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  1. #1
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    Thanks for the affirming comments about my presentation, everyone!

    I had twenty minutes, and it was a killer to condense the content to that length. I left a lot of good stuff on the cutting floor! The speech as delivered was probably 99% the same as the prepared text. In some contexts I'll wing it from notes, but not here, not for something this big.

    There was no immediate feedback about what I said -- the meeting moved immediately into the next speaker. There were positive comments during the break, as much to do with my speaking style as what I actually said, though. "Your passion came through!" "That was Lincoln-Douglas stuff." One of the network fellows asked for a copy of my presentation, and said he appreciated the fact that I stayed with basic principles -- "protect our commissions from last-minute interlopers" -- rather than trying to dictate how-to's.

    I sensed that the networks realize there are big problems in several directions, and they're nervous. They handle a lot of money, but their margins are thin enough that they're not as flush as many affiliates think. I heard several hints that it will be a major challenge to make the transition from the way things are to the way they ought to be without losing financial viability. It's a like a person who knows they have a cancer that needs to be cut out, but is at significant risk of bleeding to death during surgery. I wasn’t sure what to think about that.

    For me the most pleasant surprise of the day was BizRate. Their presentation (given by Henri Asseily) was a good counterpoint to Shawn's and my own. Henri focused on some points that both Shawn and I gave short shrift to because of time constraints - such as merchants' own traffic becoming "commissionized" and the networks' part in that, and how parasites shift the apparent activity without actually bringing new productivity to the mix. I would say that BizRate is definitely "on our side" regarding the issue of parasitic link placement, even though they are huge compared to most of us on this forum.

    I was pleasantly impressed with Tim Storm of FatWallet. He's an affiliate who has done some testing of a shopping toolbar (maybe a hundred users worth of testing) but suspended that work because of concern about the lack of standards. He told me in conversation over coffee that he sometimes had problems with people making accusations of impropriety but what they were saying wasn't accurate at all. I got a sense from this and from some comments that others made, that merchants and networks sometimes brush off legitimate concerns because they have been burned by too many complaints that are poorly researched, poorly presented, and sometimes flatly inaccurate.

    We ALL have a responsibility to make sure that what we say is accurate, and presented in a balanced, logical manner. A valid concern presented badly can do as much harm as good, creating a whole new set of problems which obscure the original concern.

    My impressions of the folks who were present on behalf of companies that I consider "bad guys" were mostly negative, in one case chillingly so. In the interest of business etiquette I should probably have shaken hands and uttered some bland banality, but I couldn't do it. I just couldn't do it.

    In today's litigious atmosphere I'm cautious about saying much about the presentations of those speakers, but they all seemed to be speaking from notes rather than a prepared text as I did. Some of the points they tried to make were that they fully disclosed themselves to users, they were not difficult to uninstall, and they were taking steps to make sure they didn't overwrite other people's links anymore. I asked one fellow why the rest of us had to protest to make them take notice of ethical issues like that; why didn't they just build that into their methods in the first place? He launched into a bunch of business bafflegab that went right over my head. I don't have a clue what he said. But I don't think he liked the question.

    I think the "applications" fellows who spoke are trying to behave more acceptably than they have in the past, so I suppose that’s small progress, but even so they all side-stepped the issue of fair use of other people’s content. And there was no suggestion about making any kind of amends for stolen commissions in the past.

    One issue that got kicked around during the question period was how much (if at all) merchants and affiliates should have to disclose to each other about their methods of doing business. For example, if a merchant chooses to work with Entity X who uses techniques that other affiliates consider, um, undesirable, should the merchant be required to let other affiliates know? No conclusions were reached, but there seemed to be a feeling emerging that some form of disclosure would be a good thing as long as it didn't have to be too detailed.

    While there was general agreement that affiliates and merchants are ultimately responsible for deciding who they will or won't work with, the opinion was expressed that the networks could do a LOT more to make informed decision-making easier for affiliates and merchants alike, in regards to promotional techniques that they'd rather not work with (or compete with). I certainly agreed with that!

    Another question that was discussed was whether the last affiliate link clicked should get the cookie. Other possibilities were discussed a bit, but the feeling seemed to be that the last link should get credit for the sale. I spoke up to say I agreed with that, AS LONG AS THAT WAS NOT ACHIEVED BY INTERCEPTION.

    Another issue discussed in the question period was when (not "whether", alas!) it was acceptable for shopping toolbars to present reminders to "their" members about rebates, coupon, etc. If it wasn't okay for them to do that when the shopper was on our sites, what about waiting until they had clicked through to the merchant? I protested about that, because I don't think ANY third-party intrusion into my sales process is acceptable. I flatly said I would call it THEFT. Whether that will be heard or heeded remains to be seen, but I said it.

    The networks retreated into closed session, and the rest of us killed time for the duration. The statement at the end of the meeting was warm-fuzzy, we’ll-work-on-things stuff, and it remains to be seen what the networks will finally come up with.

    I was surprised at LinkShare’s goodie bags at the end – for starters I thought there was a gentlemen’s agreement that no one would use the occasion for any sort of grandstanding. As well, I’d have been more impressed with my T-shirt if it had been a size I could actually use! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    ====================

    On a personal note, it was fun to meet people I had talked with on various message boards. In some cases I didn’t have any particular mental image of the person, but for some I did. For MrMerchant, my mental image was of someone short, squat and bald, like the cartoon character Mr. Magoo. Jeff Molander, the real person, is tall, dark, and handsome enough to be a J. C. Crew model. He wasn’t young enough to be my son, but some of the fellows were. I was one of the older people there, and one of only a handful of females. I enjoyed meeting Connie Berg. Her down-to-earth style was refreshing after the biz-speak we’d been subjected to all day. We shared some chuckles over the affiliate marketer’s occupational hazard – weight gain and butt spread! Someone else I enjoyed was Brook Schaaf – dry witty humour and wonderful blue eyes! He took Connie and me with him to visit a friend of his at the offices of Major League Baseball. I’m not much of a baseball fan, but it was great to tell my kids about. Several folks wound up at supper together at a French restaurant. Good food and lots of shop talk. A few people went to Michael Jordan’s in Grand Central Terminal afterwards, and shared a bottle of wine to celebrate Todd Crawford’s birthday. Todd is a wine aficionado, and he launched into poetic rhapsodies about the wine. I wish I could remember what kind of wine it was! :-)

    The next morning I went shopping. I went to Tiffany’s and Bergdorf Goodman, among others, and it was fascinating. It almost becomes a moral question, though, when you ask about the price of a lovely necklace and it’s more than a quarter-section of good farmland. Friday afternoon I visited the new offices of Dessy Creations (bridal and formal wear). I did some work for them when they were CJ merchants in 2001, and we have stayed in touch as friends. I saw their entire operation except the sewing, which takes place elsewhere in the city. Next I went to the Museum of Metropolitan Art, and a special treat was that Eaglefire came into the city to meet me at the museum. It felt like a spy novel: neither of us knew what the other looked like, but we connected and had a delightful time together, enjoying the art and getting to know each other.

    Saturday I was tired of walking, and decided to rent a car to explore further afield. I drove through a variety of city neighbourhoods, and also drove up the Hudson River some distance. New York’s fall colours are definitely more vivid than in Manitoba. I checked out the shopping in a couple of smaller communities outside the city. It was useful research, because I discovered some stores I could be promoting that I had been neglecting because as a Canadian I had not heard of them. I put on over 300 miles by the time I returned the car (past midnight).

    On Sunday the flight to Toronto was uneventful. A pleasant coincidence was that my youngest son was in Toronto for meetings, and we were on the same flight to Winnipeg. However, severe thunder and lighting closed the airport for a while, so schedules were disrupted. It was almost midnight before we even got off the ground, and it was after five yesterday morning before we finally got back to Brandon.

    Now my big challenge will be to get caught up on everything I should have been doing before this presentation came up … but that will wait until after I catch up on my sleep!

    Elisabeth Archambault

  2. #2
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    Excellent job E ... and great narrative of the meeting and your time in New York.

    All We can do now is wait for the Networks to issue their take on the meeting or a joint statement.

    Does anyone know how this will be issued?

    Dave

  3. #3
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    Thanks you Elisabeth for giving us a feel for what went on in that meeting. I am so glad you enjoyed your visit to NY. I would have loved to have joined you and Eaglefire at the musuem. Oh well too late now. Again thank you for your thoughts about the meeting and for a job well done.
    Cazzie [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  4. #4
    pph Expert! Gordon's Avatar
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    Well done Elisabeth, thanks for everything.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip, your sumnation is super, now we can only wait on the big boys and see what they decide on.

    Here's hoping things get better for us and soon.

    Well done everybody at ABW we all helped in this.

    Travel safe
    Gordon
    YouTrek

  5. #5
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    Thank you. That is exactly the type of recap I was hoping for. You did an amaziong job for the affiliate community.

  6. #6
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    Now that is the kind of information we have been asking for.

    Without being repetitious, I am so glad you were there. We sent the right person to get the job done.

    (Almost breaking my arm patting myself and all the voting members on the back....Elizabeth, too!)

    Did the people who promised money come through for you and are you OK that way?

    The Wolf Credo: Respect the elders. Teach the young. Cooperate with the pack. Play when you can. Hunt when you must. Rest in between. Share your affections. Voice your feelings. Leave your mark.

  7. #7
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    I haven't added everything up yet (still recovering from sleep deprivation), but I'm pretty sure I won't be out of pocket much if at all.

    Now if someone could just send me a few thirty-hour days to catch up on regular work that got put aside ... [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  8. #8
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    Yeah, too bad PayPal doesn't offer an hours account! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    J

  9. #9
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Very great summation Elizabeth and just what I envisioned. Networks wondering if they could protect the new revenue stream ( parasites double dipping merchants) while cutting out the obvious thievery from 3rd world programmed BHO theftwarez. I loved the part where you interjected that any incent interlopers on your site, or the clicked on merchant's site, was strickly taboo.

    Sounds like the easy money crowd out numbered you, but you got your licks in anyway. I see you even brought my A-G diversion disclosure into play as transparancy in the merchant profiles allows for informed choices.

    WebMaster Mike

  10. #10
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    bumping cause I think this is what people are looking for...


    Thanks Buckworks! Good job!


    http://SearchToSale.com - Turns your search box into money.

  11. #11
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    Mucho Gracios

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador mailman's Avatar
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    Nice job Elisabeth! Nice to see we had some representation from Canada.
    Gerry

    Where Do You Want To Be Tomorrow?

  13. #13
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    Great Job Elisabeth. Thank you for representing us, and thanks for this wonderful report.

  14. #14
    Ad Network Rep ToddCrawford's Avatar
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    Very well written Elisabeth.

    I appreciated your participation.

    The wine was Caymus 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Todd Crawford
    Commission Junction

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