To coincide with my own speaking event at the Search Engine Strategies Chicago conference on Dec 9th, I interview Shawn Collins, co-founder of the Affiliate Summit, the leading industry conference for affiliate marketing, author of Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants, and publisher of the Affiliate Tip blog.

shawn-collinsShawn happens to be an avid video marketer with his own YouTube channel, and says that now is the time for affiliate to “really jump in and start working with video, they’ll really never understand the dynamics” until they “just jump in and do it!”

What benefits/opportunities do you see that online video provides for affiliate marketing?

I think the biggest opportunity is that video expands the real estate for affiliates – it’s a vast media segment that hasn’t been tapped much for monetization so far, so early movers have a lot to gain. Affiliate marketers today I need to just jump in and start working with video. Otherwise, they’ll never really understand the dynamics.

How did you get started in online video?

Back in late 2006, I decided I wanted to learn how to edit video, so I forced myself. (You can watch it below.) When I wrote the copy for my business Christmas cards, I included a note for people to go to a link to see a special video message. That gave me about a week to figure out video and get a video posted to put on that page. I ended up purchasing Sony Vegas video editing software for the PC and having a completed video inside of a couple hours – just from looking at a couple tutorials. Also, whenever I’ve gotten stuck, I’ve found that there are tons of videos on YouTube on how to do things with video editing software.

How are you seeing online video being utilized in affiliate marketing today?

There are a number of third-party companies providing affiliates with methods to monetize video, such as YouTube, AffiliatePLY and Also, affiliate networks are increasingly offering video to affiliates, such as ShareASale and their Make-A-Video tool.

I was working on a site,, for a while with my business partner, where we would review products and post the videos to a number of sites. (Below is an example of our Macbook review.) Early on, we would point the traffic from the video descriptions to our site (where the video content was transcribed and affiliate links were added into the content), but later we started incorporating redirected affiliate links in the videos.

What mistakes have you seen merchants and affiliate marketers make with online video?

I’ve seen some companies just post their TV commercials – where there are calls to action that go around the affiliates, and they expect affiliates to use these video spots. I think video from merchants should be unique to the Web.

As far as affiliates, some using video fail for the same reason any other affiliates fail – they do nothing but post the content of others. It’s essential to create original content, both in video and text, in order to get and retain an audience.

What challenges may affiliate marketers have with online video?

Producing and editing their own video is intimidating; and again, using pre-produced video from affiliate networks and vendors – that can really get stale.

Are there any major legal issues today around affiliate marketing with video?

Violation of copyrights and trademarks is the biggest issue I see with affiliates and video. I think the best and safest route for affiliates is to create their own videos with all original material, and they should pay for the rights for any stock video and music.

What do you think the consequences could be for both merchants and affiliates who don’t update their work agreement to include terms for online video usage?

Affiliate agreements vary, so many may well already cover issues around using third-party material without permission. But I think it would be helpful for merchants to provide guidance around usage of brand names in video titles, tags, and descriptions.

What do you see as the future of online video in affiliate marketing?

I think it’s barely been touched to date, so there is still a lot of evolution in store. Currently, there are solutions that depend on users clicking the video, and I think the consumer just isn’t doing that; so affiliates have to figure out ways to use video in ways consumers want to use it, rather than attempting to change the way consumers already use it.

Tell us about the video content on the Affiliate Summit website

We have been filming all of our conference sessions since 2006. These are made available to attendees with certain passes after the conferences, and then we’re making them public later on (I just publicly posted all of our session videos from January 2007). We have live-streamed the keynotes for the past two conferences, and the keynote videos are all publicly available. We post those to, since the length is far too long for YouTube; but we also use YouTube to share excerpts, post recaps from previous shows, and communicate news. Additionally, I regularly post videos where I answer questions about affiliate marketing on YouTube and other video sites, and each one has an Affiliate Summit bug in the bottom left.

As far as how it’s working out… we wouldn’t still be doing it if we weren’t happy with the ROI. ;)

Do you have any advice to share for people looking to utilize online video for their own affiliate marketing?

Just jump in and do it. Many people think they have to be perfect, but we are not news broadcasters. I do all of my videos in one take – if the dog barks or the phone rings, I just roll with it.

What’s a good example of an affiliate marketer successful with video?

The guys at DeaLoco – they = started doing video to promote their affiliate coupon site, and after just 3 weeks of doing weekly videos, they got the attention of their local NBC affiliate and got TV coverage: