It has been a busy summer for online marketing professionals. LeadsCon East and Affiliate Summit East were scheduled three weeks apart, making scheduling and planning for these important events somewhat more complicated than in years past.
Despite the close proximity of the two shows, each continues to offer a different kind of value.
LeadsCon attracts a more advanced professional group, one that leans toward advertisers, brands and the professional services end of the online marketing business. Transparency, lead quality and government regulations are repeatedly covered topics.
By comparison, Affiliate Summit focuses more on the tactical aspects of affiliate and performance marketing. It’s aimed at the beginner and intermediate affiliate marketers, with seminars and workshops on website optimization, blogger relations, SEO and finding the right affiliate network.
LeadsCon East Recap
LeadsCon East, which took place July 23–25 at the Midtown Hilton in New York City, was a solid show. This focus of this year’s show seemed to be new service products for lead verification and quality monitoring, which was encouraging. Several agencies and brand managers spoke on the various panels, and I know they want to hear what affiliate marketers, networks and agencies are doing to make sure they receive quality leads and that their online assets are protected.

My favorite panel was “With So Many Solutions, Why Are There Still So Many $#!*Y Leads?” This perfectly sums up the state of performance marketing. Yes, there are tons of great services in the marketplace, and many were on display at LeadsCon East. However, given that there is no self-regulation in the industry, little uniformity and almost no quality standards across the various industry networks, these problems will continue to exist. As I wrote in my recent print column, “The Lead Generation Marketplace Grows Up,” published in the summer issue of Revenue Performance magazine, it should be mandatory to have compliance services in place to survive as an affiliate network.

The fact that LeadsCon founder Jay Weintraub had the foresight to organize a panel that focused specifically on accountability and compliance issues was music to my ears. It is consistent with my belief that the online marketing industry will continue to evolve along the lines of “Online Darwinism” — the gradual and natural selection of only the most hardy and legitimate agencies and marketers.
Worth noting, too, is that there was some very interesting corporate marketing that took place. Branding that caught my attention included orange sneakers given out by LeadiD to huge advertising on the largest halal cart vendor in New York — right in front of the Hilton.
Affiliate Summit East Recap
Affiliate Summit East followed from Aug. 12–14. Mobile and traditional online lead generation were both significant areas of focus.

The event was best described to me as “LobbyCon. The industry took over every square inch of the Hilton lobby and its bars, lounges and restaurants.
Other observations:

      • There were many companies on site with a derivation of the word “mob” in their name. Each seemed to be discussing mobile campaigns, form designs, optimization, devices … you name it. It is still too early for anyone to have a clear sense as to what is working, which is what breeds all the anticipation and excitement of finding the next winners and likely explains why these “mob”-focused companies are the latest crop of entrants into the affiliate marketing space.
      • The pros of this year’s Affiliate Summit East: a large attendance; “Meet Market” event on a Sunday that was full of energy; a full day of exhibit hours; and great evening entertainment.
      • The cons: those in attendance were mainly of the junior-level variety; the abundance of “job hoppers” looking for their next career opportunity; and the fact that are simply too many days (three) to exhibit.

Both LeadsCon East and Affiliate Summit East continue to grow and give much-needed exposure to new entrants in the performance and affiliate marketing industries. Unfortunately, a few of the old standby companies, such as Epic Media, have either disappeared or been restructured. This is indicative of our industry over the last decade. Although there is occasional contraction in certain areas, new channels continue to emerge, such as mobile, rich display and monitoring services.
The future possibilities of online and affiliate marketing continue to be exciting as we target a world that is attached to billions of PCs, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. LeadsCon East and Affiliate Summit East provide a sense of the vast potential to tap into these growing markets — so long as the industry continues to move toward greater accountability and compliance.