I’m proud to be the emcee of the Affiliate Summit West event at the Rio in Las Vegas in Feb, 2008. It’s my first time in this role and I’m really looking forward to it. Perhaps though, I’m even more excited to be able to introduce the keynote speaker for the event, none other than Mr. Internet Geek controversy himself… Jason Calacanis.
I know the event is months away, but when Shawn told me he booked Jason, I thought to myself, “what are we going to expect from Jason, and what does he know about affiliate marketing?” Jason is a lightning rod in the online community who has had a storied career of business successes and a knack for stirring the proverbial online pot. I mean, if he cause such an uproar by saying “seo is b.s.“, what does he have in store for us in the affiliate business, right?
I wanted to know, so I dropped a few questions his way via email the other day and here are his responses, unedited. He didn’t give up a lot, but I’m hoping to pull more out of him down the road leading up to the event. You will be there, right?
JK: I say the words “affiliate marketing”; what is your first immediate thought?
JK: Have you ever done affiliate marketing? If yes, what have you done? If no, why?
JC: We never did it at Weblogs, Inc. on blogs like Engadget, Autoblog, and Joystiq because we had premium advertisers and high-performing Google AdSense available to us. I think we experimented a little with Amazon but the performance wasn’t so great that we would shift from display ads to pay per transaction.
Also, I’m a little uneasy about the idea of inserting affiliate links into editorial, and from what I understand you really have to do that to make any money. If a blog like Boingboing links to their Amazon affiliate for book sales I’m not so troubled, but if a blog like Engadget started linking to HD TV’s via their affiliate link I’d start to think “hmmm… are they writing about this TV because they make $100 bucks if they sell one?”
JK: What can the summit crowd expect you to talk about?
JC: I’m not going to tip my cards right now, but I think I’m on the trail of some interesting theories and observations on the dynamics of affiliate marketing.
JK: What kind of crowd are you expecting? Do you know many affiliate marketing people?
JC: I know a couple, but not too many. I really don’t know know what to expect!
JK: If “seo is b.s.”, affiliate marketing isâ€¦???
JC: … you’ll have to wait for the keynote. ;-)
What a tease. This should be good. What Jason will find out is that affiliate marketers are really the best overall online marketers in existence. They can do it all, not just search, and they know it all, well.
But perhaps what is the most interesting and revealing to me from Jason’s answers above is his first answer “Amazon”. Jason isn’t in our little industry bubble, not many are. So it’s VERY interesting to see how a person like Jason views us from the outside. Not only interesting; but I think important. Sometimes a little outside perspective can really help.
I fully expect, and hope, that both Jason and the show attendees challenge each other and start some good discussion about the industry, because the affiliate industry sorely needs some new voices and faces.