The annual Commission Junction University (CJU 2009) took place on September 15-17, 2009 at the Fess Parker Hotel in Santa Barabara.
Given the fact that the event started 2 days after the Affiliate Marketers Give Back walk, I figured that I'd stay in Los Angeles the extra night and experience what I've always heard was the most beautiful drive along Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara.
Shawn Collins agreed to drive with me and we booked a beautiful covertible to enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, after an Enterprise Rent-a-Car debacle (which included a broken convertible top and an extra ride back to Long Beach to swap out cars), we did the drive in what we now affectionately call, the Ford Ugly. (Note: Some nice Californian should have told us that we shouldn't have gotten on PCH way after Los Angeles airport as instead of incredible shoreline views, all we got to see was strip malls, apartments and more strip malls for over an hour into the drive.)
Shawn and I arrived extremely late, but in enough time to check-in, pick up our credentials and head over to the Dell Welcome Reception at Godric Grove, which was a lot of fun.
After that, we boarded the bus for the 3rd Annual Yahoo! Bowling Invitational. I hadn't bowled in years, so I was very happy that they put up the gutter bumpers. Unfortunately, my blisters from the 40-mile breast cancer walk from the past weekend, did not like the bowling shoes. After a couple of popped blisters and a lousy score of 84, I decided that it was in my best interest to call it quits.
Day 2 started out with they keynote session featuring Jakie Huba who is the co-author of “Citizen Marketers: When People are the Message,” which documents the emerging world of social media and how brands should begin to embrace a participatory culture with customers and fans. Kerri Pollard, General Manager of Commission Junction followed with a State of CJ Session which was extremely informative.
After lunch, I attended the Navigating the Internet Advertising Tax session in which Shawn Collins (Affiliate Summit), Brook Schaaf (Schaaf Consulting), David Lewis (Cashbaq) and Jonathan Johnson (Overstock) discussed the threat upon the affiliate community and what affiliate marketers can do to help fight it.
After the sessions, Shawn and I manned our table at CJUConnect which allowed us to meet some great advertisers that are all looking for ways to generate more sales.
The evening wrapped up with a party at Tonic Bar & Lounge, sponsored by Buy.com.
Day 3 came way too early for me, but thankfully there was a Bloody Mary Bar, sponsored by AffiliateReporting.com to get me going 🙂 After the sessions, Shawn and I met up with a few of our long-time affiliate marketing friends and had lunch at Moby Dick's on the pier. (Food was awful, but conversation was great.)
As it was the first time that I've attended CJU I wasn't sure what to expect, but can now say that it was a terrific event, filled with a lot of great information and wonderful networking opportunities. I look forward to next year!