As part of this year’s A4UExpo event there’s going to be the first Affiliates4U Awards. These will be presented to various indivduals and companies who deserve recognition for their outstanding efforts in affiliate marketing. As it’s the first ever awards it’s difficult to know whether they cover efforts in 2007 alone, or just as a general marker? However, nominations are now open and following on from Paul and Keith here’s a duck’s eye view on the proceedings.

Innovation in Affiliate Marketing (Network Award): A tough category! Affiliate Window for example have brought out Shop Window, Paid on Results have their content units and a number of other useful features for affiliates, Buy.at have a new management system plus their new Content Engine whilst Affiliate Future brought in video help guides and the flight search engine to accompany the Henoo travel search boxes. I’d like to see POR take this award, but my feeling is Affiliate Window will just about nick it.

Innovation in Affiliate Marketing (Merchant Award): The usual suspects do seem to be Prezzybox and Buyagift. Prezzybox have always been innovative with their content, but I’m not sure about Buyagift in terms of innovation (sorry Graham). For me innovation is providing something to make promoting a merchant easier, and for that reason I expect Prezzybox to take this one. It’s actually quite worrying for the industry that few names spring to mind in this category! Keith mentions eBay and Amazon – I wonder whether they’ll be considered by other affiliates?

Publishers Choice of Network: A tough one again. I’ve rarely had major issues with Tradedoubler, Affiliate Future or Buy.at and am happy with them, I have a soft spot for Paid on Results and I like what’s happening at Webgains. Brand Conversions deserve an award for making the effort to come to Swansea to see us alone, but simply because of the year they’ve had Affiliate Window claim this category.

Publishers Choice of Merchant: I don’t like this category. Is the best merchant the one who earns me the most, who works hardest with us, or the one who I think is the best for affiliates in general? The answer to each part would be different. Prezzybox, IWOOT, Firebox, Justhom, Buyagift to name but a few fit into the latter part of that question, but not in the other areas where we’re directly concerned. Difficult one to call so I’ll sit on the fence!

Publishers Choice of Agency: Here’s a confession – I couldn’t name one! I know there are agencies out there, and I know there are agencies we deal with, but in truth there’s not one that makes me think “oooh I’ll nominate them”. Sorry agency people!

Affiliate Manager of 2007: No idea! Who to pick.. Zak (Prezzybox) and Graham (Buyagift) no doubt do great jobs for their close affiliates and will feature. Does this category include network staff by the way? If so there’s too many to name or pick one above the other, and so all affiliate manager’s deserve this award, especially the ones who help us day to day with updates, information etc.

Best New Merchant of 2007: This is where I’d have liked Affiliates4U to provide some guidance. I’ve no idea is the answer to the question. Merchants are one big blur of links and banners and I haven’t a clue who started this year! Sorry Best New Merchant People!

Affiliate Marketing Blog of 2007: Other than this one? LOL! If Fraser’s Affiliate Blog doesn’t win then it’s travesty of justice on an epic scale!

Best Agency Account Manager: Pass me back that fence as I’m going to sit on it again! No idea who to nominate or indeed who would be the top candidate based on our own working relationships. Sorry Agency Account Manager people!

Best International Affiliate 2007: HTF do I know? This category actually annoyed me and again I’d have liked a bit of guidance about suggestions. I couldn’t begin to tell you who I think the best UK affiliate is let alone an international one! Not ignoring the fact that I actually can’t name an international affiliate… I feel so bad about this, so erm, sorry Best International Affiliate people! (Am I only the one who thought this was a strange category btw?)

Industry Champion Award: Fraser is a popular choice for this category, but I’m going to say no! His blog and podcasts are good and informative, but need a bit more “Paxman” to get the “champion” award (sorry Fraser). My suggestion would be Matt or someone who over the years has worked as an affiliate, merchant and a network – and his efforts in all areas are often overlooked – so Clarke Duncan of POR for me (you can send me the cheque later mate).

Ok, so what have we learned from this? Well, either (1) I know very few people in affiliate marketing; (2) I have no idea what anyone’s role is in affiliate marketing; (3) we don’t work closely enough with any merchants to think they’re great (4) i’m just a miserable non-nominating grumpy old git; or (5) there are so many brilliant merchants and individuals working tirelessly day in day out to such an impressively high standard that it is impossible to name one above another for peer recognition and therefore they are all deserving of an award.

I prefer the latter option (even though it’s very uncomfortable sat on this fence) πŸ™‚