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Handicapping the 2012 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards

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I have handicapped the Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards for the previous two years so I figured I would give it a shot again this year. Just to refresh you here are the results from the previous two years:

2010:

  • Affiliate Of The Year: Nicholas Koscianski
  • 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

I only went 2 for 6 on these picks getting it right with Scott Jangro and Matt McWilliams but missed on the rest.

2011:

  • Affiliate Of The Year: Deals.Woot.com
  • Affiliate Manager Of The Year: Carolyn Kmet
  • Exceptional Merchant: Zappos.com
  • Affiliate Marketing Advocate: Lisa Picarille
  • Best Blogger: Eric Nagel
  • Affiliate Marketing Legend: Todd Farmer

I was 3 for 6 this year picking Carolyn Kmet, Eric Nagel, and Todd Farmer. Not too shabby.

Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards

Who will take home the hardware this year?

So lets get on to the picks for this year. And remember these are just my thoughts and opinions. And this is just for fun. And I am usually wrong.

Affiliate Of The Year

Coupon Cabin: Being one of the biggest coupon sites out there I am sure Coupon Cabin can drive some affiliate sales and some revenue. They recently raised $54 million worth of funding and in 2010 they generated more than $500,000,000 in sales for their merchants. So if you are looking for a David vs Goliath competition for one of the awards this surely is it.

Odds on Coupon Cabin winning: 2-1

Tricia Meyer: Tricia has a number of niche sites as well as Sunshine Rewards which is a cash back site. Tricia also has a blog at Tricia.me and maybe she will make a run at Blogger of the Year in the future but for now she is very well deserving of Affiliate Of The Year. And I really have to be careful what I say about her since she is also a lawyer and could sue me.

This is Tricia’s second straight nomination for Affiliate Of The Year and it is a well deserved honor.

Odds on Tricia winning: 5-1

Eric Nagel: Eric is trying to join the elite as a winner in multiple categories after winning Blogger of the Year last year. Only Angel Djambazov, Scott Jangro, and Brian Littleton have pulled off this feat so if he can get the victory here he will be in great company.

I think Eric was learning PHP programming while still in the womb and he has been honing his skills ever since. He has been able to take those programming skills, apply them to affiliate marketing, and has built and maintained many successful sites over the years.

Odds on Eric winning: 6-1

So who will win? The simplest bet would be to go for the big guy, Coupon Cabin. But I hate betting on the big guy. And last year I predicted Tricia would be walking home with some hardware soon so I will put my money on Tricia Meyer this year.

Affiliate Manager Of The Year

Carolyn Kmet: Nobody has ever pulled off back to back Pinnacle Award wins but if there is anyone who can do it Carolyn can. She is the affiliate manager for Groupon and has very successfully been able to balance the needs of a large, growing, public company like Groupon and the needs of affiliates big and small.

Carolyn has been around this industry as long as I can remember and year after year shows why she is one of the best people in this industry and is the favorite to repeat.

Odds on Carolyn winning: 2-1 

Amy Miller: Every year there are a couple nominees I have to claim ignorance on and this is one of them. I have to apologize to Amy but I don’t know who she is. I did some searching and the best I can guess is she is the affiliate manager for Ticketfly? Can someone correct me if I am wrong?

Odds on Amy winning: 10-1 (based only on my ignorance, not her competence)

Kim Salvino: Kim is one of the great AMs at Buy.at and head of publishers there. This is Kim’s third nomination for this award and if she doesn’t win she can join Jamie Birch with three nominations and no Pinnacle Award wins.

Kim has won many different awards over they years for her work and she is one of the best in the business.

Odds on Kim winning: 4-1 

So who will win? Sorry Kim, the third time isn’t a charm. Carolyn Kmet goes back to back for this award.

Exceptional Merchant

Amazon: I am guessing nearly every affiliate pushes at least a few sales through Amazon even if they are just from friends and family who use their link. Is the biggest the best? They won back in 2007 and are looking to regain their crown as Exceptional Merchant.

But they do have some marks against them in the affiliate community, primarily dumping affiliates who live in the “Amazon Tax” states. I know it is probably the right thing to do for them but this move has hurt many affiliates.

Odds on Winning: 4-1

Overstock: Have you ever bought anything through Overstock? I can’t remember the last time I made a purchase there let alone visited their site. But like with any large merchant I am sure their affiliate program generates some good sales and drives quality revenue.

Odds on Winning: 14-1

TinyPrints: TinyPrints is currently the #1 ranked merchant in the Shareasale Power Rank and you don’t get to that spot without being good. They sell stuff like wedding invitations, photo Christmas cards, custom birth announcements and all sorts of stuff like that. TinyPrints has been a top merchant for many years now and while they aren’t a giant retailer like Amazon or Overstock they are an awesome niche retailer that has carved out a nice market share for themselves.

Odds on winning: 4-1

So who will win? I am going to go with TinyPrints for this award. They aren’t as big as the other two nominees but their program is very well run by Acceleration Partners and I think the tax issues with Amazon and Overstock will hurt them.

Affiliate Marketing Advocate

Just like I do every year I am gonna pull a cop-out and say all three of these nominees deserve to win this award. Brian Littleton, Rebecca Madigan, and Tim Storm have all gone above and beyond this past year as voices for the industry and have done more than their share to fight issues like the Amazon Tax. I wish they would give out three awards here.

But if you make me pick a winner I am gonna go with Tim Storm, formerly of Fat Wallet. When the Amazon tax passed in Illinois he moved his whole multi-million dollar company across the border to Wisconsin. This was a good business decision for Fat Wallet but it was also a company standing up and showing a state that the Amazon tax will only hurt their revenue, not generate more revenue. Great job Tim!

Best Blogger

Mr. Green – Lorenzo Green blogs at MrGreen.am and I know I have always enjoyed his posts and seen a lot of practical tips there. He seems to focus mostly on the CPA side of things and does a lot with POF and other advertising of that sort.

The case studies he has done int he past give some great information and some step by steps affiliates can take with their advertising.

I don’t think I remember ever meeting Lorenzo but I do enjoy reading his blog even though I don’t really do much in the CPA, PPC, or display ad space. But some of the stuff he talks about is applicable to other forms of marketing as well.

Odds on Winning: 3-1

Sam Harrelson – There are few people who have worked on more affiliate blogs than Sam Harrelson. His latest blog is PayPerTrends.com and from what I can see he posts quite a few times per day.

Many of his posts are all original and many of them are commentary on other posts or news from the world of affiliate marketing or the online world in general. I have just started reading his posts and he gives some great information and pulls in other great information from a variety of sources.

Sam has had many blogs come and go over the years but I hope this one sticks around for a while.

Odds on Winning: 5-1

Tricia Meyer: This is Tricia’s second nomination of the year but it is a well deserved nomination. Tricia blogs at Tricia.me and she covers a variety of topics.  Her posts are mostly not technical stuff or how do to affiliate marketing type of information but all her posts are worth reading.

Her recent post on bad merchants that deserve lumps of coal was a great lesson for merchants who take advantage of their affiliates by changing the terms of service and she also regularly posts on how people can monitize their sites, helpful info for people attending Affiliate Summit, and some other day to day stuff as well.

Odds on winning: 6-1

So Who Will Win? I think I will go with the best odds here and take Mr Green. While I do like the other two blogs and read them regularly his probably has the most practical information which is what I like.

Affiliate Marketing Legend

Kim Rowley – Kim has been around this industry for many, many years and pretty much has all the credentials to be considered a legend. Kim runs many different sites, has spoken at many different conferences, has helped many other people in this industry, and gives back more than she gets.

Out of all three finalists for the Affiliate Marketing Legend award I know Kim better than any of the other nominees so it is easy for me to see why she is nominated here.

Odds on winning: 3-1

Brad Waller – This is Brad’s third straight Legend nomination and the third straight year I have to say I don’t really know Brad. I have met him a couple times but really don’t know much about him. He has been in the industry longer than anyone else I can think of though (since around 1994) and based on his longevity he definitely deserves this nomination.

Odds on winning: 4-1

Adam Weiss – I feel like an idiot saying this but this is the first I have ever heard about Adam Weiss. He is the VP of Network Development & Product Strategy at Linkshare currently and I really don’t do much of anything with Linkshare. I have only had bad experiences with Linkshare but that really is no reflection on Adam.

Odds on winning: 8-1

So Who Will Win? Gonna give this one to Kim Rowley mostly because she is the only nominee I really know much about although Brad will make a strong run at it.

Will I get more than three correct this year? I have no idea. What I do know is I will miss being in Vegas for Affiliate Summit this year and I will miss seeing the winners. What I am really hoping for is for Eric to pull a Kanye when Tricia wins the Affiliate Of The Year.

All of the nominees here are very deserving of these awards and it must be really hard to pick the winners. You could probably make an argument for everyone here to walk away with a trophy but there will be only 6 winners. Congratulations to you all!

What are your thoughts? Who do you think will win this year? Leave your comment below and let me know what you think.

Comments

  1. Shawn Collins says:

    I think Jamie was forever jinxed after he showed up years ago to Affiliate Summit with his Chris Gaines haircut. http://aff.bz/rXRyLr

  2. How did Overstock EVER get nominated as an "Exceptional Merchant" when their site is now filled with their own affiliate links to a Linkshare merchant (Barnes and Noble), diverting affiliate-generated traffic and in effect stealing commissions? Huh?

    • Joe Sousa says:

      No idea how they got a nomination. I would never think of using their program for anything. So many better merchants out there.

  3. I feel Tricia deserves Affiliate of the Year far more than I do. However, up against the powerhouse that is Coupon Cabin, it's a tough one. I'm routing for her!

  4. I love Kim to death, but Brad Waller was the guy that unofficially invented affiliate marketing – before Amazon. Slighting him again on the Legend award is like not letting Elvis into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    IMO, neither Amazon nor Overstock deserve the Merchant award simply for their treatment of affiliates in the nexus tax issue. TinyPrints gets it by default – which is kinda sad to say because they're also extremely deserving and would get my vote even if Amazon and Overstock weren't persona non grata with me on these issues.

    For the blogger… I don't know Mr Green at all. Sam, I love Sam too…but Tricia has been consistent and I think the award should go to her this time (in the absence of any opinion about Mr Green). I'd like to see Sam win next year for the effort that he's been putting in for the past few months, though. Great, great stuff.

    Advocate is a toss-up to me, too. Tim made a huge statement by moving his company. Rebecca spends her days flying all around the country meeting with congress members in every state that tries to pass the nexus tax. And Brian Littleton is Brian F&#&ing Littleton – there are few classier and more deserving of the Advocate award. Toss-up. They all deserve it.

    Lastly, Manager… yikes. I honestly don't know. Another toss-up? For me, maybe.

    • Brad and Elvis did wear similar shirts. I'm trying to picture Brad with Elvis hair… disturbing yet awesome.

    • Joe Sousa says:

      It is awesome that every year we see three candidates so worthy of the Advocate award. There are a lot of people who do a lot of good for this industry every day.

      Most years it seems there are two big merchants and one little guy. I really hope the Nexus issue harms them and TinyPrints can win the award. I know it probably won't change a thing in the big picture but maybe it will show even one small merchant that if they do things the right way they can have a successful affiliate program without cutting any corners or screwing affiliates.

  5. Dang it! You blew my idea. I was totally prepared to go all Kanye on Eric when he beats ME! Now I'll have to get more creative. 😉

    In all honesty, thanks for your incredibly kind words. People say it is an honor to be nominated, but it still feels crappy when you lose. Even when you suspect that you probably will. But being recognized in posts like this feels pretty cool.

  6. As the former Susan Lucci of affiliate marketing awards, and professional runner-up, I can say that losing is tough, but keep on doing what you're doing and you'll get there.

    All of the bloggers listed deserve this award. This one's tough. Your times will come.

    • Joe Sousa says:

      The blogger award was probably the toughest because all three blogs approach things very differently and have totally different blogging styles.

  7. David Seans says:

    Amazon hands down for merchant of the year.

    Mr Green deserves blogger of the year.

  8. I know I won't complain if Kim wins. I nominated her – as well as many others I hope.

    • We will have to connect at one of these Summits Brad. I have always seen you from a distance but we have never really gotten to chat. Once we do I am sure I will pick you to win and it will come true. I have only heard good things about you.

  9. Nice job on your picks this year Joe. You went for a few underdogs, and they took the prizes.

    • Joe Sousa says:

      Only 3 for 6 this year. Maybe 3.5 since Tricia did win but not for the right category. My dream is a perfect 6-0 season. Maybe I can convince Ceasars to put it on the sports book next year.

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