Handicapping the 2017 Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards

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The time has come once again for the long awaited (by nobody) Affiliate Summit 2017 Pinnacle Awards Handicapping post. I have done this post for quite a few years now and my record of picking the winners isn’t all that great but this is always a fun post to write so here we go.

Affiliate Summit Pinnacle Awards

If you want to read the past year’s posts here you go:


(BTW, this is an affiliate marketing blog… of course it will be monetized with affiliate links. If this disclosure is even necessary for anyone reading this send me your address and I will send you a ball peen hammer for you to whack yourself in the head with.)

Affiliate of the Year – If you can’t guess by the name is a coupon affiliate and one of the biggest around. Along with online coupons for merchants they also have a ton of printable coupons so you don’t have to scrounge through your Sunday newspaper (seriously… who still gets the newspaper???). Overall they are probably one of the top 5 coupon affiliates out there in terms of sheer volume. I have worked with them in the past and for the most part they are pretty solid to deal with. Odds: 5-1 – If you are looking for some great deals is the place to go. They go beyond what a regular coupon affiliate as they have some huge deal forums where users can post deals, upvote and downvote them, comment, etc. If you can get them a good deal they can drive some awesome volume. But beware… their users will find any way possible to stack deals, combine offers, and so on so as a merchant make sure you have your ducks in a row before working with them. Their staff is very good to work with though and are willing to help wherever they can. Right now they are my favorite. Odds: 2-1

Syed Balkhi – Syed runs a number of different websites including which provides all manner of WordPress tools, tricks, and tutorials, OptinMonster (a great leadcapture WP plugin), and a number of other sites. Syed has a very popular session at Affiliate Summit that he does at pretty much every show with a number of other bloggers/affiliates about How to Become a Millionaire Blogger. Odds: 4-1

My pick: While Syed might pull through and snag this award I think will walk away with the trophy.

Affiliate Manager of the Year

Luke Kling – I believe this is Luke’s second nomination for this award as he was nominated back in 2015 as well. If you are in the CPA space you have probably heard of Luke and if I were ever to do any CPA stuff again he would be my first call. Luke has been doing this for quite a while and is definitely worthy of this nomination. Odds: 6-1

Wade Tonkin – Well, since I work with Wade and technically he is my boss I have to say nice things about him. But honestly there are few affiliate managers out there who have been doing things as well as Wade has for as long as he has. If I were a big name merchant looking for someone to run my affiliate program he would be one of my first calls. Seeing what we have been able to accomplish at,,,,, and the rest of our properties is pretty amazing and it couldn’t be done without Wade leading us. Odds: 2-1

Maryellen Garasky – I met Maryellen a few years back when she was just starting in this industry working for an OPM and now she is in charge of the affiliate program. Maryellen has done some awesome things with that program over the past couple years. She is loved by her affiliates and other affiliate managers alike and is very well respected within the affiliate management community. Odds: 3-1

My pick: Hopefully Wade doesn’t fire me for this but I am going to pick Maryellen Garasky to pull off the slight upset here. She is definitely deserving as a first time nominee.

OPM of the Year

AIM – Some of my favorite people in the industry work at AIM. Sarah Bundy and her team handle a lot more than just standard affiliate marketing. The AIM team has a great client list and consistently win awards for their work. They were recently named #90 in the list of Canada’s fastest growing companies and Sarah herself was #55 on the list of top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada. Odds: 4-1

Schaaf-PartnerCentric – Schaaf has been around since 2006 and is currently being run by CEO Stephanie Harris. They have been nominated for this award a number of times in the past and won the award back in 2013. Odds: 5-1

Ebove and Beyond – Jen Ward and her team have been doing some great work in the affiliate industry for a long time now. Their client list is impressive and the ability to drive revenue for their clients is hard to match. They aren’t the largest agency in terms of headcount but by being a smaller, boutique agency they can focus more on the clients they do have. Odds: 3-1

My pick: I think Jen Ward takes home the well deserved trophy here.

Merchant of the Year – I believe Etsy has only had their affiliate program up and running for a couple years at most so for them to pull a nomination for Merchant of the Year is a great accomplishment. Running an affiliate program for a large merchant like this with such a wide assortment of products can be a handful but apparently the Etsy affiliate management team has been up to the challenge. Odds: 8-1 – Of course I have inside knowledge of the Fanatics affiliate program since I run that one. Am I proud of what we have accomplished with this program? Heck yes! Seeing what we have been able to accomplish this year has been outstanding. The continued growth of this program amazes me year after year. We have some great support from our other departments, our team functions seamlessly with other marketing channels, and our quick execution is unmatched in our niche. has taken home this award 2 of the past 3 years and I think 3 in 4 years is well deserved. Odds: 2-1 – I have never used WP Engine’s managed WordPress hosting services but I do know a few people that work there and know they have a top notch operation. They have a very aggressive affiliate team and trying to succeed in a market as competitive as hosting has to be challenging. They have a great product to sell and a great team managing the affiliate side of things as well. Odds: 4-1

My pick: I have to be a homer here and go with Fanatics. Yeah, I am totally biased but knowing the numbers we put up and how we do it I can honestly say it is well deserved.

Tool/Service of the Year – From the merchant perspective Brandverity is an invaluable tool. It save merchants hundreds of hours and many, many thousands of dollars a year with some great paid search and coupon compliance tools. Brandverity has taken this award home twice in the past and they could be collecting some hardware again this January. Odds: 3-1 – If you are looking at things from an affiliate perspective has done some awesome things this past year with their Publisher Toolkit. Bloggers will find this tool very valuable for working with multiple merchants, easily getting links to products, seeing what deals are current, and all in all doing most everything needed to promote a merchant. FMTC took home this award 2 years ago mostly from their enterprise coupon feed but with their Toolkit they have another weapon in their arsenal. Odds: 3-1

Performance Marketing Jobs – Mike Carney and have positioned themselves as the go to for people looking to hire performance marketing professionals. They are an awesome tool for hiring managers as well as job seekers and this is their first nomination. Odds: 8-1

My Pick: I am going with BrandVerity to squeak out a win over FMTC here.

Advocate of the Year

Advocate of the year is always a tough one to pick since all the candidates have done some very valuable work over the year. But in the spirit of the post here we go…

Chad Waite – This past year Chad from (along with some other great people in the industry) did an awesome job getting a nexus bill killed off in Utah. He was at the hearings and shared how these insane laws hurt small businesses and take more taxes out of the state than they would bring in. Great job Chad! Odds: 2-1

Christen Evans – Christen is a great advocate for affiliate marketing in the blogging community. Bloggers are slowly coming around to realizing affiliate marketing is one of the best ways for them to monetize their blogs and Christen has been a huge part of that over the past couple years. She is also awesome at calling out bloggers for not properly disclosing their relationships and while that may seem like a small issue it will become a bigger and bigger issue over the years. Odds: 4-1

Greg Hoffman – Greg Hoffman from Apogee Agency is one of the most outspoken proponents of quality affiliate management. There are so few good affiliate managers out there and Greg is a great advocate for the good ones. He has helped a lot of people in this industry over the years and does a great job helping new affiliate managers find their footing and getting them started on the right path. Greg won this award last year as well so you know he is definitely deserving of the nomination. Odds: 5-1

My pick: Although Christen will probably cover me with unicorn glitter if I don’t pick her I am going with Chad Waite for this award. His work in Utah helped out a tremendous amount of merchants and bloggers this year.

So there you have it. Feel free to use these odds to place some wagers and leave a comment to let me know who you would have picked.

And if you haven’t already done so register for Affiliate Summit today! It will sell out very, very soon and I would hate for you to miss out.


  1. This just popped up in my alerts. I like my odds! 😉 🙂

  2. WP Engine for the underdog win! I’m feeling back to back championships too Joe!

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