THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO AFFILIATE SUMMIT EAST 2018 – NEW YORK CITY
16 July 2018
New York, New York! This summer, the “city so nice they named it twice” will play host to the conference so nice they… uh… held it twice a year for 15 years straight!
Yes, the longest-running major affiliate conference, Affiliate Summit, is back for yet another edition. Affiliate Summit East 2018 will take over New York City from 29-31 July, and you’d better believe it’s going to be the best yet – the conference has grown massively each year since launching in 2003.
With a killer lineup of speakers and excellent planning, there’s no reason to doubt that this edition will be another great investment of your time and money. Let’s get right to it!
This section is your complete conference primer, specific to the 2018 event. Once finished, you should be able to justify your trip without hesitation and have an action plan for getting full value.
We’ll cover the following:
The story of ASE
Why ASE is worth attending
Special interviews with four of the speakers: Mari Smith, Sandra Matz, Debra Pivko and Geno Prussakov
What you can expect to learn
How to network like a pro (even if it’s your first time)
Plus plenty more. Let’s go to the show!
AFFILIATE SUMMIT EAST 2018: A COMPLETE OVERVIEW
Beginning in 2003, Affiliate Summit has grown from a small gathering of a few early adopters into a full-on, highly respected conference series that welcomes speakers and guests from every corner of the globe.
The conference series has grown to include social events and content, such as FeedFront Magazine – a free resource for affiliates that covers everything from upcoming trends to engaging stories from affiliate industry legends.
All this has generated a loyal, dedicated following with world-class representation from all the top names and brands.
Quick Tip: Get info about the event live on the the official hashtag: #ASE2018
Why you should go
In an industry focused on people and partnerships, these conferences offer more value than a $1 slice of Brooklyn pizza – and them’s fightin’ words.
Whether it’s a lucrative handshake, a mind-blowing tip, hours of insightful content or just getting the chance to meet and have fun with people you usually don’t get to see, there’s value for everyone.
We’re not here to sell you on the benefits of conferences, though. Here’s what ASE offers, straight from the organizers themselves:
An agenda crafted by the Affiliate Summit Advisory Board made up of the biggest stakeholders in the affiliate marketing industry – packed with engaging presentations and panels covering the latest industry trends, analysis, and challenges
Three tradeshow areas packed with affiliates, merchants, vendors, networks, technology providers, digital agencies, and traffic sources
A variety of networking events in relaxed environments that encourage the exchange of open ideas and experiences
Access to online tools providing opportunities to arrange meetings with other attendees and speakers before, during and after the event
Get the full details on the official Affiliate Summit website.
This year brings another excellent lineup of engaged industry thought leaders - more than 60 speakers will give 50+ presentations on a truly comprehensive array of topics. From intensive consumer psychology studies and Big Data applications to the current state of affiliate marketing, social platforms, affiliate program building and more, this is the top spot to learn about what’s coming next in our industry.
We spoke with a few of the speakers at the event to learn a bit more about their topic and what you can expect:
Mari Smith, the “Queen of Facebook”, discusses her extensive relationship with Facebook and how to build strong relationships with influencers.
Sandra Matz brings clarity to critical topics that have captured the attention of our industry in recent months: the ethical use of psychological targeting and personalized marketing.
Debra Pivko gives you an insider’s perspective on the process required to produce winning copy, plus her best tips for affiliates who want to improve their copy.
Geno Prussakov shares his experiences as an affiliate program manager and the reasons he continues coming back to Affiliate Summit (this is his 19th time speaking).
Mari Smith is the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert, and is often referred to as the Queen of Facebook. Facebook hired Mari to teach SMBs throughout the US at the Boost Your Business series of events. She travels the world to speak and train at major events and serves as Brand Ambassador for many leading global companies. Mari is also an expert webinar leader, live webcast host, and author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.
1. With more than 1.7 million followers worldwide, you know your way around social media. What advice do you have for affiliates who are seeking to utilize influencers in their marketing strategies?
Really get to know the influencer well before making any attempt to contact the person. Follow them across all channels, observe the types of posts, cadence, topics, etc. See if you can find how their influencer marketing services work. When you do approach influencers, make it clear you've done your homework. Be brief. Focus on what's in it for the influencer -- how your offer will particularly benefit their audience and how they'll be compensated. Depending on the size of the influencer's platform, they may receive a large volume of offers. You want yours to stand out and get noticed!
Another approach is to simply begin engaging regularly with the influencer. Show up on their live broadcasts and make intelligent, value-adding comments! Engage with their Stories. Put them on See First on Facebook and look for opportunities to converse.
Keep an eye on Facebook's brand new Brand Collab Manager where affiliates may be able to search and find influencers that are a perfect fit for a promotional partnership.
If you have a physical product, be sure to ship a sample to your prospective influencer partners and whatever you do, do not forget to *follow up!* This is probably the #1 mistake I see potential brands and affiliate partners making with their approach. They reach out, then never follow up!
2. You’ve been a very active member of the digital marketing community for nearly 20 years. What’s the most interesting change you’ve noticed in that time?
Undoubtedly the rise of social. We are all living much more transparent lives now - or at least perceived transparency, ha! It's absolutely expected that businesses and marketers are active on the big social channels. In fact, to most audiences out there, it's like you don't exist if your business is not on Facebook and Instagram.
3. Which social media channels are you most focused on (or excited about) right now?
I'm still as passionate about Facebook as I was when I first got on the platform back on May the Fourth, 2007! The evolution of this giant platform is astounding and just as exciting to me for businesses. However, I'm equally passionate about Instagram these days. I've been saying for the past year that "Instagram is Facebook's next Facebook." Indeed, Instagram just celebrated 1 billion monthly active users and now 400 million daily active users on Stories. I also love that Facebook's Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox recently stated that people will consume more content in the Stories format than they do in the news feed format by some time next year.
4. Who is the ideal audience member for your keynote speech at Affiliate Summit East, and what can they expect to learn?
Those with intermediate knowledge of Facebook and Instagram marketing who are eager to learn proven methods + new Ninja ways of promoting offers across these platforms.
5. Do you have any favorite hotspots or hideouts in New York City (that you’re willing to share)?
Ha! I do not. I've only been to NYC a few times. I'm actually having my sister fly down from Ottawa to join me at #ASE18 and we're going to paint the town red together. :)
Learn more about Mari and her work on her official website (or find her at pretty much every major marketing event that involves Facebook).
Sandra Matz is an Assistant Professor of Management at Columbia Business School in New York. As a computational social scientist, she studies human behavior and preferences using a combination of Big Data analytics and traditional experimental methods. By applying scientific theory to customer-centric marketing with a focus on ethical implementation, Sandra offers a timely, valuable perspective to both consumers and businesses.
1. You have a PhD in Psychology from the University of Cambridge, focusing on Big Data and psychological targeting. If an affiliate wants to utilize psychological targeting in their campaigns, where do you suggest they begin? Are there any resources or formulas they can use to refine and improve their targeting?
There are a few different answers to this, but I think there are two main approaches.
The first option is to study academic publications. We’re seeing more and more literature that tries to summarize what we know about personality marketing from a scientific point of view. See my recent HBR article for one example: What Marketers Should Know About Personality Marketing.
You can also learn a lot from looking at companies who already use psychological targeting. Not only do they offer products, but they also explain the concepts behind them.
Two companies who do a great job of that are VisualDNA and DataSine. They cover the scientific side, but they also go into detail about catering to attitudes, human psychology, how they create psychological profiles… this combination of hard facts and practical applications makes the underlying concepts much easier to grasp.
As for tools, that’s where the difficulty comes in. Big companies have consumer data and the resources to build their own prediction models. For smaller companies that don’t have enough data to build their own models for personality predictions, it makes more sense to go with a third party tool. For example, StatSocial uses IBM’s prediction engine - allowing you to leverage massive amounts of data that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Some of this may sound complicated, but it’s actually quite practical. The good thing is that all of us can easily relate to the concept.
It is hard to develop meaningful marketing content from consumer data when it comes in the form of individual traces (e.g. purchases) or several hundreds if not thousands of dimensions. But when this data is translated into a personality profile, things become clear. We can all recognize the difference between “outgoing” and “shy”, or “traditional” and “liberal”. From there, the marketing content almost creates itself.
2. How do you anticipate consumers reacting to increased personalization in marketing messaging?
It depends entirely on how we use it and how we introduce it.
We already know there’s a lot of merit to personalization; it helps people find products they want. If it’s done well, consumers are actually happy with the results of targeting. Think about Google - nobody wants to visit page 2 to find what they are looking for.
Without any type of personalization, we’re actually overwhelmed with options, which undermines our ability to both make good decisions and be happy with the decisions we’ve made. We want some degree of choice yes, but it’s a challenge to choose from over 50k headphones on Amazon. Which means that I either give up after searching for 30 minutes, or I buy them and then later think that I might have found even better ones had I searched for 15 minutes longer.
As such, psychological targeting and personalized marketing aren’t just beneficial for businesses, but for consumers as well.
However, the “what we recommend” is just one aspect of psychological targeting. The second one is “how we communicate”.
For example, if I’m selling headphones, I could describe them differently for each personality that might consider buying them. If I do it right, they’ll be more inclined to buy the headphones, and also feel like they made the right choice.
This second approach is where people often raise the concept of manipulation. I agree to some extent. However, the truth is that we engage in ethical manipulation in an offline context all the time. The problem is that it’s so subtle, so ingrained into our daily interactions, that we don’t even notice it. You don’t talk to your daughter, your father and your boss in the same way - you tailor your messages to their psychographic profiles naturally, and both of you enjoy a better interaction because of it.
We simply don’t have enough information right now to make online interactions as personal as they are offline, but we’re getting there - and that’s where transparency comes in.
For me, transparency in key in everything we do. It’s the biggest takeaway from the Cambridge Analytica story earlier this year. In that situation, everything happened behind people’s backs, which made it extremely difficult for users and the government to detect what was happening.
When companies use personalization, they usually make predictions and then target ads based on those predictions. They know what’s happening, but the people being targeted don’t. So there’s a huge discrepancy in knowledge and lack of transparency here, and I think that’s the issue. Users have no control over the purposes their data is being used for, and when they hear that it’s being used to affect elections behind their back, the whole concept starts to feel more dangerous than beneficial.
The bottom line is that we have a responsibility right now, while the field is still young, to show the value of personalization and prove that it can be done ethically. Any company who uses your data should convince you that your experience will improve as a result, and they should be transparent and flexible with how your data is being used. If we give consumers the opportunity to interact with their data, we also give them a sense of control. It becomes a two-way conversation, which feels a lot more comfortable and actually benefits the company in the long run. Nothing is more valuable these days than a loyal customer.
I think the public perception of psychological targeting is negative right now. And rightfully so, if all people hear are stories like the one of Cambridge Analytica. But if we can show consumers that companies can use personalization transparently and ethically, in a way that actually benefits them, then I think we can change the current perception and show the value it can generate for everybody.
3. Are there any advertising platforms or marketing tools you’re particularly excited about right now?
DataSine is the easiest one - you basically outsource your profiling and creative process.
Facebook Audiences is another interesting one… it requires some work, but you can learn a lot when using it properly. You can connect it with website content and cross it with other interests to create rich profiles of consumer segments. Facebook is basically offering this for free. It requires a bit more work on the company side, but it’s worth it.
4. Who is the ideal audience member for your keynote at Affiliate Summit East, and what can they expect to learn?
Everyone! Really, I think this is interesting to everyone, as it impacts all of us. People who make decisions at companies will definitely benefit from learning about the pitfalls and potential, plus the long-term implications of implementing personalization in an ethical way. But we are all consumers, and we should all care on a personal level.
The main takeaway of my talk is that psychological targeting has massive potential for customers and companies… but we have to get it right. If more stories like Cambridge Analytica will come out, we will ruin this for everybody . Which eventually means denying ourselves the chance to leverage the opportunities it could bring.
What are you most excited to see or do in New York City?
I’m based in New York, and I love the High Line (an elevated park that runs through Manhattan). Amazing architecture, a little outside the main buzz of the city… it’s by far my favorite place.
Debra Pivko, Founder of Intrigue Creative, is an experienced Copywriting Consultant specializing in direct response sales of products and services in the health, nutra, CBD, beauty, and tech space. With almost 20 years of experience, she has written everything from microsites to landing pages to online acquisition banners, to email blast series to paid social and sales content - you name it! She can even help you develop your brand identity and voice. Known for her high conversion rates, she has launched million-dollar money makers for Beachbody, GNC, 310 Nutrition, Dermalogica, Casper, and many more. She's here today to divulge some of the tricks of the trade to make your brand in demand.
1. You’ve been writing direct response copy across a broad range of media for nearly 20 years. What keeps you so passionate and focused on copywriting?
For me, writing incredible copy that converts extremely well is all about connecting with the customer. I love to get inside someone's head and help them make a decision that a product or service is going to make a real difference in their life.
I get really excited about the products and services I work on, gaining such a deep understanding of them that I can teach the customer what it is, why it's better than anything else out there, and why they need it at this point in their life. I have a blast writing attention grabbing headlines and have endless ideas in brainstorms.With a marketing and start up background, I also help companies strategize the copy, not just write it. I'm also passionate about developing the voice for various companies. You don't want to sound like a company, you want to sound like a person talking to another person. In the past decade I developed an intricate voice and brand exercise guide that can be customized for each company.
With a marketing and start up background, I also help companies strategize the copy, not just write it. I'm also passionate about developing the voice for various companies. You don't want to sound like a company, you want to sound like a person talking to another person. In the past decade I developed an intricate voice and brand exercise guide that can be customized for each company.
2. What’s the most valuable tip you can give affiliates who are struggling to produce better copy?
It's not about you. It's about the customer. So many companies want to tout all their benefits, but unless you can do it in a way that helps the customer visualize using it in his or her own life, you're just another advertisement.
Also, people are bombarded with so many ads these days that you don't want to stand out as an ad. How do you do that? You provide content - education or entertainment that draws the customer in.
3. How do you get in the right mindset to produce intriguing copy? Can you share any routines or research methods?
Sure. I study the customer journey very carefully to see where their head would be at, at the time. For example, if I'm writing a landing page that the customer will end up on from an affiliate ad, I study the page the ad will be on and what the angle of the offer is to get into that mindset. Did the ad draw them in to buy this weight loss supplement because it is all natural or because it focused on goals with before and afters or did it promise to give them tips for how to lose weight? I jump into that part of the process and think about what the customer would want to hear and in what order as well as what questions would come up for them so by the time they're finished reading, they are informed, understood, and amped up to make a specific purchase.
4. Who is the ideal audience member for your session at Affiliate Summit East, and what can they expect to learn?
Anyone can attend and learn something valuable. Whether you're the CEO or marketer writing your own copy or you're ready to learn how to take your conversion results to the next level with me writing affiliate ads, landing pages, email blasts, or your microsite for you, swing by, listen in, and chat with me after. I'd be happy to offer anyone that attends a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if I can provide solutions for you.
5.What industries do you specialize in?
I have vast experience in the health, wellness, beauty, and nutraceutical industries as well as technology such as On Demand streaming products. Check out www.intriguecreative.com and my portfolio to learn more!
As an affiliate marketing luminary and thought leader, Geno contributed to successes of multiple brands and even more affiliates. He is the CEO & Founder of AM Navigator, a top affiliate marketing agency, holder of numerous awards, and author of four books which have trained thousands of marketing professionals worldwide.
1. You've spoken at many Affiliate Summit events in the past - this is #19, in fact. What keeps you coming back?
I share my knowledge, experience, and expertise, and in return – take back new connections and leads, and also get a chance to cement my existing relationships within the industry. Affiliate Summit is one of those events that I never miss, attending both of their U.S. events every year for more than ten years straight.
Who is the ideal audience member for your session at Affiliate Summit East, and what can they expect to learn?
My session is intended both for brands, and for affiliates. I would say that, while beginners in the field will definitely learn from it, the content of my "Evergreen Techniques to Rock at Affiliate Marketing" presentation is geared more towards those who have been around the block for some time. I will walk the audience through a number of powerful techniques to reinvigorate how they do affiliate marketing. Every attendee is guaranteed to go home with something new to implement.
Over the years, you’ve established successful affiliate programs for a number of major brands. What’s the most significant challenge you see companies face when setting up an affiliate program?
If I were to pinpoint only one, it would be the build-it-and-they-will-come mentality. Regardless of the size of the brand, this misconception is, unfortunately, way too common. However, as any serious marketing endeavor, every affiliate program must be actively managed. Otherwise, your expectations are doomed to be shattered. Affiliates need to be onboarded, activated, policed for compliance with the program’s rules, communicated with, and constantly developed. It’s teamwork that builds great affiliate programs – teamwork that involves the brand, its affiliate program manager(s), its affiliates, and its technology providers.
Learn more about Geno and his work with affiliate programs at AM Navigator.
These are the people you interact with every day… but this time, it’s live and in-person.
Add more than 5,000 affiliates and business owners to the mix, and you have yourself quite the gathering. That’s why planning ahead is especially important. The bigger the conference, the more opportunities to take advantage of… for both you and your competitors.
In addition to the speakers, the most value in every conference comes from its networking potential.
This is where pre-planning can make a huge difference – and turn the conference from a fun event into a serious money-maker. Most major players will have a way for you to book a meeting online.
You can start by checking out the various Affiliate Summit social profiles:
Quick Tip: Fill up your own calendar before everyone else fills theirs!
The Meet Market is the highlight of the conference for many, especially the exhibitors. Here you’ll catch all the booths and exciting displays from companies, along with running into plenty of fellow affiliates and/or advertisers just browsing the event. It runs for all 3 days of the conference – and that still won’t be enough time to take it all in!
This year’s edition will once again take place at the New York Marriott Marquis, right in the heart of Manhattan.
Stratajet (luxury flight planning): Arrive in style. Hire a private jet.
Hopper (flight planning): Find the best prices on flights. Avoid refreshing pages – get alerts sent when prices drop.
Open Table (restaurant reservations): Get the best table in town with the press of a button. Avoid waits and stay focused on business.
Hotel Tonight (hotel reservations): Book a room in moments. same-day reservations encouraged. Features “hip” and “basic” options.
Google Trips (general travel tips): User-submitted travel advice and recommendations. Great supplement to this guide.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re not interested in staying at the Marriott Marquis, we highly recommend staying somewhere close to the conference – at least during the days that ASE occurs. Getting around New York is straightforward (as we’ll discuss in a moment), but it definitely takes some time – and you don’t want to waste conference time arguing with a cabby or waiting for the subway.
We personally recommend the Dream Downtown Hotel – it’s always treated us well. Our team will be here again this year, so hit us up if you’re in the area. The PH-D Rooftop Lounge is perfect for meetings!
Once the conference is over, we do suggest exploring the city… and for that, AirBnB is a great way to experience life like a local. You can also check out HotelTonight in New York for last-minute deals if you decide to switch it up on the go.
New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but mostly due to high rent costs. Relatively speaking, prices are above average… but on a short visit, they’re not necessarily going to break the bank.
Tipping is absolutely customary in New York, as with the rest of America. If you don’t tip, expect mad stares and bad service.
Tipping less than 15% – even with poor service – will get whispers behind the service counter. If you’re okay with that, nobody can stop you – but you should know that wages in New York for servers are relatively low, and your gratuity makes up for this gap.
Quick Tip: Average tips are between 18-20%. Check the bill for “automatic gratuity” – especially in large groups (most often 6 or more). This means the tip has been added already (you may add more, but it’s usually not necessary).
GETTING AROUND NEW YORK
This is perhaps our best quick tip: wear comfortable walking shoes! The subway doesn’t go everywhere, and even taxis or hired cars may be forced to drop you off a fair distance from your destination.
If you choose walking as your primary mode of transport, you’re almost certain to run into Central Park. We’ve got another quick tip for that – there’s a neat trick that will keep you from getting lost. Check out the old black street lamps. They all have a numbered stamp on the base of them – the first two numbers are the street you’re on. (For example, 8420 means you’re on 84th street.)
In a city so engrossing, with action packed into every street corner, you’ll want to wander… but in order to find the best wandering spots, consider the following transportation choices:
The subway is a source of simultaneous pride and disgust for New Yorkers. It’s the mode of transportation that everyone loves to hate – and in the summer, the heat adds a palpable layer of sweaty, frustrated anger.
The subway lines are referred to by their designated number or letter, not color. It’s not the green line, it’s the “4” or the “A”.
Check out the MTA’s Weekend Planner for special assistance during the off-days.
Quick tip: There’s a saying in New York: “If at first swipe you don’t succeed, try try again. If at second swipe you don’t succeed… get the hell outta my way!” There’s a rhythm to the subway card – you’ll get it, but don’t be ashamed if you have to step aside to allow someone behind you to get through.
Like in most cities, Taxis and Uber are at odds – but the score is actually pretty even if you do the math. A recent study found that taxis are generally cheaper before tip, but more expensive after tipping. The difference is small enough that you should just go with your preference.
It’s kinda like in the movies, but there are some nuances.
Face the direction of traffic.
Raise your arm (like you’ve got a question in class, not like you’re waving at a parade or drowning at sea).
Try to make eye contact with the driver if you can see them.
Wait for a cab to pull over. If you’re wondering why you just got skipped, check the light on the taxi first. If only the middle light is on, it’s available. If the middle and end lights are on, the cab is off duty. If no lights are on, it’s occupied.
When one stops, quickly hop in and tell them your destination. Get in the cab right away – don’t chat with the driver on the side of the road.
Quick Tip: Taxi drivers in NYC are required to take you where you want to go once the meter starts running. It doesn’t make for a pleasant conversation with the cabbie, but you can absolutely get in a cab, tell them you’re going somewhere nearby, then “remember” that you’re going elsewhere once they hit the gas. Classic trick, but don’t tell ’em you heard it from us.
New York is slowly going Amsterdam-style with public transport. Citi Bank sponsors a number of blue bikes all around the city, which you can rent.
You’ll definitely want to do some planning ahead if you go with this option. Some bikes require you to “dock” frequently, which could cause unexpected costs or strange routes to your destination.
If you’re up for it, we (obviously) recommend biking. There’s no better way to see a city.
Quick Tip: When it comes to getting around NYC, you really can’t go wrong as long as you plan ahead. It’s a congested, busy city, and things can move slowly at times – if you keep this in mind, you’ll usually avoid unexpected surprises.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Despite a population that approaches 20 million people – and many TV series that would make you think otherwise – New York maintains the title of safest major city in America.
You can go out alone in most neighbourhoods, even after dark. Crime rates are relatively low.
Despite their reputation, New Yorkers are helpful – and usually even friendly. (Don’t tell ‘em we said that – they act tough.)
The police are very present. Call 911 for emergency assistance.
Information and assistance is easy to find. Simply contact 311 to access the (non-emergency) line for services in New York City.
USEFUL PHONE NUMBERS
Emergencies (police, fire or ambulance): 911
Nyc government agencies and general questions about the city: 311 or 212-new-york (639-9675)
Directory assistance: 411
Quick Tip: The emergency number is 911. Calling it without an emergency can result in fines or even jail time, so don’t call it to test your phone!
TALK LIKE A NEW YORKER
New York is a linguistic kaleidoscope. Each borough has its own way of twalkin’, and then it gets more refined from there depending on neighborhood, ancestry, and which side of the bed you woke up on that morning.
(Just don’t use it all in one sentence. Or ever, honestly. It’s more for reverse-lookup.)
3. The city so nice...
New York is rich with history – it served as the reception hall for America in its infancy, then supercharged the rise of global industry, challenging powerhouses like London and Amsterdam as the top financially minded city in the world.
But that’s not the New York you should get to know. This section will introduce you to the ins and outs that locals love (and lament):
The attractions that are actually worth it
Great spots to eat (and hold meetings)
Superb nightlife and comedy clubs
The best pizza slice in town (just kidding – that’s impossible to say, but we’ll try anyway)
There are a TON of tourist attractions in the Big Apple. (Ironically, one of them is not an oversized apple – business opportunity?!)
Below, we’ll break down the big ones, along with whether or not locals consider it worth your time. To generate the list, we scoured discussion forums, asked friends and dug deep into complaints (and compliments).
Our judgment may not match yours, so we always suggest doing some personal research if you want to ensure a purely positive experience. (That said, disappointment and frustration can be seen as an important aspect of the New York City experience!)
Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island: This one-two punch of NYC history is rich with info about how the legendary city went from a little rock to the Big Apple. Check the official Twitter to make sure it’s fully open.
Top of the Rock: Everywhere we looked considered this the significantly better alternative to the Empire State Building – great view, short lines and nice attractions nearby. The best part? You can look at the Empire State Building, which is a beautiful part of the skyline.
Central Park:Whether you’re using “New York City’s backyard” to shortcut across Manhattan or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Central Park is stunning. It’s huge and spans the majority of the city, so take a look at the access points and attractions within to plan your optimal route.
Scenic path around Manhattan: This one is completely free and is great for those who like to get a jog in, especially early in the morning. Just head to the riverside and you’ll find it. Consider grabbing a CitiBike and giving it the whole tour!
Helicopter Tour of NYC: You’ve seen it in the movies – why not live the experience yourself? Rooftop bars offer great views, but if you fancy a breathtaking 360-degree perspective on the Empire City, then there’s only one option: take to the skies. HeliNY offers tour packages that range from “spendy, but worth it” to “blowout VIP excitement” – check them out and book your cloud adventure in advance.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met): This is one of the most important museums in the world, featuring incredible art from antiquity and beyond – it’s the biggest in the USA, in fact. Skip the crazy crowd on its famous steps by using the hidden side entrance to the left.
Free events around the city: There are plenty of fun events scheduled around the city, all throughout the year. We’ve heard good things about:
Empire State Building: The general consensus among locals and visitors alike is that the Empire State Building is past its prime (it’s all corpo-touristy-sellout now). Plus, when you’re in it… you can’t see it. Visit the Top of the Rock instead for a better view, shorter lines and an overall more enjoyable experience.
Madison Avenue: Sadly, its days as the advertising capital of the world have withered, and only a few true ad agencies remain here.
Anything in Times Square: The famous center of Manhattan is definitely worth a look – or maybe just a passing glance – but it’s Overcrowded, Obnoxious, Overpriced and Hated by locals. Not quite the “OOOH!” you’re hoping for. Take a stroll through, but skip making plans there.
Built on years of diverse immigrant history, New York City’s food scene has grown into a melting pot of exotic flavors, famous dives and, yes, a ridiculously competitive pizza scene. New Yorkers love their secret spots, and they’re usually unwilling to share… unless they don’t think anyone is listening.
As much as they “don’t want anyone else to ruin them with their presence”… they also can’t seem to keep their mouths shut about their hidden gems and go-to joints.
So forget flashy paid placements in outdated top ten lists – we’ve compiled this list from hushed whispers and truly happy stomachs…
Katz’s Deli: This notorious deli is intimidatingly basic and may well be the crankiest piece of New York history. It turns 130 next year, and it’s likely that the recipes haven’t changed since their 1888 opening.
Tom’s Restaurant: If you’re a Seinfeld fan, this one will catch your eye – but only from the outside. This famous restaurant was the source for external shots of the fictional Monk’s Cafe, but that’s not all it’s famous for. A song was written about it in the 80s, and it’s still kicking today – likely due to diligent adherence to their motto: Make it Nice!
Little Italy: This Italian section of the city features a whole host of restaurants, delis and gelato shops, topped off with an atmosphere that can become circus-like at times. The debate rages among locals as to its authenticity, but there’s no question that you’ll find a lot of classic options here – including the one spot both Shawn and Missy had to mention (Angelo’s on Mulberry).
Restaurant Row: As we mentioned, you should especially avoid eating at the restaurants in the vicinity of Times Square. Some of the best food in the city can be found just a few blocks away (map) at Restaurant Row, which features shorter wait times, arguably better food and more reasonable prices.
Fried Dumpling: BE CAREFUL! At Fried Dumpling, you can get 5 dumplings for a dollar. That doesn’t mean you should. They’re addictive. Five quickly leads to ten… and twenty… and… well, we warned you. The location is a good jumping-off point, too. You’ll find plenty of authentic oriental food on Mosco Street in Chinatown.
Mark Burger: Excellent sliders and classic milkshakes. A solid choice for a powerful lunch – get two sliders, fries and a soda for $8. Mark our words: it’s a burger experience you and your gut won’t soon forget.
Burger Joint: This unassuming, outstanding small chain has out-of-this-world burgers at great prices. Get the full burger joint experience at any of their three aptly named locations: one near Central Park, one in Greenwich Village and another tucked away in Brooklyn.
Dirty Pierre: This place doesn’t take reservations, and that may have a double meaning – many who pass by don’t even know it’s a restaurant, and you’ll have to enter with an open mind. Dirty Pierre’s offers charm and flavor that goes beyond the food. Check out the Chupacabra story and ask them what the heck “it is what it is” means.
Cheeky Sandwiches: This Lower East Side sandwich bar serves some seriously sumptuous chicken sandwiches – at least, according to foolish locals who’ve given them up as a prime spot.
Taqueria Coatzingo: This “gringo-friendly” taco spot is a bit off the main road (in Elmhurst, far from Manhattan), but their fresh ingredients and classic preparations make them a favorite… and worth the trip (in NYC, that’s saying a lot).
Pommes Frites: Next to Artichoke Pizza, this unassuming Belgian-style potato palace simply gets it right. We may be biased as neighbors to Belgium, but there’s something about authentic full fries that just blasts the deceptively skinny oil-bombs at McDonald’s out of the fryer. Hint: the mango chutney sauce is an exceptional straying from authenticity, and we’ll forgive you for giving it a go.
THE BEST PIZZA IN NYC
We shouldn’t even try to do this. We were already wrong before we added the first name to the list. But here it goes… in no particular order, these are the pizza parlors and pie pubs* that earned high marks on every list and forum we could find:
* (nobody calls them that)
Di Fara: One man. One mission. One amazing pizza… again and again and again. Yup, a dude (named Di Fara – duh) has made nearly every pizza, every day, by himself… since 1964. Impressive on its own… but wait until you try the pie. It’s far away and often has a long wait, but it’s 100% worth it – a once-in-a-lifetime pizza experience.
Joe’s Pizza: Similar to Di Fara, Joe Pozzuoli has run this shop since it opened in 1975. It’s considered a “Greenwich Village institution” and serves the classic New York slice as you expect it – overloaded with melting, gooey cheese piled on top of rich tomato sauce, resting on a handmade, crispy-chewy crust. (We apologize if it’s not yet lunchtime for you.)
Lucali: This legendary name is both a hit on the major lists and oft-whispered in local circles, such that the deceptive spot clearly has no need for a strong online presence. The word-of-mouth situation is strong with this one, and that means the pizza-in-mouth situation is heavenly.
Royal Pizza: According to an insider, these are the “best Sicilian pizza slices, but they aren’t on display – you have to know about them and ask.” We aren’t cool enough to try, but let us know if you make it over there. Not far from the conference venue.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza: With its main location next to Pommes Frites, this is a great spot for a one-two-three combo of pommes frites, pizza and passing out. Unassuming and occasionally unorthodox, you’ll find a sweet selection of slices. Hint: they deliver slices!
Speedy Romeo’s: St. Louis-style pizza, imported without a pittance of perfection lost in the transfer. Try the lox pizza for brunch, or get your Katz’s fix with their pastrami slice. (You probably don’t recognize it from Girls, but it was on that show.)
Prince St. Pizza: “Don’t be a square” is normally good advice, if a bit dated… but throw it right out the door when you hit up Prince St. Pizza. This spot was here long before square slices became trendy, which is, like, totally a New York thing to do.
Quick Tip: There’s no consensus on the best slice in NYC, but there is an abundance of choice. Luckily, you can’t go wrong when it comes to NY pizza – so don’t be afraid to try that hole-in-the-wall looking spot around the corner from your hotel. They might be serving melted gold.
New York city is famous for another delectable treat: bagels! They’re everywhere, and they’re almost all on the same level: perfect. Is it the water? The yeast? The craft? Don’t ask questions. Just get the lox and love it.
NIGHTLIFE / ENTERTAINMENT
New York City has a thriving nightlife, with a full spectrum of activities that range from hipster poetry readings at coffee shops to hip Manhattan clubs. It depends on what you’re interested in, but the city surely has no shortage of engaging events and activities to partake in.
PHD at Dream: This trendy rooftop lounge offers panoramic views of the city and is conveniently located atop the Dream Downtown hotel. It’s an upscale experience that makes for great partying or even a loosened-up business meeting.
STK Rooftop: This chic lounge with a steakhouse twist offers a full menu within a nightclub atmosphere. Happy Hour is from Monday-Friday from 6pm-8pm and comes highly recommended to those who enjoy a bite with their bitters.
Gansevoort Park Rooftop: At twenty stories tall, this lounge overlooks the Empire State Building and all that the Manhattan skyline has to offer. The clientele mix stunning views with expert mixology in a typical-noncommittal “dressy casual” environment.
High line Hotel: Lower to the ground, this hotel bar opens up after coffee time closes, inviting patrons to a cozy patio for seasonal cocktails, beer and wine. Good choice if you’re seeking a “best-kept-secret” vibe.
230 FIFTH: Another rooftop stunner, 230 FIFTH delivers enchanting views from the comfort of large umbrellas (to protect from sun and rain) and heating during colder days, making it an all-year winner. It’s the largest rooftop garden in NYC.
Apotheke: Apotheke is a fan favorite for those looking to take in NYC’s notorious cocktail scene. Its focus on masterful mixology and pharmacy vibe are reminiscent of old-school speakeasies, but expect a large crowd on busy nights – it’s no secret any more. Available to book for private events.
High Line Hotel || Image Source: http://www.jharchitecture.ie/2011/12/10/the-high-line-nyc/
New York City has watched (and certainly heckled) as many famous comedians came to form, including Chris Rock, Louis C.K., H. Jon Benjamin and many, many more. You may just catch the next rising star at one of the many comedy clubs – below is a starting point.
The coolest part? Your little night out to a local comedian may end up being the setting for a secret show from a superstar. Many famous comedians pick their favorite NYC haunts to test new material and generally muck around.
If you give it a shot, you’ll discover that NYC is rivaled only by LA and Chicago when it comes to (American) comedy.
Greenwich Village Comedy Club: This tiny little basement space hides beneath an Indian Restaurant and hosts cast members from Saturday Night Live. It’s near the Comedy Cellar, another excellent choice that sees even bigger names grace its marquee.
Stand Up NY: A classic Upper West Side hideout, this place has seen the likes of Robin Williams, Jon Stewart and Jerry Seinfeld grace its presence. The schedule is released two weeks in advance.
Broadway Comedy Club: This is one of NYC’s biggest clubs, and draws big crowds for above-the-amateur-level comics. It’s near Times Square, but we’ll forgive you for going to this one.
Caroline’s on Broadway: This piece of history is among the oldest clubs in the city. It’s also on Times Square, and again, you’ll get a pass on this one – it’s where you can catch some of the biggest names without having to gamble for an impromptu appearance.
ADDITIONAL NIGHTLIFE TIPS
Find out what’s happening during the conference period by checking this schedule a week or two before arriving.
Skipping the cocktails, but can’t stand coffee? Try KavaSutra, a kava bar that serves up a funky traditional Western Pacific drink.
New York City is home to a staggering range of unique, interesting people – including many who don’t live there any more (or never did). This sense of inclusion, despite some basic differences, makes it the perfect setting for a conference like Affiliate Summit East. As our industry grows, we get more opportunities to welcome new people… and that means more opportunities for partnerships and growth as a whole.
Whether you’re in it for the massive Meet Market or the back-street bodega bagels, the pace and life that power New York City will surely impress you. We look forward to seeing you there!