Linkshare Symposium West – 2011, a brief recap.

Maryellen Garasky, Danielle Dougherty and myself had the good fortune to attend the Linkshare Symposium West last week in San Francisco.  I missed both the east and west versions last year, and we picked up two amazing Linkshare merchants since then (Music Factory Direct and Roots CA and USA), so we were very eager to go check out the scene.

As many of you know, my travel planning skills are, let’s be nice and say, open for improvement.  That being said, we were invited to attend their agency advisory board the day prior, but I scheduled the flights for that evening.  January sure is busy, so I’ll chalk it up to that.  I do want to personally thank Linkshare for inviting us and promise to allow my staff to plan the travel next time :).

Now that that is out of the way, let’s get onto the event.  My first and most general observation from the event: There is quite a buzz surrounding Linkshare these days! As I said I missed the day of advisory boards, but those that came out of them had nothing but great things to say about the event.  I heard things such as:

“I haven’t been this excited about Linkshare for a long time”


“We have spoken about the same things for years at these events, but I really feel like things are going to be done.  What they have already released and what they plan on releasing is awesome.  I can’t wait!”

Those were unsolicited quotes.  I was sure happy to see everyone’s exuberance.  One of the first programs I managed was on Linkshare, Coldwater Creek, and so I’ve always felt a connection with the crew there.  But I’ll be honest, It had been a while since we felt that strong connection.  I’m real excited to grow our programs that are on Linkshare this year and will be using many of the things they have released to do so.  I think 2011 will be a very good year for Linkshare.

So, let’s get to some of the things we really liked that we saw:

  • Linkshare Lightning – new ad network that I’m looking forward to trying out.
  • Support of Euro coming in 2011
  • Saved and scheduled reports in new interface – not exactly new but still pretty cool
  • True Lock windows – ability to alter the time period you can return sales.

Adam and Melissa had a great presentation on advertisers and publishers.  It was a lively and interesting discussion as they presented both sides of the equation.  Here are some highlights of their talk:

  • Linkshare has paid out over a billion dollars in commissions
  • Sales were up over 37% year over year in Linkshare, same accounts
  • Apparel category was up 53%
  • Flowers and gifts up 70%
  • Beauty up 32%
  • Luxury up 62%

A lot of discussion was surrounding exactly how those merchants in those categories were able to drive that revenue.  A huge focus was put on the planning and advice notice Linkshare programs gave their affiliate partners about Q4 promotions and consumer sales throughout the year.  It mirrors what we have found with our merchants, not only Linkshare – the more you are able to provide affiliates, in enough time for them to act upon it, the better your sales will be through those partners.  It was great to see more confirmation of this practice.

They both also addressed what they feel is coming next in our industry, not limited to, but including the following:

  • Publisher sites getting much more sophisticated and focusing on enhancing the shopping experience for the consumer.  (I personally think this is a fantastic evolution, the more value you add as a publisher/affiliate, the more successful you will be)
  • More merges and acquisitions

Both Adam and Melissa discussed what makes a merchant successful.  Their answer – advertisers who get the basics down right do the best, competitive offers, clear, concise and frequent communications and willingness to help and negotiate.  Not difficult concepts to get down, but consistently performing them takes dedication and focus, but ultimately leads to success, as the numbers above prove.  It’s something that we focus on here.  We aren’t always successful, but we really work hard to hit that goal.

The keynote was delivered by Vanessa Fox, creator of Google’s Webmaster Central.  She did a great job and provided quite a bit of information.  It really was a great presentation that our entire staff enjoyed and learned from.

All in all a great event.  Lots of excitement about the network and it was great to reconnect with some old friends at Linkshare.  Did you go?  Did you find it as good as I did?

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