Yesterday, at their annual West Coast conference in Las Vegas, Affiliate Summit’s founders Shawn Collins and Missy Ward handed out 2013 Pinnacle Awards, and I couldn’t help but put together a follow-up commentary.
This was my third time in a row making the list(s) of finalists, and no, the “third time’s the charm” proverb didn’t materialize. I did not win. But this was really secondary — secondary to my overall impression from this year’s Pinnacle Awards. The people and companies who were awarded their prizes worked really hard (some for over a decade!) for what they got and, in my opinion, each and every one of them truly deserves their award. Regardless of the industry, the greatest recognition one may receive is that by peers. (They generally make the best critics, don’t we?) This year’s winners are fully worthy of the praise and acknowledgment shown to them.
So, here are names of the winners in each category (with my thoughts on each):
Affiliate of the Year: Rhinofish Media / Pat Grady
Having followed Pat since day one of getting into affiliate marketing, and seeing how his role and business have evolved over the past decade, I am surprised that he, and his company (experts in all things paid search marketing, and more) weren’t awarded this earlier. Pat is one of the most intelligent and astute individuals in the affiliate marketing industry. He is also always honest and straightforward. When I grow up, I want to be like Pat (in more than one way, for sure).
Affiliate Manager of the Year: Jon Nunez
Three words: he beat me. If this isn’t impressive enough for you, as a part of his outsourced affiliate management work at AffiliateManager.com (which he co-owns with his brother Mike), Jon manages several successful affiliate programs. In addition, over the years, the Nunez brothers have developed a number of affiliate marketing tools (for example, Bounce.cc for affiliates (and long before Skimlinks), and AffiliateRecruitment.com for affiliate managers).
Exceptional Merchant: Under Armour
I am not familiar with Under Armour’s affiliate program first-hand, but I am well-acquainted with the work of Amy Ely, the company’s affiliate manager. She is very diligent, attentive to detail, highly productive, ethical, great relationship-builder who is always beaming with positivism. Amy participated in my Affiliate Summit’s panel this year, and I have utterly enjoyed working with her preparing it. I am not surprised that her company/affiliate program has won this one (beating Amazon along the way).
Affiliate Marketing Advocate: Senator Dick Durbin
“What has a Senator done to be marked by one of the highest-regarded awards in the affiliate marketing industry?” you wonder. I’ll tell you. Have you heard of affiliate nexus tax state legislation? For years we’ve been saying that only a federal solution can resolve this situation; and Senator Durbin is one of the key authors of Marketplace Fairness Act a bill which (once enacted) will put an end to the affiliate nexus tax [more here and here].
OPM/Agency of the Year: Schaaf-PartnerCentric
Another two-brothers’ OPM agency has claimed a prestigious award, and rightfully so. However counter-competitive it may sound coming from the mouth of their direct rival, I have always known Brook and Forrest Schaaf as hardwoking OPMs; and I sincerely applaud them on growing their business from a tiny OPM firm back in 2007 (which was when I first met them) into what it has become today.
Tool/Service of the Year: BrandVerity
BrandVerity is one of my personal favorites in the space. Having started as a tool for policing affiliate compliance with programs’ paid search policies, over the past year, they have added such important functionalities as social media monitoring, coupon compliance, and toolbar analysis. If prior to the awards ceremony, I were asked who deserves this prize the most, without a second thought I’d say: BrandVerity.
Affiliate Marketing Legend: Mr. Mike Mackin
Mr. Mackin can be easily called the Godfather of affiliate marketing. His award was preceded by live testimonials from such pillars of the industry as Kellie Stevens, Rae Hoffman and Pat Grady. Recognize these names, but never heard of Mike Mackin? No surprise here. As Missy Ward has rightfully spotted in her pre-award speech, having mentored many of the current affiliate marketing stars, Mr. Mackin has always remained in the shadow; never looking for awards or recognition. A true legend of the industry.
With this, wrapping up my commentary, I’d like to congratulate the winners (especially, those whose hands I didn’t get to shake right after the awards). Well done, colleagues! Keep up the good work, and we’ll keep looking up to you, and learning from your successes.