Tatto Media, one of the largest display advertising networks in the world, just put out a very interesting 17 page report which posts responses to survey questions to over 2,500 affiliate marketers.

One thing I found particularly strange is that while over 30% of affiliates surveyed say they promote via search, when asked what conferences they find of value SMX and SES shows got 0% of the vote… not 1 person in 2500? Seems crazy!

Let me be perfectly honest. I have not been to a SES or SMX event for 2+ years so I am not going to say either way. But I would like to hear from you guys. Why do you find so little value in these events?

The report has a bunch of other interesting information about how affiliates gain information about industry information and offers.

2 things surprised me a bit…

1) that blogs dominated how news travels in the affilialte industry and….

2) that ShoeMoney.com was voted the most read affiliate industry blog with almost 45% of respondents reading. I am truly humbled by that! (and also off to raise our ad rates).

One correction to the report…. it says I have been blogging since 1992… ehhh I have been doing business as ShoeMoney since 1992… mostly mowing lawns but I did not start blogging until late 2004

You can read the full report below:

2010 Affiliate Survey

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

129 thoughts on “Tatto Media Report Finds SEO Conferences Have Zero Value”
  1. Congrats for being the most read affiliate blog, Shoe! πŸ™‚

    And I’m curious too. Out of all the conferences I’ve read about in various affiliate blogs, SES, SMX, PubCon and AdTech were those that were often mentioned (or that’s what I remember, at least). Btw, thanks for including the full report in your post.

  2. Interesting stats. And I’m so amused by this information: “Currently, affiliates prefer promoting health/diet offers over others.” Of course they would! Health and diet products are best-selling. Occasionally even I fall for weight loss ads posted on blogs. πŸ™‚

    1. I think this also might be due to the fact that more people are becoming more health-conscious as well as financially wise.

  3. Pretty comprehensive report. I’m not surprised with health and diet offers being number one. After all, I think most people who pay attention to ads are women.

    1. I don’t know about that. But I suppose it’s possible. Anyway, I’ve always had the impression most readers of affiliate and online marketing blogs are men. And I don’t know many affiliate marketers who are women.

      If, say, four out of ten affiliate blog readers are women, I wonder how many of those women click ads. And also how many men click diet/health/beauty ads.

    2. I don’t think that’s a valid statement. I mean, how would you know that most health and weight-related ads are targeted towards women? Have you the study to prove it?

    3. Aside from the fact that I find the immediate assumption that women *need* to click on weight and health ads, I would like to point out that the argument that weight and health-related ads are more popular because women click them is flawed because first, the study didn’t specify what kind of health and weight related ads there were, and secondly, did not even delve further into who clicked what.

      1. I apologize, ladies, if I seemed “sexist”, but that was just opinion based on observation and assumption. My wife usually gets distracted by beauty/health ads on TV, and I assume other women get distracted by blog ads more often than men. But maybe I’m wrong.

  4. Wow, the most read AKA the most popular affiliate blog. AWESOME, SHOE! Congratulations!

  5. So they went into such great detail to accuracy that they sort of added 12 years to your blogging life that didn’t exist.
    I think you should take this survey with a pinch of salt because it seems they have a hidden agenda.

    1. Well, when any survey says that a certain category ranks at absolutely zero, I tend to have my doubts about the validity of it as well. Even for such a small sample, it shouldn’t be zero – and the data shows that there was a possibility of a category ranking in increments of less than one percent.

  6. Congratulations to Shoemoney.com for getting recognition as one of the most widely read affiliate blog!

  7. I have never attended such a conference either, but one would think that with the number of conferences being held, that there would be some inherent value in them.

  8. I’m sorry, but why would it be staggering to find out that 93% of respondents would be influenced by commission payouts? Even though that factor might not be the sole basis of the decision of whether or not to promote an offer, it pretty much makes sense. Money talks, after all.

    1. Agreed. It’s interesting to note, though, that the study finds that the decision of which network to affiliate with is dominated by both a social and a financial factor.

  9. I think it’s all about HOW people utilize events. Most events content pretty much sucks (not all, but most). However, given the right mix of attendees you can make invaluable connections. So, it’s just about who is going and how you take advantage of the event to talk to who you want to talk to. Not saying a phone call couldn’t do the same thing, but it’s easier sometimes to make a personal connection… in person πŸ™‚

    1. Admittedly, these gatherings are great places to meet new people, but do you think the exorbitant fees they charge are worth it? I mean, honestly, how many times a year do you think you can justifiably attend a seminar that will give you very little in the way of new information?

      What’s more, after a while, you realize that you’re meeting the same people over, as well.

  10. I’ve pretty much stopped attending these events the past year or so. I found myself listening to speakers telling me how important it is to spend time analyzing the right keywords, writing good titles etc. I know that!

    The social part though… It still is worth spending some time with the “right people”. Or?

  11. Jeremy, that tidbit about you working as ShoeMoney since 1992 brings to mind something I read about marketing from my college days. It said that back in the day before literary agents, writers would incorporate themselves to create a legal entity and hit two birds with one stone – it protected them by separating their personal assets from those of the separate entity, and by creating a more professional entity for the publishing houses to interact with.

    Just sayin’.

    It’s so cool, though, that you did this too. I must remind myself to pursue your history more carefully – it’s really admirable that you’ve managed to do so much.

    1. I read something similar here on ShoeMoney a while back. Something about how important it is to incorporate instead of jumping into business as a sole proprietorship, especially if the business is high risk.

    1. I find this to be true. Some seminars have turned into selling events, and that’s enough to turn anyone off.

  12. That’s crazy. People will naturally flock to where the money is at though.

  13. Sad thing is, after attending a few seminars on one topic, they all begin to sound the same. Unless it’s something truly groundbreaking, and there hasn’t been something like that in a while, it isn’t worth going.

  14. To answer your question about the value of the seminars, Jeremy, I for one think that they’re very poor value for money. Sure, the first couple of seminars are great, and you learn a lot and get to network, but after attending that, it seems to be a waste to shell out at least $1,000 dollars to attend what is usually a rehashed version of things that you have already learned.

    If you’re getting in for free because you’re helping the organizers or are a speaker or something, then it’s great, and you can take advantage of the networking opportunities. But if not, it’s more productive to work the Internet and attend these seminars only rarely.

      1. I attend occasionally. I find that it’s worth it, even though it is true that some of the information is old hat. It pays to see the new faces in the industry and take note of the up and comers.

      2. I go a couple of times a year. I don’t think I’m as well-versed as a lot of people just yet, but I foresee that even this will dwindle down to one regular event every other year, and then maybe another one if things get interesting, or if there’s something new being offered.

      3. Me, I don’t even pretend to want to go. I’ve heard it all before, and if there’s anything new, I follow enough people’s blogs to hear about it soon enough.

  15. Shoe, another reason these seminars don’t feel like you’re getting your money’s worth is that the topics aren’t advanced enough. After a while, all the information they offer is something you’ve heard before. It would be nice if there was a staggered system, like, something for the newbies, and something more complicated for the people who have been in the loop for a while.

    1. I agree with this. It makes no sense to pay tens of hundreds of dollars to be told the same thing over and over again. I wonder if there’s really just no new material out there, or if we’re all just jaded.

    2. Maybe it’s because there are too many newbies and the demand for basic information outweighs the demand for more serious, advanced topics?

  16. Well, given that SES & SMX don’t program anything that targets affiliate marketers (and don’t likely draw many heavily in the affiliate space), I’m not surprised.

    1. Right. It’s just not the niche these seminars are made for, and so they’ve no value for these people.

  17. I’m not surprised to find that blogs dominate the way news travels. Shoe, you’re living example of this yourself.

  18. As if you needed any other affirmation that ShoeMoney.com is the top affiliate marketing blog after winning the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Award in January for best blogger πŸ˜‰

    Congrats Jeremy!!!!!

  19. We all love your blog. Look at how many people read your blog daily! Thanks ShoeMoney

  20. There are only two reason to hit a show: the contacts, and the parties. I’m 19, so the parties are reason enough! Esp in Vegas!

  21. I would not consider myself a match for SES or SMX. I just don’t think the angle is a fit for my bike shop, or my affiliate marketing. I don’t see any value in mixing with corporate types.

    1. I agree with you. I’m in the travel business, and occasionally I hear of colleagues attending marketing seminars. I don’t really get it. Why attend? I get it’s to learn from the marketing masters. But I’d rather attend a travel business seminar of some sort. I can learn marketing things from Shoe and other bloggers without having to attend a conference.

  22. SMX is $1300 for a 2 day pass. If you add flight, hotel, food, booze… that is a lot of cash. I follow the blogs religiously to try to keep up with the latest trends. The conferences just aren’t worth it for me.

    1. Tell me about it. I think I attended AdTech once, but after that I just didn’t want to go through all of it again. I did learn a lot of things at AdTech, enjoyed the discussions, enjoyed meeting people, but that’s it. Now that I’m looking back on that experience, it was worth it, but I’m not sure if I’d want to attend another event like that again. There’s a lot of money involved.

  23. My company always sends the Chief Marketing Office and IT Director to SES and SMX. Those conferences seem to reach for the bigger companies and agencies. I am debating between PubCon and Affiliate Summit for 2010 and 2011. I just feel like PubCon and Aff Summit pertain to me more personally and would help me hit my long term goals of generating passive income.

    1. Well, that’s one instance when these seminars have value for a seasoned affiliate – when someone else pays for it.

  24. I think that the ROI is too low to attend either SMX or SES. Between my mastermind groups and the blogs I follow, I can find all the information I need without going to the conferences. My time spent programming would be a better investment at this point. Though if I had to choose, I would attend the Affiliate Summit.

  25. I really enjoyed SES, but my company paid for me to attend. I left with a valuable list of contacts, more insight on SEO, and a list of tips that have really worked. SES would not be my 1st choice for affiliate stuff though. I think that there are better choices for affiliates. SES is for people who have cash in their pockets.

    1. Or, as you have put it, people who have other people footing the bill. You’re lucky. I hope if I ever get a full time job, they’d send me to these kinds of things too!

  26. I have been to SES and I found no value in it at all – just recently the affiliate side of SES did bring value to it… but other than that SES was def a waste of time

    1. Agreed. Without SES bringing in affiliate marketing, they will continue to fall behind. Kris Jones did a great job in convincing them to make a change.

    2. Hi Ian,

      Don’t take this the wrong way… but what did you hope to get from it?

      Did you not make any new business contacts, for example?


    1. For people who work and do affiliate marketing on the side, it’s not worth going to SMX and SES because for one thing, it costs too much, and compounds the cost of missing work to attend.

  27. I’ve had my eye on SES, but haven’t actually pulled the trigger. I read that they were moving into affiliate stuff, so this is good feedback. For now, I have plenty of friends in the industry that attend the conference and come back with key tips for the rest of us.

      1. That’s why I say something about this post is a bit skewed (sorry, Jeremy) this study’s a bit skewed. For one thing, the study is asking affiliates about the value of the seminars, but automatically people are drawn into assuming that the SES and SMX seminars have no value, period. What the study says is that it has no value for affiliates, and much less value for people like Shoe who have basically defined the industry as we know it. For the beginners and intermediates, as well as the people who aren’t really into it but are called upon to perform these functions as part of their jobs, these seminars are very valuable indeed.

  28. Now that we have numbers (which is zero respondents basically) maybe the SES and SMX organizers would start adding meaty talks and discussions to their program next time.

  29. Never been to marketing conferences and conventions. But I’m curious, what about SMX? I’ve heard of complaints about SES before, but not SMX.

  30. When I was a newbie in marketing and social media, which was, three to four years ago? I actually attended SES. I thought it was pretty good. But now I don’t really think it’s relevant for me anymore. I think I can learn more from Affiliate Summit and AdTech now.

  31. I am surprised that you’re surprised that affiliate news travels via blogs. Was this really news to you, or are you posing the question for the sake of conversation? My guess is that because you are a news producer, you aren’t aware of how we communicate with one another. I frequent message boards and follow about 30 different blogs, including many of the ones listed in the survey.

  32. Well of course. I’m not even slightly surprised by the result of the survey. Not a lot of marketing peeps can afford going to all the conferences. They’d only attend one or two a year, maybe three at most. And among the conferences, I think Aff Summit is the most packed, the one that’s mostly for affiliates. So it’s no wonder affiliate marketers in the survey didn’t pick SES and SMX. Those aren’t really for affiliates. And they don’t have anything new to offer.

  33. I’m in Singapore, so my options are limited. I am heading to SES Hong Kong for the first time this September. My work is paying for it, but I will take full advantage of the seminars at all levels. SES would not have been my 1st choice though, but who’s going to turn down a free trip? πŸ˜‰

  34. I am laughing at the question in the survey that asks if the commission payout impacts whether or not you decide to promote an offer. Umm… YEAH… just a little.

  35. I say go to conferences if you’re new and still learning about the ropes. If you’re not a newbie but not that experienced either, don’t go. I won’t say it will be a waste of time, but the talks are all the same anyway.

    Oh, but for people in advertising, Ad:tech = great experience. This is a according to a friend of mine, though. I wasn’t sure if he was talking about the socializing aspect of Ad:tech or the actual conference and speakers.

  36. I haven’t been to any conferences yet, but I wanted to send a huge congratulations to Shoemoney for being the #1 most popular blog with affiliates in the survey. Hell yes!

  37. I’m still in training to become an affiliate marketer, and as much as I’d like to go to every single possible event, I have to choose which events I go to with care. Unfortunately, SMS seminars don’t hold any appeal for me, since it seems like I’ve heard it all before.

    But I have to disagree with the conclusion that it’s totally hopeless. I think it’s very helpful for people who are still aspiring to become affiliate marketers, or those who are employed and tasked to do sales and SEO for their respective companies.

  38. I’ve heard of these seminars – they’re way to expensive to go to for someone like me, though. Maybe when my assets are more liquid.

  39. This report just confirmed something for me. Blogs are the way to go in advertising. Most of these 2500 marketers get their news from blogs, not magazines or newsletters. And I suppose a lot of people nowadays use Facebook and Twitter in the same way, to relay news.

  40. I have been to both SES and SMX. I was sent by my company as a rep for the IT group. I would not attend either with Affiliate marketing in mind. The sessions seem too general, even in the advanced sessions. And the fact that I look like Shoemoney does not make the experience better for me. Picture a less attractive version of Jeremy, making like 1/100th of what he does. Now picture people introducing themselves and asking all day if I’m Shoemoney. Fucking dismal.

  41. Lol mowing lawns in 1992. Wait, do you mean you used “Shoemoney” as your business name or something? That’s cool! Who knew Shoemoney the lawnmower would end up as the most popular affiliate blogger? πŸ™‚

  42. I would not consider SES or SMX, just because I have heard nothing but negative on the message boards. The affiliates who attended said they didn’t get anything out of it, apart from some good contacts. Just not worth the $ and time.

  43. I’m not an affiliate marketer, but these are my two cents. SES and SMX are not specifically about affiliate marketing. SES is more about SEO and SMX is all about search marketing. SES and SMX just do not have topics about affiliate marketing strategies. Most of the things talked about and discussed there are pretty much common knowledge among affiliate marketers. Or they’re just not that interesting.

  44. If I had the money I’d go to conferences. It’ll be awesome to meet the big boys (and girls) of online marketing. Sometimes just reading articles and blogs and ebooks aren’t enough. And it’ll be great if I get to meet people with the same interests.

    1. I’d like to go and hobnob with the rock stars of the industry, even if it does cost me an arm and a leg! Not that I’d be doing it with any regularity, but I imagine the inspiration that comes from something like that would be enough to get you through another year.

  45. If you know how to work a room, you can find value in anything that allows you to come into contact with potential business clients and partners. However, you do have to weigh the cost of what it takes to attend these seminars against the benefits that come with attending them.

    Frankly, I think once you reach a certain point, you get more from sitting at home putting in a couple of solid hours of commentary on someone’s blog and following updated blog posts than attending events such as these.

    1. I completely agree!

      Most people get started in online marketing by reading blogs anyway. I guess if you’re rich and you want to meet other people who are also in marketing it’s okay to go to seminars. But if you can’t afford the passes and transportation/food/lodging expenses, forget it. Keep on reading those blogs like Shoemoney and you’ll learn a lot.

  46. Everyone seems so down on the SMX online. I had my heart set on going, too. Now I’m not so sure.

    1. If you feel like it would be worth your time and the cost of the event, you should go. If business has taught me anything, it’s to follow my own instincts and not listen to popular opinion.

      1. That’s correct. Just because a bunch of other people say it didn’t work for them, there’s no reason it won’t work for you. If you’ve been wanting to go, go.

  47. Why are you so surprised that you got voted as the most read affiliate blog? You’re being too modest, Shoe. You know you’re the best. πŸ˜‰ Congrats!

  48. SES and SMX have value. After all, people are still attending and speakers are still willing to share and speak. It’s just that the survey was targeted for affiliate marketers who do not have anything to gain in attending SES and SMX. If the survey asked people in social media marketing or PPC most probably there will be people saying they found SES and SMX informative.

  49. I’m in the camp that feels that the only reason to attend an SEO-related conference is for the connections. Other than that… if you are up, running, and profitable, there isn’t much that you are going to pick up at a conference that is offered to the general public. I’m just sayin’….

  50. I was planning to attend SMX Seattle this coming June, and I need to have at least 200 bucks to reserve. It’s not much, but now that I’ve read this report and the comments by Shoe’s readers I’m having second thoughts. Maybe $200 for a reservation isn’t worth it.

    1. At *least* 200 just to reserve? That’s some serious moolah for someone like me. Have you decided on whether or not to go, though?

    2. Before you come to a final decision, discounting the option of attending, you might want to think about why you want to go in the first place, and how you expect it to benefit you. Carefully assess your skills against what you stand to gain, and whether or not you believe that the connections made during the seminar will be important or worthwhile.

      It might be a lot of money for now, but if you think it will benefit you in the long run, I suggest you give it a whirl.

  51. Congrats on being the most read blogger again! I heard this is your second/third time? πŸ˜€

  52. Conferences aren’t free, and if it’s not worth going to one because it doesn’t offer anything new or different then don’t go. Maybe one of these conferences (or both) just isn’t worth going to. Personally, I wouldn’t attend a conference if I still have to drive miles to get there or if I still have to travel by plane. I’ll only attend if it’s going to be where I am at present.

  53. The result/report is pretty much expected. Yes, I know blogs are the major sources of marketing news, and yes, I know that most marketers get influenced by commission payouts when advertising a product, etc. Not really new information.

    1. Ironically, that’s exactly what’s being discussed – the lack of new info on SEO that makes attending seminars senseless for people who are already well-versed in the topic.

  54. I get my tech and media news by reading blogs too. I don’t really sign up for newsletters. So most things I learn are from blogs and social media sites.

  55. I’m surprised too that not one person in 2,500 said SMX/SES events have value. I mean, really? Reading the responses here, people don’t seem too surprised.

  56. My guess would be because the SEO seminars are probably full of the same material that is common knowledge about SEO. True SEO pros rarely give away their prize secrets. I’ve attended a few SEO conferences and can honestly say that everything that was discussed I already knew about.

  57. Blogging is a more reliable source of information when it comes this industry – so it comes as no surprise that the survey lists that most people get their information this way. I hardly think people can write books or instruction sets on internet marketing – in the time it takes to get published, it’d be obsolete.

  58. ShoeMoney.com’s the the top rated affiliate blog? Was there ever any doubt? Congratulations, Jeremy!

  59. Congratulations to Shoemoney.com for being voted as the top affiliate site of the year! Keep up the good work!

  60. Conferences provide a great opportunity to learn and connect with other industry experts. I have picked up quite a bit of new information at SES and SMX. From finding new vendors, to new clients, to new tips and tricks, both conferences have something to offer for everyone.

  61. I think that the reason that even though 30% of all affiliates make use of some sort of search engine tool, it doesn’t mean that they are at the stage where a seminar on the use of such tools will be useful. Hence, the lack of value among respondents.

  62. Most affiliates wouldn’t bother with SMX and SEM seminars because they don’t want to bother being taught things they already know how to do.

  63. Congratulations on the ranking, Shoe. Let’s hope that we can all achieve some of your success.

  64. Is it me, or are there suddenly a lot more comments than there were a couple of hours ago? Well, that just comes with being the top affiliate blog, doesn’t it? Congratulations, Jeremy.

  65. Funny !

    “I am truly humbled by that! (and also off to raise our ad rates).”

    Way to go !

  66. I’d have been very surprised if any of the affiliate community had attended an SMX or SES.

    Although the content is good they tend to be geared more the education of advertisers.

    The expo part of the shows tends to be lighter, it’s more a bolt on to the education program and most search affiliates think they know it all anyway.

    I’ve not many any search affiliates who use the expensive analytics/reporting tools generally on show at SES/SMX, outsource paid search to agencies who exhibit (the likes of efficient frontier), but the real reason might be that the networking and parties are not the same as an affiliate summit/adtech/pubcon.

    I’d also be interested to see the demographic of the affiliate base, any European affiliate worth his salt would include a4uexpo in there and it wasn’t on the list.

    It might have been useful if the “other” categories had not been so big.

    I also found it interesting that only 60% found trade shows to be of value. That might be a by-product of 75% of the respondents being newbies.

    It would have been interesting to see what % of respondents were full-time affiliates.

    Interesting report nonetheless.

  67. Congratulations Shoemoney. It is easy to see why you are the best. You have the best blog and the best community of visitors. I am new to you blog and have been on it for hours.

    As for the conferences, they generally do not bring any added value. You never feel as though you received that “golden nugget”. Therefore, they are a waste of time.

  68. Very interesting information and not what I expected. But looks on the graf that you are doing something right. Good blog you have here Shoemoney.

  69. Thank you for the report. Very surprising about the zero value of conferences. And congrats on being the most read blog among affiliaters. Well deserved.

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