Affiliate Marketing Conferences That Deliver Value

CJU 2016

Attending conferences about online marketing is a good way to stay current on the latest and greatest in the industry. It’s also an unmatched opportunity for face-to-face networking with peers and potential business partners.  And there are often valuable educational sessions and panel discussions.

If all goes well, you’ll leave with new business and actionable items to make your business more successful.

However, there are a lot of networking events, conferences and meetups for online marketers. If you attended them all, you’d never have time to get real work done. It would also be pretty costly.

If you’re focused on affiliate marketing, here are 5 conferences to get the most bang for your buck:

Affiliate Summit

With more than 5,000 attendees, this conference is the largest of all affiliate events. Affiliate Summit brings together advertisers, networks, affiliates and agencies from more than 70 countries. It’s held twice year (January in Las Vegas and August in New York City).

The conference started in 2003 and continues to grow. In addition to hundreds of educational sessions, the 3-day conference also has a trade show component. This gives attendees the chance to walk through a large exhibit hall and talk with vendors, brands, networks, and service providers. Each year the conference also introduces several innovative networking events.

Takeaway: This conference is a must-attend for most in the affiliate space. Be sure to use the social tools Affiliate Summit provides  to connect attendees before the event. This enables you to set up meetings beforehand. Have a plan before going to the show. It’s easy to get overwhelmed without specific objectives, preset meetings, or a list of sessions to attend.

Tip: Get there a day early. Be sure to head over to the main bar of  the conference hotel.  Some of the best networking and many deals are done over drinks during down time.

Connect with Rick Gardiner from at ASE17

Connect with Adam Dahlen from at ASE17

Affiliate Management (AM)  Days

Affiliate Management Days is held annually in the US (typically in the spring in San Francisco). The conference is for affiliate managers responsible for their company’s affiliate strategy, management and operations.  The focus of the 2-day event is primarily educational sessions. This is valuable event whether you have an existing affiliate program or you are creating a new initiative. AM Days offers insight into how other online retailers are successfully implementing and managing their affiliate programs.

Takeaway: You’ll likely learn a lot and leave with actionable items. Also, this conference is more intimate (a few hundred attendees). That gives you the chance to talk to the same people multiple times. It’s a great opportunity to have conversations that dig a little deeper.

Tip: Keep eye on attendee’s badges. This show is often occurring simultaneously with two other events run by the same company. You never know who is attending one of the other events. You may run into a potential business partner in the hotel bar.

Connect with Marty Marion  from at AM Days

Network Events

Most of the bigger networks in the affiliate space, hold their own annual events. Each of these gatherings has it’s own distinct flavor. But the common thread is that you get a lot of information about the specific network. You also typically get a road map for updates that each respective network has in the pipeline. And there’s always an emphasis on connecting advertisers with affiliates.

CJU (Commission Junction)

The 2-day event has been around for 17 years. It typically takes  place in September or October. The conference brings together several hundred of CJ’s top advertisers and affiliates for education and networking. Let’s face it, the gorgeous oceanside setting of Santa Barbara is a big draw for attendees. But CJU has also attracted some big name keynote speakers including Daymond John, Magic Johnson, and Kevin Bacon. There’s also an exhibitor space outside. This enables attendees to learn more about the brands (and grab some really good swag). All while soaking in some sunshine.

The highlight is always the swanky awards dinner, which takes place outside on the final night. The awards honor advertisers and affiliates in a variety of categories and usually features entertainment.

Takeaway:  CJ makes the most of the beautiful location to get attendees outdoors while still “working”. Plan ahead to set up meetings. Many of  the top marketers from each brand attend. It’s an opportunity to get in front of  the decision and deal makers.

Tip: Book as early as possible. The conference hotel is always sold out months in advance of the event.

Connect with Adam Dahlen from at CJU

LinkShare Symposium (Rakuten Linkshare)

This event is held twice a year ( in January or February in Arizona and in June in New York City). Both are 2-day events and include plenty of opportunities for advertisers and affiliates to connect. Getting the most from your relationship with the network is the focus of many educational sessions.

Takeaway: About 500 advertisers and affiliates attend and it’s a good place to forge new business relationships. It’s also a great time to meet with network reps and discuss any issues or formulate new plans.

Tip: Come prepared to recruit new affiliates.

Connect with Adam Dahlen from at Symposium New York

ThinkTank (ShareASale)

The 3-day network event has been taking place annually since 2004. ShareASale is anything but conventional, so the location and format are always changing and evolving. ThinkTank is an exclusive event (typically about 200 to 250 attendees). ThinkTank brings together the network’s top clients with new affiliates and advertisers. There is always a focus on bloggers– recruiting them and helping them better understand affiliate marketing.

Takeaways: The emphasis is on interactions, learning,  effective business development, and fun.

Tip:  This event isn’t announced until just a few months before it takes place. So, keep an eye out for registration and sign up.