Affiliate Marketing

Jason Calacanis Keynote Recap (Affiliate Summit)

I’m sitting in the Rio Pavilion 9, waiting for Jason Calacanis’ keynote speech to begin. They are fashionably late, as per the usual, but this is my first time to hear Jason speak in person and I’m very excited about it. I’ve got my camera ready with zoom lens attached, and I’m ready to rock and roll.

Stephanie Agresta is standing in front of me talking to two guys. She’s even prettier in real life than she is on her website, Internet Geek Girl.

* The projector is super, super blurry, so much so that it’s a pain on the eyes to even watch. I’ll just focus on taking pictures.

* They’re showing some kind of intro video. It’s blurry as well.

* The intro video was pretty cheesy. The emcee is doing some reminders and notes for the conference. The video talked about Twitter and the Twitter accounts for the conference, which I already knew and have been using.

* He’s introducing Jason Calacanis now. Jason is sitting a few rows in front of me. Long spiel intro going over Jason’s history from Silicon Alley Reporter to Mahalo. Oops: he says Jason started both Gizmodo and Engadget, which is not true. He stole Peter Rojas from Gizmodo to start Engadget, but he most certainly didn’t start Gizmodo (and is probably glad he didn’t).

* Jason has his own intro music. It’s Bad To The Bone. Fitting.

* Jason starts off talking about Usenet. About 80% of the audience was on Usenet before 1995, and Jason calls everyone a “very seasoned” audience. Talks about Usenet being useless today. Says 1.3% of links in Google are malware links. This is all setting up Mahalo talk, which is totally fine with me because I love Mahalo.

* Talking about Squidoo spam. Pretty much every link on Squidoo is affiliate spam. Jason says people are cringing because of “affiliate spam”, but it’s true. Why would a smart person like Seth Godin pollute the internet with Squidoo?

* Now he’s talking about Dave Sifry and Technorati and Ev Williams of Blogger/Twitter. Talking about ego feeds/searches. Now he’s talking about Ted Murphy from Pay Per Post. Tells people from Pay Per Post that they should kill themselves. Ha. Awesome. Says bloggers who use Pay Per Post are pissing in the well.

* Says affiliate companies have culpability for enabling people to piss in the well. Asks people who work for affiliate companies to raise their hands, and NOBODY does so. Hilarious.

* Curation is coming, because it’s good business. People are starting to police business, bad people are being punished, anonymity is being reduced. Brings up Citysearch, Yelp, Angie’s List (never heard of this one). People are using Facebook because it’s less polluted than MySpace. LinkedIn is even more curated than Facebook. Hulu is more curated than YouTube.

* Says Bloglines Blog Search is the best blog search out there. I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Says that it won’t be the best blog search anymore because affiliate marketers will start gaming it now that he’s said it’s good. This is probably true.

* Does an effort vs. monetary reward graph that is genius. I’ll have to draw this out later or find out wherever Jason found it on the web.

* Makes an Austin Powers reference.

* Jason is talking about Shoemoney and Zac Johnson, making fun of them for their check pictures. Awesome.

* Says that it takes 2-3 years for blogs to reach their natural traffic levels. That’s heartening.

* Talks about his SEO Is Bullshit comment. Talks about the history behind it and what made him say it. Anyone can rank well by PRODUCING GOOD CONTENT.

Arguments against gaming:

– Human powered search can’t be gamed
– The semantic web is impossible to game (theoretically)
– Increasing number of niche high-quality sites will make it impossible to compete with a TAS/low-quality site

FOR GAMING

– Any system can be gamed
– Gamers are getting smarter and smarter
– Social networks, social news, and search are the ultimate covert marketing system

THE BRUTAL TRUTH

* We think small. Holding up a six figure check is just pathetic. That’s the biggest success you have? Really?

* SEO’s and affiliate gamers are some of the smartest, most resourceful people in the world.

* He’d love to hire the top 10 SEO’s/affiliates to work for him because they’re so smart.

WHAT SHOULD WE DO (selfish version)

* someone makes a comment about Dave Winer not being here, telling Jason he doesn’t have to hold back

* Stay the course
* Keep polluting the web with terrible sites
* Increase the amount and complexity of the gaming
* Find new ways to covertly advertise unsuspecting users
* be more creative in the use of malware, adware and click fraud.

UNSELFISH VERSION

* realize you’re the bottom of the food chain and fight up
* create long-term relationships with users based on high-quality content and services
* give up life of crime and stop holding up checks with $100,000. instead hold up checks with two more zeros.
* we are smarter than half of the folks working at large internet companies
* we don’t think big enough

BOTTOM LINE

* someone can create the next digg, stumbleupon, flickr instead of bullshit affiliate sites. He’s really starting to quiet the room down at this point.

* we’re wired for making the quick buck. TRY TO DO GREAT THINGS. failure is part of it.

Q&A

Q: How does Mahalo scale?

A: Point them back to Weblogs Inc and the scaling they did there. Talks about the Mahalo Greenhouse for a bit.

Q: What kind of affiliate links does Jason think aren’t spam?

A: He likes ads to be labeled as ads. Hates deceptive marketing.

* I told Jason I was the guy who wrote the story about my grandmother using Mahalo, and he thanked me for it, saying it was his favorite Mahalo story to date. I asked him if his target market would continue to be non-web users, and he said that eventually they would have stuff for the “top 5%” of users, guys like me who spend a lot of time on the internet. They are eventually going to have to do a lot for that top 5%, because those are the people who will really make the site sticky and get great word of mouth going.

* Sam Harrelson writes in his live blogging that he thinks I’m a plant because I gave Jason a “softball”. The problem is that the question I asked was the one question I wanted an answer to: what the target audience for Mahalo would be going into the future. To me, that didn’t seem like a softball at all — it’s a very viable question, because no one seems to understand what the target for Mahalo is, and now they know. Sam says he’s never seen me before, so I must be a plant. I leave a comment on Sam’s blog explaining who I am and the reasoning behind my comment.

And that’s the end.

After it’s over, Sam approaches me and we talk for a bit. He asks me if I have a blogger pass, and I tell him that I don’t. I applied three times for one, and was denied every single time. The truth is that I don’t think they even checked out my blog, because if they did, they would have seen my Ad:Tech NYC coverage and known that I do pretty in-depth blogging. Regardless, Sam gets me a blogger pass, so I’ll be spending some of the afternoon in the BlogHaus doing some coverage.

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9 thoughts on “Jason Calacanis Keynote Recap (Affiliate Summit)

  1. GREAT coverage – the kind of coverage I wish I’d been well enough to do today!

    Hope you don’t mind, I linked to your coverage in explaining my lack thereof in today’s recap blogpost… still writing it but I’ll be tweeted later.

  2. Trisha — you can link to any of my stuff any time you’d like. 🙂 Thanks for the compliment. I’d hoped to edit and rewrite the post better than I did, but I wanted to get it out there fast enough for people to check it out if they wanted to.

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  7. This guy is an idiot. Yes there is a lot of seo spam out there and its up to Google, yahoo and msn to weed it out…

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