Affiliate Summit – Difference Makers by Doing

27 01 2007

I just got back from Affiliate Summit a couple of days ago. It was a very worthwhile experience, put on by industry veterans Shawn Collins and Missy Ward. I met with lots of great people, old and new, and got fresh perspectives.

Affiliate marketing has often times been relegated to the least sophisticated forms of Internet Marketing. I’ve always found it to be the most progressive of advertising models – it wholeheartedly embraces the partnership and the win-win-win for merchants, affiliates and customers. This go around was different – it’s finally fully understood that affiliates that understand how to outperform with sophisticated testing, tracking, analysis and readjustment are the ones that win. It’s really just about building web-based businesses on a performance-basis. For those who have really graduated, affiliate marketing is just one pillar of a solid online business.

What’s great about affiliates is that they’re doers. They are the epitome of success by dogged persistence. They’ve started from nothing and now it looks like many top affiliates are laughing all the way to the bank.

In reality, they’re not any different from any other web entrepreneur. The scale is different: affiliates relish the ability to decide their own fate, from a one-man operation to building out a team to growing into a big business.

Finally, conferences are always a two-sided coin. On the one side, it’s a schmooze-fest that doesn’t carry much tangible benefit. Affiliate Summit does by design put emphasis on real networking, since affiliate marketing is nothing more than forming partnerships and nourishing them.

However, there’s always a few nuggets of wisdom that, if capitalized upon, can be the difference maker in a business. From the education perspective, this is where the value lies. But it’s easy to forget once you get back to the day-to-day grind. It’s key to take those nuggets and turn them into real difference makers for your business. In essence, be a thinker, but then become a doer.

The wheel’s already in motion for iLetYou to capitalize on some of these lessons and, in the process, I think it will be making even more money for more people (and in turn benefiting our business) in the very near future.

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There is No Money in Online Movie Downloads

19 01 2007

OK, maybe the headline should rather be There is No (BIG) Money in Online Movie Downloads.

I’ve watched with rapt attention as there have been some rather big announcements as NetFlix introduced its WatchNow feature. TechCrunch thinks it’s a great move and sings its praises as competition to the current IPTV players. GigaOM illustrates the delusions of grandeur that the announcement conjures are not founded in the least. Its gotten quite its share of media play in the past few days.

Kudos for an impressive if not partially clunky offering that is free with subscription not withstanding, there are some major problems with the business model of online movie downloads. My apologies if some of these are repetitive to you:

  1. Movie studios do not have a major impetus or incentive to move significantly and swiftly to digital downloads. The DVD business is a lucrative business that has really changed the dynamics of the movie business. Movie piracy is a different beast than music piracy if only for the sheer size of the download. You can’t make a direct comparison between the two. Downloaded MS Office lately? The revolution has happened with open source software and web-based software, not huge multi-CD, multi-file downloads. Whether it’s a digital downloads for purchase or rent, you still face the studios’ resistance to a model with lower payoffs to them.
  2. Consumers are not willing to pay $15 to $20 to download a movie. Couple this with fact #1 and you’ve got a major problem. Michael Greeson points out that “less than 13% of consumers would respond positively to such an offering” based on field research.
  3. DRM. Complicated DRM schemes are just a mess that further lowers the implied value of a movie download.
  4. Competition between Apple, Amazon.com, NetFlix, Movielink, CinemaNow, cable providers, YouTube and more. Competition will cause pricing pressure on these providers. The studios will ultimately pocket more, but they’re ultimately going to be resistant for reason #1. Just like iTunes is reliant on iPod to produce profits for Apple, these movie providers will find their profits elsewhere – for Apple, they just need to sell more iPods/iPhones/AppleTVs. So far, there is no Purple Cow in this group of providers.

Who wins? Well, independent producers win, but we already know this with the phenomenal success of YouTube. I think whoever can produce a great VOD product can eke out wins, most likely this is on the cable companies. Consumers do win – they get more choices on how they want to get their content.

There’s a natural order that will sort these things out and eventually things will settle on a model that works. But it will take longer than expected and many will get burned (as GigaOM also points out).

Style, panache and service produces the value-add, the marketing punch and ultimately profits. It’s why classy independent video stores can survive and win and, honestly, it’s what we think can make iLetYou a destination site for movies with a dash of personality. There’s no profit in bits – whether those bits are delivered digitally or on disc.

What are your thoughts on online movie downloads?





iPhone – Age of Proprietary vs. Open Standards Redux?

10 01 2007

By now, you’ve gotten your favorite blog or publication version of the new iPhone announcement, nothing less than a behemoth of an announcement in the consumer electronics and cellular phone industry.

TechCrunch has a write up. GigaOM calls it the end of the PC era. Time Magazine has a nice write-up about Apple’s legendary design and announcement process.

It’s undoubtedly cool – a dream cell phone with things you can imagine (sortable text messages and graphically based voicemails) but only Apple can pull off.

My first question is regarding price and device overload: I’m currently a Verizon Wireless customer. I’ve done Sprint PCS and T-Mobile int he past. Does this now mean that I have to either pay a termination fee, wait until my contract expires or the device goes to other carries? Once the iPhone goes to different carriers, this surely becomes a moot point, although I’d be somewhat scared (maybe unjustifiably so) that Apple got a sweetheart deal with Cingular to be the exclusive carrier.

I think the second and more important question is whether this signals the age of proprietary versus open standards. Especially in cell phones as illustrated in the above example, you’re limited to certain handsets and even features based on what carrier choose and even what country you live in.

In the Windows versus Macintosh age, the fact that Windows was more open allowed it to ultimately win the operating system war.

In the cell phone age, a major problem is that cell carriers have been the bottleneck in blowing out the cell phone’s full potential. Burgeoning industries’ slow growth are largely due to the friction due to extensive carrier relations necessary to access a cell carrier’s platform, possibly stifling innovation.

Wi-fi technologies seems to have the best chance to break this cycle. Open source has had an incredible impact on what’s now possible. Instead of innovation coming from the select big corporations, anyone with a computer can create and make a substantial impact. I think you’ll only continue to see the benefits that the open source and open standards revolution will have on computing, software and electronics into the future.

Will there be a rebellion against proprietary standards? Once it’s possible to have an open telephony platform, can Apple persist to dominate with near absolute market share everything when there’s a cheaper, more open and more innovative platform around?

I love Apple, but anything that forces me into a multiple device purchase makes me queasy: iPod, iPhone, iLife, iMovie, iTV, iMac – where does it end?

I think that this possibly heralds the Age of Proprietary vs. Open Standards… again.