The third AMC Affiliate Manager Certification Seminar (ARC Seminar) has come to a close. What a whirlwind three days put on by Andy Rodriquez! I thought I would share my perspectives on the event…. I have been fortunate to present and attend all three of Andy’s ARC Seminars. The ARC Seminar is different from any other industry event out there. The seminar is held to a small number (30 or so) attendees intentionally. And while it is an Affiliate Manager Certification course, there is a growing number of affiliates who are finding benefit from the information presented and attending. It is three full days of fast-paced, practical and intensive information targeted (pun intended) at increasing the profitability (that’s real profitability without the numbers games)Â of affiliate programs. When you step into the ARC Seminar room, you are stepping into a completely spin-free zone for running and managing an affiliate marketing program. The ARC Seminars have always received favorable reviews, but I have to say that ARC III was the best thus far. I saw a maturing of the event that left me feeling excited about what the future holds for ARC. There were a couple of points that struck me right away with the mixture of attendees for ARC III. First was that there was a more diverse mix participants. Attendees included OPMs, affiliate managers, merchants, affiliates, traditional networks, CPA networks and media. The manager/merchant attendees encompassed what is perceived in the industry as traditional retail to lead gen to less traditional retail such as RX. This reflects the diversity within affiliate marketing itself. This lead to some very interesting and informative discussions (particularly after hours) regarding perceptions within the industry, affiliate practices for promotion within different ‘verticals’ and how while we tend to segment different areas in our mind for the players within the industry, the industry functions as a whole and what is happening in one particular ‘segment’ does not impact just that ‘segment’ but the industry as a whole also. The second point that struck me was the level of expertise attendees brought to the Seminar. In an industry somewhat known for people keeping information close to their vests, the overall format of the Seminar facilitated the sharing of in-depth knowledge by participants adding to the overall value of the Seminar. It is refreshing to see such a willingness to share such levels of knowledge unselfishly and honestly. This ARC Seminar featured presentations by three affiliates. The topics addressed were ppc campaign management, maximizing benefits from coupon affiliates and a more general discussion of what affiliates want/need from their merchants. The private feedback I received from the merchants in attendance is that they found these presentations extremely informative. A better understanding of the different perspectives of merchants and affiliates helps to overcome the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality sometimes seen in the industry and thus facilitates more profitable partnerships for everyone. Partnerships being the keyword. The overall feedback I’ve personally received from participants is that they came away with not just one or two bits of useful information, but many new ideas they intend to implement as well as new contacts and feeling of really knowing the person they may be working with in the future. Personally, my own plate is going to be quite full over the next several weeks from this Seminar and I’m not even a merchant or an affiliate. And last but not least, it’s a given that anytime Andy is involved with something you are going to eat and drink well as well as having quite a bit of fun after hours. This event was no exception. It’s a testament to the caliber of information being presented during the sessions when the thought provoking discussion continue into the after hour events. Eight hours (and that’s pretty much eight hours straight) of intensive information seems not to burn people out but rather is a catalyst for absorbing even more insight and information one-on-one. And what great planning for after hours mix of fun and learning. From cocktails at the bar to Chicago style pizza to a Cubs baseball game, we barely had time after the courses ended to change our clothes to start the second half of our day. And let’s not forget the wonderful lunch provided each day. It’s certainly not the expected standard conference food and I’ve taken home the extra pounds to prove it! A huge thanks and kudo to Andy, AJ and Emilo (the AMC staff) for continuing to provide this Seminar for our industry. It’s not easy to put such an event together. And for ARC III a very special thanks to Brian, Carolyn and the rest of the ShareASale staff for all the support and extras they provided as the host city. From assisting in preparations to presenting (Brian gave one heck of a presentation himself) to sponsoring and coordinating the Cubs game outing to footing just a couple bar tabs. Hats off to all that participated and my only complaint is having to wait until 2007 for the next ARC Seminar.