My AWA2023 Journey
Last week, I went to Bangkok, Thailand, to attend the 2023 Affiliate World Asia. Affiliate World can be regarded as the top conference in the Affiliate Marketing industry. Having worked in this industry for nearly 4 years, this was my first time attending, due to some well-known reasons. Thus, I write this article as a memento.
In July, I received an email from the affiliate network mentioning AWA (Affiliate World Asia). Reflecting on it, it's been over three years since I started working in this industry, from knowing nothing to making a living out of it. In these three years, I have learned a lot, met people from all over the world, and previously I had no way to do so. Now, it's time to see the outside world, to meet my AMs (Affiliate Managers), to exchange ideas, to learn more, and to practice my spoken English along the way.
The conference lasted two days, on December 7th and 8th. Actually, there were related activities happening on the afternoon of December 6th, but I wasn't aware of them in advance, so I missed out. However, it wasn't a big issue.
I arrived at the venue at 9:20 AM local time to collect my entrance pass. Actually, I was a bit early since the venue only opened to everyone at 10:00 AM. Before that, it was set-up time for exhibitors. The items I received included four things: one was the Wi-Fi details for the venue, one was a map of the venue, one was a badge, and one was an access pass. You can peel off the Verticals/Traffic Sources you are interested in from your badge and stick them onto your access pass where it says ‘STICK HERE’, so others know what you specialize in and can easily start a conversation with you.
After entering at 10 AM, everything had not completely started yet, and the Main Stage presentations hadn't begun. I just wandered around to get familiar with the venue. There were a lot of people, and at this time, some would proactively greet you, chat, and exchange business cards. My approach was to first find the booths of the affiliates and traffic source platforms I had marked in the App beforehand to meet. If someone was free, I'd go up, say hello, and have a chat.
My spoken English finally came in handy. Initially, I was quite nervous, afraid of making grammatical mistakes and such, but it turned out to be completely unnecessary. Most people there didn't speak English as their first language, and everyone makes mistakes, so no one would laugh at you for that. In my conversations with the AMs (Affiliate Managers), I expressed this concern, and their response was that we are here to communicate and exchange ideas. As long as we understand each other, grammar doesn't matter. Thinking about it, it's true – isn't the essence of communication just about understanding each other's meanings?
During this period, I also received quite a few items, such as souvenirs from the affiliates and Promo Codes from traffic sources, among other things.
After meeting with some Affiliate Managers (AMs), I went to the Main Stage to listen to the presentations. Thanks to my regular listening to YouTube tutorials, I was able to understand most of the Main Stage speeches without subtitles. I spent most of the first day learning at the Main Stage.
On the second day, I only scheduled one presentation that interested me. The rest of the time was spent meeting with AMs (Affiliate Managers) and friends. Meetings with AMs were scheduled before the trip, as I knew beforehand that the presentations I was interested in were all on the first day. Therefore, I arranged to meet with the AMs on the second day. In between, I also met a few affiliates whom I had known for a long time but had never met in person, just to see each other and exchange ideas.
This is one of my favorite speakers, mainly focusing on Native Ads. He proposed a viewpoint that Affiliate Marketing is essentially a form of arbitrage, fundamentally about creating value through marketing. For affiliates, if something is no longer profitable, then switch, there's no need to be stubbornly persistent. He mentioned that 2022 was very good for E-commerce, but 2023 wasn't as favorable. However, it was very good for Leadgen. Of course, this might specifically pertain to the Native Ads sector.
The idea here is that Affiliates/Media buyers should act like businessmen in pursuing profits, going with the flow. If you're struggling in a certain area, try to step out of your comfort zone and switch directions.
Of course, this isn't the only insight I gained. Some of the details from the presentations can be applied to my own campaigns.
This leads to the second insight I gained from attending the conference: thoughts on choosing the right track. I have actually been working with Push traffic, which tends to be of lower quality because it's intrusive to users. In terms of volume, it's much smaller compared to FB (Facebook), GG (Google), or Native Ads; achieving $xxx per day is already quite good. Its future is also quite worrisome, as Google could crack down on it any day. Of course, this isn't to say that this direction isn't profitable. I'm still running campaigns in it and recommend it to beginners for its affordability and as a learning opportunity. However, if one aims to scale up significantly, then Native Ads, FB, or GG are the inevitable choices.
The relationship mainly refers to the one with the affiliate networks here. As for the traffic sources, it goes without saying – you simply deposit and spend money with them, and that's it. For instance, I got a voucher worth $250 from PropellerAds, which was a nice extra benefit.
When it comes to affiliate networks, although they all really hope you run their offers, there's a difference between having met them in person and not. Meeting in person is more like establishing a friendship, whereas not meeting might just be a business relationship. For instance, some affiliate offers require approval. If you've met and talked with an AM (Affiliate Manager), they are more likely to trust you and give you a chance to try. Otherwise, they might just stick to the rules strictly. I've had a profound experience with this. I once applied to an affiliate network and didn't get approval nor a response; it was like dropping a stone into the sea. Later, through the introduction of another AM friend, I got instant approval. Subsequently, getting offers was very straightforward. Although I hadn't met this AM friend either, he is Chinese and knows me. It was because he had met the AM of that network in person that I could gain the trust of that network.
Although you can chat with an AM (Affiliate Manager) at any time, they might not always have the time to explain everything to you. Meeting in person is different. You can pose many questions, and they will offer solutions from their perspective, addressing your concerns. For problems they can't solve, they might even help you by consulting the internal media buying team of the affiliate network.
During this participation, I discussed many issues I encountered with AMs (Affiliate Managers), and they provided surprisingly effective solutions. These solutions will help me gain new insights, break through bottlenecks, and achieve better profits.
If you are a newcomer just entering the industry, and haven't yet been able to achieve stable profits or make a living in the field of Affiliate Marketing, then you might gain less from this experience.
If you have already survived in this industry and are looking to break through to achieve higher profits, then I strongly recommend that you attend.
In general, I think this conference is very suitable for Affiliates to attend. I plan to attend at least one such event every year, so…
Next year! See you in Bangkok!