I figured I’d listen to it this time around. While on the plane, I also pulled out my Garmin GPS and got a signal, so I was able to see where we were, and how fast we were going (450 – 515 mph).
After landing, I got my rental car, drove to the Wyndham Grand Desert and checked in very quickly. The room was nice & big, which made me homesick right away. I unpacked then called the AsSeenOnTVNetwork.com to see what we were doing for dinner. I had a quick rest, changed, then headed off to dinner.
Dinner at Simon in the Palms with Todd Farmer, Lisa Picarille, Jim Kukral, and Johnny Mathis, Adam Riemer & Pete Altieri from Livemercial. This dinner, “just thrown together” (quote by Adam) spoiled me as I don’t think it gets any better than this. The appetizers were all amazing: Salt & Pepper Calamari, “Tator-tot” sushi, some sort of soy bean (I’m sure I’m missing something). I ordered the Tandoori Arctic Char which was incredible and the table shared sides of mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, creamed spinich, and macaroni & cheese. As I sat back enjoying this meal (which I’d rate in the top 5 of my life… maybe #2, behind brunch at Brennon’s in New Orleans), I thought it couldn’t get any better, but then the desert came out.
While the cotton candy was a nice touch, the comfort foods such as homemade snowballs, “Hostess” cupcakes, and Rice Krispie & Fruit Loop treats really topped the evening. Unfortunately I did drive there, so I didn’t join in on the wine sampling, but believe me, it was tempting. We had some great conversations, already making deals, and even tried to get Billy Mays on the phone, but he wasn’t home. Ah, too bad… Billy is the man! Thanks, Livemercial, for a GREAT dinner and I look forward to working together this year.
We left dinner at 10:30 PM, which, to me, was 1:30 AM, so I skipped the Buy.at party. I had to get some sleep, which didn’t work too well, as I woke Sunday at 4 AM (my body thinking it’s 7 AM). Luckily, I was able to get back to sleep before waking again at 6:30, brewing some Tim Horton’s, and getting ready for a long Sunday.
Sunday morning I caught to bus (yes, John, the public-transportation-bus!) to Mandalay Bay and the CAMA Brunch at the House of Blues. The CAMA picked a great venue, and we had some excellent networking, great food, followed by some amazing gospel music. I met up with Mike Buechele, Tyler & Chantal Patton (TCP Global Solutions) and Ron Bechdolt, my mentor from ASE in Boston. It’s great talking with these guys online for 6 months, then finally meeting in person for a few days before going to our own corner of the States and chatting online again for another 6 months. Well, that’s how it typically happens, but it turns out that Tyler & Chantal are pretty close to where I’ll be in February, so I’m looking forward to seeing them & their family in a few short weeks.
I checked in to #ASW09 and hit the meet market right off the bat. I couldn’t stand the meet market in Boston, as it was EXTREMELY crowded and loud. However, the room this time around was MUCH larger and, since I went early while there was a session going on, I was able to run through it pretty quickly. I then went to Jeremy Palmer’s Black Ink session, which was a great recap of the Black Ink Project. Jeremy ran a bit over, so he didn’t get to talk too much about Black Ink 3, but he generously gave all participants a free membership to the new session. I’m looking forward to working with Jeremy once again. There was a long line after his session, and I had to get to the next one, so I didn’t stick around.
The next session was John Hasson‘s about automating websites & PPC management. John’s a pretty geeky guy, so I’m sure some of what he was talking about was WAY over the heads of the participants, but after about 10 minutes, I knew what I needed. Once the Q&A started, I took off. Sorry I didn’t stick around, John, but you taught me enough to get started now – thanks!
I killed some time before meeting up with Jess Luthi, Matthew Wood and some other UK chaps at the Irish pub in the Rio for a round of drinks. Since I first went to Affiliate Summit in Miami with Paul, I’ve been seeing these guys at other Summits & keeping in touch online. They’re a great bunch and I’m glad to see them regularly.
Whew… I then ran across the casino to Lucky Strikes Lanes for a quick appearance at the oneNetwork Direct cocktail party. This may be my favorite network-sponsoed party I’ve been to so far, and I’m truly sorry I had to leave early. The oneNetwork Direct staff had these fancy bowling shirts made up, and the lanes were all reserved for this party. The nice thing about this was that everyone there had some relationship to oneNetwork Direct, which means we were all involved in software. It made networking very easy, as we now had 2 things in common (the one thing we all have in common is the weather, which is why so many people like talking about it). While I was bummed I had to leave early, I was excited to be heading back to Mandalay Bay & the IANteract Dinner.
The IANteract Dinner is put on by Ian Fernando. I started stalking (following) Ian before Boston, and we met up in Boston and have kept in touch ever since. There were people at the dinner that I’ve never even seen before, but once I learned who they were, I recognized either the blog name, or Twitter username, etc. I ended up sitting next to a Forex trader and PPC affiliate and had some great conversation (well, he couldn’t talk much as he may have partied a bit too much the night before – most of these guys party MUCH more than I do). It turns out we were staying in the same resort, so we shared a cab back and I crashed pretty early Sunday night.
Monday morning I woke up, showered, looked out my window & saw security had my rental car open. That can’t be good… turns out someone decided to smash the passenger window open, grab the GPS charger / mount, and take off. The glove box was open, too, so I’m guessing they thought the GPS was in there. So that slowed me down a bit, having to go see Gill Grissom, file a report, go back to Avis and exchange the car. No, I didn’t get the additional insurance, but between my own insurance and coverage by American Express, I should be fine.
I arrived at the Rio & made it to most of Gary Vaynerchuk‘s keynote. Too bad I missed breakfast 🙁 I then hit the Exhibit Hall for a bit, met with a program manager from oneNetwork Direct to talk about a product of theirs that I’m starting to promote, then went to Wil Reynolds session on Whitehat Linkbuilding Strategies. Wil had some great ideas, and I’ll be sure to go back to this presentation whenever I do a day of linkbuilding.
After that session, I had lunch with John Hasson, who happened to win one of my iTunes gift cards, and then met up with the guys from Football Fanatics. Now I don’t do much with them (they’re the main source of content on CollegeGolfBalls.com) but Jason’s always been helpful, giving tips on how to improve the site and regularly checking in. They’ve got this amazing data-feed, which makes building sites a breeze.
I walked the Exhibit Hall a bit more, met with a couple program managers, then went to the first half of the session on Landing Page Testing. I caught the 2nd half of this session in Boston, so I figured I’d put it together on this trip. I left a bit early, though, to go to the Meetup202. The 202 Group put together this imprompto meeting for 202 users, where I got to talk to many of the people that I only saw across the table at the IANteract Dinner the night before. I was looking for Bryn, but didn’t see him… Bryn is organizing the 202 Meetup in Toronto, which I hope to join as soon as my travels slow down.
After the meetup, I dropped in to the Pinacle Awards then drove over to the Palms with Jim Krugal & Lisa Picarille to make a quick appearance at the AsSeenOnTV / Livemercial cocktail hour. Adam Riemer hooked me up again, and even made sure I won a Buxton Bag! After a quick drink & some great networking (Looking forward to further chatting with @MatthewBredel), I registered for the Football Fanatics poker tournement and sat at the table. I was doing fairly well, playing a bit conservative but taking some big pots. Scott Jangro was at my first table, and I was very close to putting a bounty on him, but then he lost a couple of pots. Our table was broken up, and the new table I was at had Angel Djambazov playing at it, and he was dominating the table. A few others dropped out, and I finally had to make my move when I had Jack-Ace suited clubs. The flop drew 2 more clubs (one a Queen) and I went all-in. Unfortunately, 4 to a flush is basically nothing, and Angel’s pair of Queens knocked me out. Angel went on to winning the entire tournament, so if I’m going to be knocked out by someone, I’m glad it was him.
I stuck around for a bit after being knocked out, then went in search of some food. A group of players also knocked out were heading to N9ne Steakhouse, so I joined Brian Littleton, Scott Jangro, Todd Crawford, and Stephanie Lichtenstein for a bite to eat. It was a bit more than a bite to eat, honestly. Thanks for the meal, Brian! After dinner I walked past the poker room, but by that time, the affiliate crowd had all left. That’s ok… it was after midnight & I need to get some sleep.
I made it to breakfast on Tuesday, but then skipped the “Ask the Experts” session to spend some time speaking with Emilio with Andy Rodriguez Consulting and the nice people over at ShareASale. While there, I tried my chance at SkiBall and scored a whopping 140 points (in 5 balls). That was good enough for a stuffed panda bear on the spot, and turned out to be a high score for the day, and I won a really nice cork dart board.
I attended the session, “Super Affiliate PPC Marketing Strategies” before lunch, but sat in the back as I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay. After the three panelists and moderator introduced themselves and answered 1 planned question (which took 1/2 hour), I left. I’m getting annoyed at sessions where the speaker / panel have nothing planned, so they just take questions from the crowd.
Lunch was very light on this day, and I have to say I was disappointed. Meals at Affiliate Summit are always good, and this one was too, but it was a bit simple compared to what I remember from past Summits. Mike and I ate together, and I got to say goodbye to Tyler & Chantal before they headed home.
I went back to Classroom C for “Advanced Optimization for Landing Pages” after lunch, which was a good session. I wish the Google Rep (Trevor Claiborne) showed how to set up their optimizer, but I’ll have to figure that out for myself. By this time my crappy Q battery was dead, so I took the phone & charger to the charging station and dropped it off to be plugged in for 45 minutes. This is a nice feature at Affiliate Summit and I hope it sticks around.
Finally, Ian Fernando’s “The Art of Keyword Blasting” finished up the day. I don’t think some of the attendees knew what they were getting into, but it was a good overview. Again perhaps a working example would’ve been nice, but I’ll take what I learned & put it into practice. When the questions started, I took off to get my phone and found I had a message from Share A Sale about the dart board! I picked that up, did a quick interview with Jason Rubacky at Football Fanatics then met Josh at the Rio’s lobby bar.
That sums up Affiliate Summit… although my Vegas vacation continued. This post is long enough, so I’ll post the rest later. Photos will be posted, someday (once I add commented & geotag them).