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Handicapping the 2011 Pinnacle Awards

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Last year I handicapped the 2010 Pinnacle Awards and only got two picks right. Maybe I can improve on that this year.

The Pinnacle Awards are given out by Affiliate Summit and recognize the best and brightest in the affiliate industry. There are 6 different categories and they accept nominations from the public and then the Advisory Board votes on the winners. For some history of the awards you can check out the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards History that covers everything from 2006-2009.

In 2010 the winners were:

Affiliate of the Year: Nicholas Koscianski (Nickycakes)
Affiliate Manager of the Year: Matt McWilliams
Exceptional Merchant: eBay Partner Network
Affiliate Marketing Advocate: Angel Djambazov
Best Blogger: Jeremy Schoemaker
Affiliate Marketing Legend: Scott Jangro

So without further delay lets get into the odds for this year. These are just my opinions and if I pick you that will probably only hurt your chances of actually winning. Sorry. And as always please remember: These odds are for entertainment purposes only. Please… No Wagering!

Affiliate of the Year

Deals.Woot – Deals.Woot.com is a deal aggregator and I am sure they can push some good volume to the merchants they work and they are the first company to be nominated. They pull in deals from many different merchants and also allow users to submit deals so they have a very broad reach. In the past the nominees have all been individuals so that might put them at a disadvantage.

Odds on winning? 10-1. I lean more towards individuals for this award as opposed to companies.

Kim Rowley – This will be Kim’s third nomination for Affiliate of the Year and while there are two affiliate managers who have received 3 nominations in the past without winning (Jamie Birch and Stephanie Harris) there has never been an affiliate nominated three times and I can think of few people more qualified for that honor than Kim. She was my pick last year but lost out to Nickycakes. Kim runs multiple sites including Shopping Bookmarks, Steal The Style, and Shoeholics Anonymous.

Odds on winning? I would probably put Kim’s odds at 2-1 on this and she is my heavy favorite in this category.

Tricia Meyer – Tricia is a newcomer to the Pinnacle Awards but could end up giving Kim a run for her money. Tricia runs Sunshine Rewards along with many other sites. She is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan which could hurt her odds a bit in my mind. Tricia is a former lawyer and has a very good handle on what a good affiliate is and she is a great example of how to do this affiliate thing the “right” way.

Odds on winning? Tricia gets 5-1 odds. She will be in the race for this award.

So who will win? My money is on Kim Rowley. Third time is a charm and Kim is very deserving of this award. Tricia will probably be taking home some hardware sometime in the next couple years but this is Kim’s year.

Affiliate Manager of the Year

Carolyn Kmet – There are few affiliate managers out there who have been around as long as Carolyn. I remember hearing about her back in 2002 or 2003 when I first started in this industry and she has been impressive whereever she has been. Recently she took over as affiliate manager at Groupon.com and I know she will be able to do great things with that program. Maybe Groupon knew how effective Carolyn would be in growing their business when they turned down that huge offer from Google. This is Carolyn’s second nomination and is probably a favorite for this award. 

Odds on winning? Carolyn is the favorite at 3-1 odds.

Kim Salvino – Kim is the senior account manager and affiliate evangelist at Buy.at and was a finalist for this award in 2009. Kim has won 3 different Abestweb Best Of awards including Best Affiliate Manager in 2008, Best Affiliate Program in 2007, and Most Improved Affiliate Program in 2007 when she was with 4Checks.com. So as you can see she is no stranger to winning awards. I have never personally worked with Kim on any programs but she does know her stuff and is a threat.

Odds on winning? I will give her 5-1 odds. Maybe next year Kim.

Wade Tonkin – Wade recently left GTO Management to take over the affiliate program at Football Fanatics and they are very lucky to have him on board. Wade has a ton of experience in the affiliate industry and he is on my short list of great affiliate managers. This will be Wade’s first Pinnacle Awards finals and it can be tough for first timers. He might crack under the pressure and expectations or he might come through with flying colors and take home this award.

Odds on winning? Wade gets 4-1 odds. He has a chance but if he loses he can always drown his sorrows at Five Guys.

So who will win? This is a very tough field and I don’t envy the people who vote for these awards. All three of them are very deserving and I am guessing the voting will be very close for this award. But I will go with the odds and take Carolyn Kmet.  

Exceptional Merchant

This is a very tough category to pick. On one hand you have two of the biggest retailers on the internet in Buy.com and Zappos. On the other hand you have a smaller, niche site Tiny Prints that focuses on custom greeting cards, wedding invitations, and the like. I have never done much with any of these merchants so it is hard to rate how well their programs perform. Past winners have been both big companies like Amazon and eBay but also smaller ones like CelebrateExpress.com so you can’t discount TinyPrint’s chances. So lets handicap this race:

Buy.com – They have a pretty wide reach and tons of products and their program is overseen by the wonderful Melissa Salas. I think Melissa gives them an advantage over the other nominees.

Odds of winning? 2-1

Zappos – Zappos is one of the best run companies on the internet and they are expanding far beyond shoes and getting into markets like watches, housewares, clothing, sporting goods, and more. Their partnership with Amazon is a boost for them. This is their first nomination.

Odds of winning? 4-1

TinyPrints – If you like rooting for the little guy take TinyPrints in this fight. They may be a small company compared to Buy.com and Zappos but they aren’t affiliate lightweights. They are the #2 merchant on the Shareasale PowerRank Top 100 and their numbers would be very attractive for affiliates to work with them.

Odds of winning? They are the longshot here at 20-1

So who will win? If I were putting money down on this I would take TinyPrints on the 20-1 odds since they do have a good chance but I think Buy.com and Melissa Salas will take home this award.

Affiliate Marketing Advocate

I know this is a huge cop out but all three of these nominees are very deserving. There are dozens of other people who put in a lot of hard work on behalf of the affiliate industry and it is a shame to not recognize any of them but Rebecca, Lisa, and Brook have all done great things this year for the industry. Rebecca Madigan is the executive director of the Performance Marketing Association, Lisa Picarille is the Content Strategist for the PMA, and Brook Schaff is the Board President for the PMA. I would say give them all an award for their great work.

See how you can get involved with the Performance Marketing Association and start making a difference in this industry.

If I had to pick a winner? Rebecca Madigan is very deserving of this award so I am guessing she will get it but all three of them deserve some sort of recognition.

Best Blogger

Lisa Barone – Lisa has been in the SEO community since 2006 and while her blogging isn’t specifically focused on affiliate marketing she is one of the best bloggers I have read in the business. At Outspoken Media Lisa blogs about every other day and when she attends conferences she is a live blogging machine and can crank out the content like few others. It is almost as good as being there.

Odds of winning? If it were just based on a huge volume of quality content Lisa would probably win easily but since Lisa isn’t focused on affiliate marketing specifically her odds are gonna take a hit. 4-1

Eric Nagel – Eric was my pick for affiliate of the year last year and this year he is up for best blogger. There are few affiliate bloggers out there that provide as much practical information as Eric. Every one of his posts has something you can take and implement in your business. He doesn’t post often (probably averages 2-3 posts per month) but what is there is gold. 

Odds of winning? 3-1. I think this could be Eric’s year to take home some hardware.

Geno Prussakov – Pretty much every day you can count on at least one quality post from Geno. Much of the content Geno puts out is more industry news related than practical “how to” information and you can always count on Geno’s posts to give some good statistics. This will be Geno’s second nomination for the best blogger award and I picked him to win last year based on a bunch of quality content.

Odds of winning? I will give Geno 3-1 odds again. He will be right in this until the end.

So who will win? I could make a solid caes for all three nominees. Personally I get the most out of Eric’s blog but Geno’s isn’t far behind. I wish I had a three sided coin so I could flip it and pick a winner. I am gonna go with Eric to win it though.

Wayne Porter Affiliate Marketing Legend Award

Brad Waller – Just like last year I have to claim a bit of ignorance when it comes to Brad. I met him last year but we never got much of a chance to talk. I know he has been involved in the affiliate industry longer than probably 99.9% of the affiliates out there. I think his first site went up in 1994. Many of the affiliates today were still in elementary school when he got started. Based on longevity he is already a legend.

Odds of winning? His true odds are probably better than this but since I don’t know too much about him I will go 6-1. A bit better than last years odds.

Jen Goode – If niceness was part of the judging criteria Jen would win in a landslide. Jen is primarily an artist but she is also able to combine that with affiliate marketing. Bridging the gap between those two industries can be tough but Jen has done a great job at it. Her hook is her penguins and you can see her work at JGoode Designs.  Jen heads up the Affiliate Summit Newcomer program which connects first timers with veterans and is one of the many things that sets Affiliate Summit apart from other conferences.

Odds of winning? I hate to do this to Jen but I am guessing she will have some pretty long odds to win this award. I would love to make them lower but I have to go 9-1. Sorry Jen. But I would love to see you beat the odds and take home this trophy.

Todd Farmer – Todd has been around this industry for many, many years in quite a few different capacities. From his early days developing the MyAffiliateProgram software and the Kowabunga platform Todd has seen it all. His latest project MyContentPro helps people make their content rock.

Odds of winning? I am gonna put Todd in as the favorite here at 3-1. He is very well liked in the industry and is one of the friendliest people you will meet and I think that will go a long way in the voter’s eyes.

So who will win? Sorry Brad. You might have to wait for next year. I think Todd Farmer will be the Affiliate Marketing Legend winner.

Congratulations to Kim, Carolyn, Buy.com, Rebecca, Eric, and Todd. You are my favorites to take home the hardware.

What are your thoughts? Am I totally off base on my picks? Can you provide any information to sway my choices? Leave a comment below and let me know.

And if you haven’t done so already sign up for Affiliate Summit West 2011 ! It will sell out very soon.

Comments

  1. Excellent post, Joe, and thank you for your kind words. Where the FB "like" button for me to click?

    • Thanks Geno. There is tough competition in all these categories and I had a harder time picking the winners than I did last year. Good luck!

  2. I didn't see your post on this last year, but I really enjoyed your thoughts on this year's candidates. I especially liked the Steelers line :). Good stuff Joe!

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