Saturday, 6 April 2013

Performance Marketing in New York City - March 2013

It was a very interesting few days in NYC in March, where Performance Marketing Insights held its inaugural conference slap bang in the middle of the action in the Crowne Plaza, Times Square Manhattan. 

Probably as an indication of the heritage of other Existem events there was strong European support from Affiliate Networks and other NYC was that the Affiliate Summit organization also had an event scheduled. Not co-incidentally Shawn's Performance Marketing Summit event clashed with PMI's first day. I had postulated that there was an element of bad blood involved here with the incumbent US affiliate event people feeling threatened by incomers from the old country!

Timing is all in marketing as many have said before me and the timings shed an interesting light on the hows and whys of how these clashed. PMI was announced during January 2013 and until then there was no hint of any other ASW activity in the East - apart from a photocopied page added into the ASW13 convention notes

So, as I attended both events, here are a few observations on the Affiliate turf wars in New York.

the Linkdex elevator pitch
PMS - Performance Marketing Summit

This was billed as going back to basics in respect that it was held in the same venue as the very first Affiliate Summit in 2003; the Baruch College campus on Lexington Ave. 

There were basic elements throughout and the conference materials were a little sparse, perhaps reflecting that there weren't big sponsors supporting the production of brochures.

The format was of quickfire 20 minute sessions to cover a lot of ground quickly, all in one room, without exhibition booths, apart from a couple of promo tables from the main sponsors. There were some excellent speakers, notably Brian of Shareasale and Mike Buechele.

One of Mike Buechele's slides at PMS13 shows display ad technologies infographic!
The event was marred slightly by one of the main speakers pulling out in the week running up to PMS, and it did seem a very hasty addition to have a 20min 'elevator pitch' session allowing attendees to give a brief 1 min pitch to the room.

Performance Marketing Initiatives

The PMI conference was far more businesslike - evidenced in a brochure that was very professionally produced and reflected the quality of speakers. We were privileged to hear some interesting sessions with topics reflecting innovations across the industry. 

As this was over two days, there was also a lot more opportunity for networking. I met up with many friends from UK and US in the Crowne Plaza bar on the Monday evening and caught up with much of the industry gossip. Even more fun was the event across town in the very cool Sky Lounge on the Tuesday evening which led to several Weds AM late risers! 

The two day PMI conference was visibly a more polished event overall, with some industry leading speakers and not just friends within the affiliate industry as I'd seen at PMS.  

Compare and Contrast

Both events had a strong speaker line up and tackled some of the pressing issues facing the industry, such as attribution and threats to the basic model of linking and reporting from browser software and elsewhere. 

Both also managed to attract a very strong attendees. From an exhibitor's point of view, the quality of attendees at PMI was much much stronger, certainly from judging from my own conversations at both events. At PMS, many I spoke to were just starting in affiliate or were pretty small merchants, I had three content writers on my table.

At PMI the attendees did live up to the billing as C-level execs and above and we at Linkdex had several very good and useful conversations that have already developed into client relationships. As an exhibitor, that has to be the measure for any event; and on reflection also differentiates the Affiliate Summit and A4UExpo events in Europe and the USA.

Shawn did note that the PMI website had only been registered in May '12 and that PMS had been planned well before that. I do question the use of of the 'Performance Marketing' name (a weird coincidence if it was), with the the addition of Summit to keep on 'brand'. Certainly there was no mention of the event until a few days after PMI was announced and was a simple photocopy page in the ASW brochure.

Judging by comments from a number of attendees I met at both events, it was seen as detrimental to the reputation of the ABW organisation and its excellent reputation built over the years of the Affiliate Summits.

Having said all that, the US is a huge space and there should be space for both events to be successful over coming years. I would urge both organisations to try and ensure there isn't the awkward calendar clash which overshadowed what was otherwise - with both events - a very good week for the Performance Marketing Industry.