Affiliate Summit West: Jason Calacanis Controversial Keynote

By Ian Fernando

I know there was a lot of blog out there already speaking about Jason Calacanis Keynote speech but I want to put my version out on this issue as well. I will be talking about 4 sessions I went to and how it was beneficial and how it was ehh. The 4 sessions I visited were on split days and proves to be worthwhile and 1 was just jibber jabber. But first I would like to talk about the first session I went too which was Jason Calacanis speech.

I never heard of Jason but I have heard of Mahalo and have used it. But Jason posted a reaction about his speech on his blog. I myself do understand what he is talking about BUT to an extent. I just got in to affiliate marketing by ways of PPC and micro sites and I now do it legit, though I lose money here and there I do not try to pollute the pond per say. Jason started by simply saying Affiliate Marketers are scummy spammers, well not in those words but that is what he got across. This I agree because we care about clicks that the user experience.

photo credit: tris

I know I was shocked when I heard this but later into his detailed reason there was some truth to it. We as affiliate marketers have one thing on or mind and it is to convert the traffic. What percentage of affiliate marketers out there actually care about the user experience? If you have ever seen these landing pages, they are useless information with really good copyright material, but it really does not benefit the user, unless they buy.

Directly from his blog:

In the Affiliate World I'm the bad guy. The more Mahalo succeeds the more folks in the Affiliate business will suffer because the honest truth is that most consumers DON'T want to go to the sites that Affiliates are making. Affiliates typically make sties that are "thin" with little original content, and in some cases stolen content. These sites are typically made with goal of spending as little as possible to get you to click as much as possible--the result is profitability, but the cost is the user experience.

I do believe affiliate marketers are 'polluting the pond' by making these small micro sites and having the end user convert. BUT isn't that what marketing is getting the user to convert? Marketing alone is spam is it not? But the goal of spending as little as possible is untrue, since I can say I myself will spend money on good website and original unique content - not all the time but when I feel necessary I will.

Also there was a section where he speaks of long term vs short term. I agree to a fact that a person should strive for the long term BUT if a person does not see something in a short term what will make him go for a long term goal? There is that sense of great feeling when something small succeeds and you want to scale or duplicate it. If I never started seeing my first $5 online then I would probably be saying 'Internet Marketing is a Scam'.

One aspect I did like and which was posted as #10 on Marketing Punk's Blog is:

Failure is just as big a part of the American dream as success - don’t be afraid to shoot for the stars, and if you fail, that’s OK. Just build another rocket.

This blog is all about failure since you really need to fail before succeeding. I believe failure is part of a process because without failure means we have reach the end of success. Think about that and let it really sit in your mind, without failure we reach the end of success. It is a term I use all the time to help me push limits and boundaries. But Jason speech really opened ideas and mouths at the keynote, I think he was aiming his speech as a viral tactic or was just speaking his mind. I do understand to some extent where Jason comes from and I do believe a lot of the internet is spam - which does piss me off.

But back to the affiliate mindset, I do not think all affiliate marketers are spammers. I understand we have to 'massage' the end user to give them a better experience as well as convert the traffic for our benefits. But I cannot help but think to myself about the short term vs long term. I know I want to do internet marketing as a long term and create several businesses on the internet or business models. But for short term a person will not have that long term perception if he does not first see something short term to his advantage. The positive short term results help that person mentally feel better therefore foresee more into a long term action.

That is what I think about it and I think it was very informative and puts a controversial twist on affiliate marketing. But here are more blog reactions to Jason's Keynote Speech at Affiliate Summit 2008:

Winning the Web Reaction:

Another thing I want to add is that Jason seemed a bit hypocritical in what he had to say. In an ideal world, no one would ever game the system and we would all be friends helping each other out. But in the real world there is always going to be gaming and people are always going to have their own interests in mind.

Sam Harrelson Live Blogged with Time Stamps:

10:10am Calacanis is invoking Seth Godin’s Squidoo service and remarking about the large amount of content on Squidoo that is stolen and is overpopulated with “affiliate spam“. Why does Squidoo even exists? It exists to pollute the internet. There is nothing of value there.”

Amit Mehta shares his Opinions:

No, actually I DON’T believe most affiliates are spammers. I know lots of affiliates who sincerely strive to add value through their efforts. They build real sites that provide real value to the market place.

Ian Fernando
Involved in the internet space since 2002 and have been through the ups and downs of this online industry. I am a traveling digital nomad, media buyer, online strategist, and many more online titles.

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