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Meet Me at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas

3 Jan

Meet Me at Affiliate Summit West in Las Vegas

On Saturday I’ll be heading to Las Vegas to attend Affiliate Summit West at Caesar’s Palace. I always look forward to this event, not only to catch up with friends in the online marketing industry, but also to see what people are excited about for the coming year. Because this show butts right up against CES there is always spillover between the consumer electronics and affiliate worlds – a nice convergence indeed.

I will be there representing eBay Partner Network – eBay’s in-house affiliate program. I’ll be there to chat with publishers and capture the vibe for a short video documentary about Affiliate Summit. I’d love the chance to chat with you about your experiences in the online marketing space. What are you excited about this year? What will everyone be talking about at the show?

If you’re going to be at #ASW12, reach out to me by either leaving a comment here or via Twitter (@scottparent). I look forward to catching up on the expo floor or over drinks in Vegas!

A Look Back at BlogWorld Los Angeles

10 Nov

A Look Back at BlogWorld Los Angeles

Last week I attended BlogWorld Los Angeles in my capacity as Evangelist / Community Manager / Blog  Lead at eBay Partner Network. BlogWorld is always one of my favorite events each year because of the swell of creativity and passion that overflows from each attendee. In addition to meeting lots of new people, it’s always great to connect with old friends and reminisce about the old days of podcasting and the infancy of blogging. This year showcased the continuing maturity of the social media and online content space. Brands continue to take notice and choose to be part of the conversations on a very social level.

I put together this video recap as part of the latest season of ePN TV. Take a look:

You can read more about my experience over at the eBay Partner Network Blog.

Yep, Content Still Rules

4 Apr

Yep, Content Still Rules

I love looking back at stuff I’ve written or taped and seeing how my opinions have changed since that period in time. Sometimes I shake my head and wonder what I was thinking. Other times I pat myself on the back that I was right about how something would play out.

Today I was sifting through some social media content on YouTube and I came across this interview I had done with CT Moore at last year’s Affiliate Summit East. He asked me about what I was hearing people talking about as trends at the show and also about Twitter’s foray into advertising.

Looking back at this seven and a half months later I think the concepts still hold up. People are constantly looking at search strategies and how to maximize every dollar spent and Twitter’s foray into advertising and promoted Tweets has served them well so far.

But let’s talk about content for a second. I talk a lot about the value of content on this blog and in CT’s video. I thought it was important almost 8 months ago and I think it’s important now. Whether you’re doing full blown video production or creating interesting snippets on Twitter in 140 characters or less – you’re building and sharing content that has the potential to add value to someone’s online experience. Adding value helps to foster trust and build relationships. That is powerful currency in today’s online world.

I talk to companies all the time that think nothing of spending $40,000 on a corporate website, but won’t invest $5,000 on creating blog content. They’ll send 10 people from their sales team to a tradeshow at a cost of $30,000, but won’t entertain the thought of investing 10% of that amount in building a communication channel like Twitter. It’s short-sighted and these types of companies are going to be left behind.

Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman wrote a great book called, appropriately, “Content Rules” and it’s not only a great read, but it’s also a great hands-on reference guide to crafting great content in areas like social media, ebooks, webinars and podcasts. I highly suggest you pick it up.

What value does your business place on content? How does it rank in priority within your overall marketing mix?

The Value of Content Curation

4 Feb

The Value of Content Curation

When I pitch companies on digital marketing, the questions I get asked a lot are: what is the next big thing? What should we be out in front of online?

My answer? Content Curation.

The web is massive. There are so many places to find information about everything under the sun. Google helps for sure, but even still, wading through all that information can be a daunting task. For example, I am passionate about photography and DSLR gear. Last night I was looking for information on a particular lens so I Googled it. The results were overwhelming. I was given links to reviews, lowest prices, forum links, videos – all of varying quality and knowledge. It took me almost an hour to find exactly what I needed.

Taking that same theme of lenses and DSLRs, let’s take a look at one of my favorite sites, Cinema5D. They don’t create much in the way of original content. Instead, they gather the best stuff from around the web relating to DSLRs and feature it on their website in a reverse chronological blog format. It’s not necessarily a research tool, but it’s where I go daily to get a sense of what’s new and innovative in the world of DSLRs. They also have a great set of forums where members can discuss everything DSLR-related.

There are two strong pillars of the Cinema5D curation model that are important to our discussion. First, Jared Abrams, the face of Cinema5D is seen as a trusted curator. I put more stock in what he says because I’ve seen his track record and the quality of information he provides. Second, their articles and forum threads show up in search often when I’m looking for information on camera equipment. Because I trust the quality of Cinema5D’s work, I’ll almost always click on that result first.

What does this mean for your business?

As digital marketers this model is valuable for a couple of different reasons. There is a tremendous business opportunity here. Let’s take a look at the auto site Bring a Trailer. This site is for enthusiasts looking to purchase hard to find cars. The publisher gathers auto-listings from across the web on eBay, Craigslist and AutoTrader and builds content on his site from that. It’s a one-stop-shop for car geeks looking to purchase vehicles – without having to do all the searching themselves.

I produced this video for eBay Partner Network a few months back that talks specifically about content curation and Bring a Trailer:

Content curation is also a great way to create thought leadership for your company without having to do much actual thought leadership. So many of the companies I work with love the idea of creating a blog, but don’t have the resources in-house to write exclusive content several times per week. Sure, there are content services available, but the quality varies and it costs money.

Let’s look again at Bring a Trailer for a second. Imagine if you were an online auto parts store and were looking to create a relevant industry blog – Bring a Trailer would be the model I would use. The same holds true if I were an online camera store – I’d use Cinema5D as my blog and community model. They are both gathering great content from around the web and presenting it in a trusted way as “their view of the world” – as JJ McCarthy says in the video above. That’s some pretty powerful (and profitable) stuff.

What other examples of content curation have you seen? Have you created a business yourself around this concept? Are you using it to build thought leadership in your field of expertise? I’d love to get your thoughts.

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

11 Jan

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Over the last month I have been battling a major ant problem at my apartment in Santa Barbara. Usually the rainy season drives a few of them indoors so at first I wasn’t too worried. After a several days, “a few” turned into hundreds and I knew I needed to take action. Being the environmentally conscious guy I try be, I looked for green products that would treat my ant situation. I tried something called Orange Guard from Whole Foods. While it killed the ants if you sprayed it directly on them, it did nothing to prevent their swarm from returning. In fact, I felt like they were belittling me and my Orange Guard. I could almost hear their tiny ant laughs as they mocked my environmentally friendly, yet useless, deterrent.

After trying several other tactics that failed equally, I knew I needed to give in to the pest control dark side. Yesterday I sprayed my apartment doorways and other entrance crevices with Raid. Sure, I know it’s a nasty mix of chemicals and all sorts of bad stuff, but I didn’t know what else to try. The ants were infesting my pantry, marching in lines all over my kitchen and bathroom floors and even overtook my messenger bag because it had a bag of half-opened M&Ms in it’s pocket. Something had to be done and you know what? It worked. I have been ant-free for the last 24 hours because of the Raid.

This got me thinking about the ends justifying the means. Sure, Raid wasn’t my first, second or even third choice to deal with my univited houseguests, but in the end it’s the only thing that worked. It got me thinking about marketing and applying that same model. Should you try a marketing tactic that you’re not altogether comfortable with if the end result is a success? How far outside the boundary would you step? What implications could it have on overall brand perception?

Affiliate Marketing immediately comes to mind in this case. So many companies made a fortune in the affiliate space selling products and using marketing tactics that were questionable at best. Yet, these companies made millions of dollars. Did the ends justify the means? Did these affiliate networks act in the best interest of their shareholders? Did they do longterm damage? Can it be undone?

Would you use a questionable marketing strategy if you knew it would result in a short-term financial win?  Have you ever been put in a situation to do so? I’d love to hear your thoughts.