This year I was fortunate enough to attend both PubCon 2010 in Las Vegas and Affiliate Summit East 2011 in New York. I’d like to talk about how they compare for those considering either of these events in the future.
PubCon is a huge conference held in the Las Vegas Convention Center. They have a lot of sessions (100-ish) covering SEO, SEM, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and the like. I actually struggled to pick which sessions to attend because inevitably there would be 2 or more sessions going on at the same time that I wanted to attend. Also, because there are so many more people at PubCon sometimes the rooms get full so people actually run from one session to the next to get a good seat. They don’t allow much time between the sessions but they do a good job at providing power strips for laptops at many of the tables.. You’ll also see industry heavy-hitters at PubCon like Matt Cutts, David Pogue, and others.
Affiliate Summit is a smaller event, there are three sessions going on at once and about 40 in total, mostly about Affiliate Marketing though I did attend a few good SEO sessions while here. One thing I noticed is that the Affiliate Summit sessions are a bit higher level, less beginner content compared to what you’ll hear at PubCon. Also, the sessions are spread out over the day with bigger gaps between them so you don’t have to rush however there are no power strips for laptops at the tables.
Winner: PubCon – the volume of choices is nice even though some of the content may be low-level
PubCon is not in a hotel but it’s ‘near’ a hotel but you can’t really walk to it so they have shuttles, which is a pain because at the end of the day everyone wants to take the shuttle back to the hotel at the same time so there were HUGE lines waiting to get back. Also, it was freezing cold and I did not fly out to Las Vegas thinking I would need a winter coat so I had none. On a positive note, the shuttle is yet another chance to do some networking. A few of my most memorable connections were made on the shuttle.
Affiliate Summit, on the other hand, is held inside the Hilton so if you stay in the Hilton you don’t have to even go outside to get to the sessions.
Winner: Affiliate Summit – no shuttles
PubCon gives you these tickets that are like money and you have choices of vendors to buy food from. The lines were long and some of the vendors were poorly prepared for the rush. It was basically a disaster.
Affiliate Summit hands out meal tickets, you hand them the ticket when you walk in. I never saw a line but I got to lunch kinda late. Hilton caters the lunch and provided a nice assortment of healthy food that was actually really good. Although the deserts were just okay for me dog.
Winner: Affiliate Summit – no lunch lines & better food choices
PubCon typically hosts the big names in the industry. It’s common to see folks from Amazon, eBay and just about any other big web presence you can think of. It’s a professional environment and exciting to share ideas with these folks. That said, it’s a slightly older audience hosting people who are later in their careers.
At Affiliate Summit the crowd is younger. You’ll see folks in their clubbing outfits, fresh out of college – some look like they just got out of high school. Not as many heavy hitters but certainly a good collection of talent. Also, if you’re a single guy there are a LOT more beautiful women at Affiliate Summit.
Winner: TIE Affiliate Summit (if you’re single) PubCon if you want to be star-struck
With that said you really can’t go wrong with either of these events, depending on what industry you’re in. Enjoy!