Affiliate Summit was founded by Missy Ward and Shawn Collins in 2003 for the purpose of providing educational sessions on the latest industry issues and fostering a productive networking environment for affiliate marketers.
Jump down to the history of Affiliate Summit.
Attendees at Affiliate Summit events break out into five main categories: agencies, affiliates, merchants, networks, and vendors.
As you can see, affiliates account for about a third of attendees at Affiliate Summit.
Affiliate marketers fall into two categories, and here is how they broke out at Affiliate Summit West 2013 as far as sales of products or services affiliate marketers vs. lead generation affiliate marketers.
The attendance at Affiliate Summit has grown steadily since the inception of the conference for each location.
Below are charts that break out the registration growth by Affiliate Summit location:
Affiliate Summit West Attendees by Year
Affiliate Summit Niche Attendees by Year
Just ten years ago, when people thought about affiliate marketing conferences, it was generally a negative connotation. At the time, the reigning conference was Affiliate Force, an annual cruise around the Caribbean.
Shawn Collins and Missy Ward helped to coordinate those conferences, but they thought there were ways it could be done better. To make a long story short, Shawn and Missy offered their opinions and were dismissed. So they decided to create an alternative shortly after the April 2003 edition of Affiliate Force.
The first Affiliate Summit took place in November 2003 in New York City. The goal was to differentiate from other conferences by focusing on content and networking. The first Affiliate Summit introduced Speed Networking, as well as an agenda heavy on the hot issues of the day in affiliate marketing.
The first Affiliate Summit had 200 attendees, and it grew by about 15% for the next show in June 2004. Though skeptical of the cruise ship as a conference venue, they gave it a shot with their approach.
The cruise conference was a sell-out, but the venue was not scalable, so they went on land after that one. After two somewhat basic shows with a single educational track, they evolved to have two tracks and an exhibit hall in June 2005 in Las Vegas.
This time around, Shawn and Missy grew the attendance from 230 on the boat to a crowd of 550.
Following the momentum of the first Vegas show, the pair ran another one in January 2006, where the crowd doubled again. As Affiliate Summit was growing, Shawn and Missy remained the faces of the show and always encouraged feedback. With each successive conference, they tweaked elements to improve them even more.
As they led up to the July 2006 show in Orlando, they incorporated various value-adds, such as a social network and free video of the educational sessions to conference attendees. The Affiliate Summit 2006 East conference also featured the biggest crowd and exhibit hall to date, as well as the introduction of the Meet Market.
In January 2007, Affiliate Summit returned to Las Vegas and surpassed the 2,000 attendee mark, as well as another increase in the size of the exhibit hall. This conference also marked the first time Affiliate Summit held an industry awards show.
Then in July 2007, Affiliate Summit took place in Miami, and this edition of the conference was the largest U.S. east coast Affiliate Summit to date.
Next up was the eighth overall and first international Affiliate Summit in London in September 2007, followed by a return to Las Vegas in a big way – over 2,900 attendees.
In the summer of 2008, FeedFront magazine, the official magazine of Affiliate Summit, was launched.
We headed to Boston on August 10-12, 2008 for another record-breaking east coast show that had 2,341 attendees, and we launched our first in a series of one day niche events in New York City on October 5, 2008, where we limited attendees to 300.
And Affiliate Summit continued the trend of growth in 2009 in both Las Vegas and New York City, despite the recession and overall fragile economic climate.
Then in January 2010, Affiliate Summit hit a new high for attendee numbers with 4,125.
Affiliate Summit East returned to New York City in August 2010 and this conference marked the biggest Affiliate Summit East with 3,527 attendees.
In September 2010, the first Affiliate Summit unConference took place in Orlando with a capacity crowd of 150.
This was followed by Affiliate Summit West 2011 in January 2011 at the Wynn Las Vegas. Once again, a new record crowd attended with 4,627 affiliate marketers at the conference.
As the economy has continued to struggle and unemployment has increased, Affiliate Summit East 2011 in August 2011 in New York City marked another record for Affiliate Summit East with 3,943 attendees.
Affiliate Summit hit a big landmark at Affiliate Summit West 2012, which took place in January 2012 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. For the first time, Affiliate Summit had more than 5,000 attendees.
In May 2012, Affiliate Summit tested out the central U.S. with Affiliate Summit Central in Austin, TX. This was a sort of test conference that was limited to 500 people, and a couple dozen exhibitors to play around with different ideas and concepts.
After collecting feedback from this conference, many of the new things tried were implemented at the larger conferences.
Affiliate Summit East 2012 in August 2012 in New York City was another record for Affiliate Summit East with 4,279 attendees.
The growth trend continued with Affiliate Summit West 2013 in Las Vegas with a record 5,275 attendees.
On March 12, 2013, Affiliate Summit held the inaugural Performance Marketing Summit, where there was no Meet Market or exhibit hall. Only a single room with a track of 18 minute sessions for a maximum of 200 people.
This event was held at Baruch College in New York City, the site of the very first Affiliate Summit.
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