There are about 3 weeks left until the start of another Affiliate World Conference – AWE Berlin 2017 (June 14-15). In case you’ve never heard about Affiliate World Conferences (AWC), check this website out : https://affiliateworldconferences.com/
There are 2 Conferences organized in a year, one in Europe (Berlin) and one in Asia (Bangkok) – hence the short names AWE (Affiliate World Europe) and AWA (Affiliate World Asia).
In case you didn’t know, Affiliate World Conferences were started by the same team, who has brought you the STM Forum. The original plan was to hold smaller, local meet-ups for like minded people, but the interest totally blew the organizers away … the rapid growth is insane, and it’s still getting bigger and bigger.
Below is a video highlight from the first AWE Berlin (2016), check it out 🙂
SOME HISTORY NOW 🙂
I just had a chat with Mr.Green, who is one of the founders of the STM Forum – along with Stackman and BBRock32 – so I can give you a pretty detailed summary of how it all started and how a small local meet-up turned into a massive Conference such as AWC.
How did Affiliate World Conferences actually come to life?
1. We need to roll back to 2011 – 3 young affiliates worked on a join venture project – StackThatMoney (STM Forum) and decided that it’s about time to actually meet in person too. They hired a cafe/bar in Melbourne and made a few blog posts about the upcoming event, to see if any other affiliates would show up too. MrGreen’s blog is still online, so you can check the invitation here : http://www.mrgreen.am/affiliate-marketing/melbourne-aussi-affiliate-meet-up/ The result was : about 30 attendees, the interesting fact – almost all of them are still in the business.
You might think that 30 isn’t a lot, but it’s not a common thing to sip drinks with 30 people who are doing the same for a living as you do, certainly not in the affiliate marketing industry. Long story short, this was the first of many-to-come private local meet-ups held across the world – US, Israel, China, Canada … these are still being organized from time to time and they are great for networking on a more personal level.
Check this page for the current schedule of local meetups organized by STM : https://meetups.stmforum.com/
Here is a video shot at one of the latest local STM meetups in Vancouver (2017) :
2. The next milestone would be the Amsterdam STM meetup, held in 2013 – the idea was to give all STM Forum members a chance to meet in person, exchange ideas and generally have a good time. It was still quite an informal meet-up with not much official program so to speak. You’d just come, have a good time and talk with like minded folks. This time, 150+ people showed up.
3. Next one was the first larger STM Forum meetup in Asia – in Bangkok, Thailand. This was probably when the organizers realized it made sense to target Asia and Europe separately, later on it evolved into AWE and AWA. This was the first meet-up with speakers and some official program. It took place in 2014 and this time, the amount of attendees passed the number 350.
Here is some video footage from STM Bangkok 2014 :
4. Next was an event in Europe again, I remember that the STM Forum members got to vote about the location and London was the winner – the meet-up took place in March 2015.The schedule improved a lot too, there were parties, many more speeches – there was a lot to do during both 2 days of the event. It was also the first STM event that I personally attended.
STM London was a game changer, 600+ attendees forced the organizers to sit down and think well about the future. With this many affiliates in one location, it was barely a “meet-up” anymore … they had to make a decision at this point – one option was to limit the number of attendees, the other one was to turn their meet-ups into regular conferences and keep growing. This is how Affiliate World Conferences were born.
Here is a cool video made durin STM London 2015:
5. Following the already set Europe vs Asia approach, the next conference was held in Bangkok again –the first AWA took place in winter 2015. For the first time, exhibitors were given the opportunity to rent booths (simple tables) at the event and present their services to the attendees – about 70 exhibitors took the chance. More speakers were invited too.
This was also the first conference that anyone could attend. The STM-Only approach was replaced with regular entrance tickets, that every attendee had to buy. The outcome totally blew everyone involved away – More than 1500 affiliates attended the event. The general sentiment was very positive, everyone seemed to enjoy the event.
A video was made from the first AWA footage as well of course :
6. Fast forward to summer of 2016, I find myself attending the first AWE conference in Berlin – since I have a family, I can’t travel much and BKK is too far away, but I couldn’t miss Berlin. The event was huge, almost 2000 affiliates (a few were missing to cross the 2k mark), more than 100 exhibitors in the market… parties, food, excellent speeches, more parties …
The best part was that I wasn’t feeling like I’m on a standard affiliate show, where 90% of the attendees are the exhibitors and company representatives … I guess it has to do with the fact that AWC evolved from the STM Forum meet-ups and HUGE part of the attendees are actually the STM members themselves.
Here is a pretty cool video from CharlesNGO, shot during AWE Berlin 2016 :
7. So far the latest conference was held in Bangkok in winter 2016, so it was an AWA again. And it broke all records once again : almost 2300 attendees, more than 130 exhibitors. Everything was bigger again – more speeches, more events (official or not). I didn’t make it again, but I surely plan to visit the next AWA, it’s about time that I pay a visit to BKK 🙂
Based on what I heard from the friends who attended, the show was great again, perfectly organized, with no real hiccups or problems. Everyone I talked to basically loved it.
THIS BRINGS US BACK TO AWE BERLIN 2017 (JUNE 14-15).
The next AWE starts in about 3 weeks, so what is it gonna bring for us? The organizers confirmed that all the booths are pretty much sold out by now and the amount of sold tickets crossed 2000. The expected numbers are about 2500 attendees and around 140 exhibitors and sponsors.
The STM Forum will have it’s own booth too at the conference, so stop by to say hi, I will be present at it on both days for a few hours. Amy (vortex) and manu_adefy will be there too.
I’m looking forward to a few things at this years AWE :
1. Speeches : the one I’m looking forward the most is the speech of Eric Whitman, who is the author of “advertisers bible” Cashvertising. Hugh Hancock always gives an awesome speech with a twist of humor too. And I’m also interested into what Trey Lewellen has to say about his Flashlight Campaign that ignited Native advertising 🙂
These are just 3 of many speakers that will hit the stage on AWE.
2. Beer Garden – June can be HOT and nothing helps to fight hot weather as good as a few cold beers. Generally, I’m a fan of German beers and food, so I expect to gain a kilo or two 🙂
3. Meeting with friends – I got quite a few skype/online friends that I only get to meet at these conferences, this is probably of highest value for me.
4. Meeting with the STM Forum members – I will spend way more time at the STM booth this year, so I’m really curious about who’s gonna show up to say hi.
5. Parties – I’m not a party animal, but I will definitely attend at least some of the official ones. Lot’s of effort has been put into organizing it, so I definitely want to check some of them out.
DOES IT EVEN MAKE SENSE TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE LIKE THIS FOR YOU?
Many people ask me, whether it makes sense to attend a conference like this, after all it’s not exactly cheap to do so : ticket price, travels, hotel, food … it adds up for sure.
I’m not gonna tell you anything like : You must go, it will make you rich … cause it’s not true. But I will tell you that you should go, in case you can afford it. In case you’re wondering why, read on. Let me use a story from my personal life, those always illustrate things the best.
First of all, I have to admit that I never went to an affiliate conference until 2012, I simple didn’t understand how it could help me. I was doing well without it (since 1998), I’m not really a person who loves to talk to strangers … so why go, right?
I only realized it was a failure, when I attended my first conference in 2012 – it was an adult affiliate show held in Budapest. The minute I entered the venue, I knew I was working in a shrinking market. I knew the numbers of attendees and exhibitors from the past and I could see it was way less now. There were less companies presenting themselves, the general sentiment was kinda negative … 5 minutes later, I knew I had to look for new opportunities or I might face financial problems pretty soon.
I also met with Attila from iamattila.com in person for the first time at that show, we knew each other online already, but we definitely started to talk more after having a few beers together. Attila felt the same way about the adult biz, so we both kinda realized the need to try something else, at the same time. To sum it up, we both moved into media buying and as you can see, we are both doing fine.
If it wasn’t for that show, who knows where I would be now, maybe I’d be still struggling in the same area.
Let’s take a look at another show that I attended – the STM London 2015… I liked the speeches, I liked the venue and all but the best part for me was meeting IvanCy from Kimia at the venue lobby – he told me about those weird Carrier Billing offers they have in their affiliate network … never heard about it before, but I tried to promote them once I returned home and bang – it made me many thousands of dollars in profit. If I wouldn’t attend the show, I wouldn’t meet him …
IT ALWAYS MAKES SENSE TO GO, FROM ONE REASON OR ANOTHER …
Every single show that I attend brought a few stories like this for me, it always gave me something, it’s never been time wasted. Quite often, it’s not the official schedule and events themselves that give you the most value, it’s about the people!
In order to get the most from a conference, you need to do your part too – people won’t approach you on their own and throw knowledge at you – you need to ask the right questions, walk with ears and eye wide open … attend the good speeches, say hi to people who sit next to you… you never know who will give you the piece of information that you need.
Make sure to stop by the boots of the exhibitors too, working with an affiliate manager that you met in person is WAY easier than staying in the anon mode. Collect visit cards and reach out to them once you get back home. This is quite priceless for newbies who are commonly having problems to get accepted into new networks.
WHY AWE IS THE BEST SHOW TO ATTEND IN SUMMER, IN MY OPINION?
There are many shows organized across the world, some better some worse, but I honestly believe AWE is the best show that you can attend in the coming months.
For me there are 2 main reason for this :
1. Speeches that you actually wan to listen to. Not all of the speeches will rock, that’s not possible, but there will be some that you don’t want to miss. Erick Whitman, Hugh Hancock, Neil Pattel … these are people that can really push your business forward. Their speeches make sense and they are entertaining.
2. The fact that there is way more affiliates on this conference than there is exhibitors and representatives. Not sure about your experience, but many of the shows that I attended during the past few years, were filled with vendors and advertisers … it looked more like a meet-up of exhibitors, trying to sell stuff to other exhibitors.
AWE is not like this, bulk of the attendees are affiliates, just like you and me. Half of the STM Forum members will be there, including the moderators … so if you wanna meet with the STM community, AWE is the right event for that.
Looking forward to meet you there 🙂