A4UExpo – Simply Excel-lent!

Congratulations to Affiliate Champion 2007 Matt Wood, and his team from Existem for the quite brilliant A4UExpo that took place at The Excel in London over the last couple of days. It was a highly enjoyable event, not just socially, but also from a business point of view too. I left with a lot of positivity (and a serious hangover) plus a sense of pride in being involved in such a fantastic business. Having watched the David Brent Lookalike (i think this is his website) in action at the A4UAwards it did cross my mind (around about the feeding the pony line) that running a bundle of sites and a mild obsession with ducks was not such a bad way to earn living after all.

I have to admit to not going to as many sessions as I’d have liked too. Nerves and some prep for session 13 (plus not being able to locate a laptop at the Expo with a working version of powerpoint) on Day 1 (Why Relationships Matter. Get The Best Working For You) meant I missed Lee’s Let’s Get Social chat. Hopefully session 13 went ok – only one person left early, so perhaps Geno, Mark White of UK Web Media didn’t do so bad – so a big thank you to everyone who attended and asked questions, especially as we were up against sessions involving Super Affiliates, Cashback and Innovations!

Away from the sessions was the exhibition hall – the place for networking, chatting and talking business. Big thanks to all the networks and merchants who were happy to chat with us about what we’re doing in affiliate marketing. The big thing for me was the comments, from all networks, about the desire to work with content affiliates like ourselves. In my opinion, cashback and PPC have dominated the landscape – and rightly so to a point – but there’s a definite place for content affiliates and it’s great to be reassured that we’re valued in amongst the affiliate mix.

Most stands had prizes or freebies (always good), but if you didn’t attend Expo then look out for the chance to win a Mazda with Altogether Ads and a trip to Bermuda with Buy.at (and good luck Malcolm on your move to the US market). There no doubt will be a list of winners from the stands, but apparently a geochemistry doctorate is a plus when it comes to pen counting as I won a chair from A4UAward winners Existem Affiliate Management! Thanks guys, and well done on your well deserved award too!

The A4UAwards did provide a lot of discussion on the first night of the event! Everyone will have their opinion on some of the winners and the highly commendeds – personally I’d say there were some “interesting” results. Perhaps next year they’ll be a voting system in place along the lines of one company one vote to better reflect the industry as a whole. One A4UAward category though did concern me more than most – and that was for “best new affiliate”! Why were there only two nominations? The industry has moved on massively, the Expo is indicative of that, but have we moved on so far that it only created two newbies worthy of any level of mention?

Anyway, I could go on and on, but just briefly I’d like to offer thanks to…

Jackpotjoy for lunch and ongoing support!
All the stands who gave us freebies (please send more).
Chris Johnson for letting me have the last go on the Playseat – I need one!
All network staff who took the time to chat to us!
Everyone who we socialised/networked/drank/ate with over the 2 days
Streetcards for sorting out replacement business cards at the last minute.
Anyone else who doesn’t fit in any of the above, but due to alcohol I can’t remember to list!

The after show party ended in a laugh a minute session with the likes of Frostie, Paul, Julie, John, Jason, Mark, Elaine, Dave and of course Jude. Clarke was sort of there, but occasionally employed a Polish guy to drink on his behalf!

And it was that after show drinking session which perhaps best summed up the affiliate industry! It has changed, but at the same time it hasn’t! Paul describes it well with his Back to the Future post – yesterday evening could just as well have been 3 or 4 years ago! Bunch of people in the same industry just being mates… and that’s how it should be!

We’re all here because we’ve worked together to get here – each in their own unique way – and to keep moving forward agency, network, merchant and affiliate need to keep working together… after all we’re all meant to be on the same side!

Affiliate marketing will never be perfect, but for 2 days in October 2007 it damn well near was… roll on A4U Expo 2008.

For other views on the Expo, then try Paul, Kieron (I smiled twice!), Keith, Jess (sorry, didn’t see you!), Lee (sorry, didn’t see you either), Morley Mouse (ditto), Stephen (erm, ditto again!), Joe (hooray no ditto), Nadeem (nice pics – sorry we missed each other), Kirsty, James (always a pleasure – and here’s another WH bingo reminder!).