Affiliate Marketing Report Card:

Fanatics presents licensed merchandise for the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, UFC, MLS, and NASCAR. Its internet affiliate marketing program is extremely profitable, having received many awards.
This second installment of “Affiliate Marketing Report Card” focuses on Fanatics, a web based retailer of licensed sportswear, sports activities tools, and merchandise. I’ve watched its internet affiliate marketing program drastically develop during the last ten years. My evaluate, under, will describe the historical past of this system and its administration.
Fanatics is privately owned and is reportedly valued at roughly $4.5 billion. It was ranked 38 within the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500.
If the affiliate administration business had a draft of its finest managers, the best rated could possibly be Wade Tonkin from Fanatics. He began in affiliate administration in 1999 and joined Fanatics in November 2010. Under his steerage, the corporate’s internet affiliate marketing division has grown and has confirmed its worth to senior administration.
Affiliate Networks
In his early years with Fanatics, Tonkin managed by himself a number of affiliate-marketing segments, together with,, and particular person groups, such because the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars. These have been strewn throughout a number of networks and platforms however have been nonetheless producing tens of millions in income. Tonkin started to construct a method for long-term development.
The first main change was to discontinue Fanatics’ use of the now defunct Google Affiliate Network. In alternate, the corporate launched a program on AvantHyperlink. It started to repay, in response to Tonkin, when the SnapLinker bookmarklet was launched within the AvantHyperlink App Market, which permits third occasion builders to construct linking instruments for affiliate use.
“The introduction of this device made it doable to rapidly onboard and activate social media publishers who had entry to energetic teams of sports activities followers,” Tonkin stated.
In 2015, Fanatics stopped affiliate packages on the CJ Affiliate community. Through mergers and acquisitions, the Fanatics group then inherited packages on the Pepperjam community that included packages associated to the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NASCAR. When the Pepperjam contracts expired, Tonkin narrowed the community decisions once more and migrated all his packages to AvantHyperlink and ShareASale.
Tonkin now manages 32 Fanatics’ packages unique to ShareASale and one program break up between ShareASale and AvantHyperlink. He at the moment has 4 packages listed within the ShareASale Top 100 Power Rank:,,, and Other packages rotate out and in of the record throughout peak seasons for his or her respective sports activities.
Tonkin now manages 32 Fanatics’ packages unique to ShareASale and one program break up between ShareASale and AvantHyperlink.
Over the years, Tonkin has employed group members to help with the rising demand of constructing affiliate relationships. Joe Sousa, a former search-engine-based affiliate turned affiliate supervisor, joined the Fanatics group as affiliate coordinator in July 2013. A 12 months and a half later, Sousa received the celebrated “Affiliate Manager of the Year” Pinnacle Award at Affiliate Summit 2014.
Tonkin and Sousa — and Fanatics — have dominated business awards in recent times. Fanatics received the Pinnacle “Exceptional Merchant” Award in 2014 and 2016. The firm has been a finalist for the final 4 years. Both Tonkin and Sousa have been finalists for “Manager of the Year” a number of instances. Tonkin additionally received the AvantHyperlink “Industry Champion” award in 2014 and “Affiliate Manager of the Year” in 2015 and 2017.
With 33 totally different packages, it’s tough to research the infrastructure of every one. The flagship program,, was initially launched on ShareASale in 2005. This program presents licensed merchandise for NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, UFC, MLS, and NASCAR. The information feed holds greater than 400,000 merchandise and it continues to develop as Fanatics acquires new properties.
Affiliates earn as much as 10 %, primarily based on the promotional mannequin. Since they’re in-house, affiliate managers carefully analyze prices and incremental gross sales — i.e., gross sales that may not have occurred in any other case — to maximise efficiency. The monitoring hole cookie is as much as seven days and conversion charge averages about 2 %. The common sale is $76 and the reversal charge can also be about 2 %.
Fanatics’ phrases of settlement are intensive and sophisticated. Affiliates are inspired to ask Tonkin and Sousa for human translation. No paid search is allowed. Affiliates are anticipated to obey the principles. Fanatics’ group displays associates seven days every week and Sousa says he enjoys catching associates breaking the principles, even on a Saturday evening. That is devoted administration.
Attribution and Recruitment
Fanatics’ group is progressive with program administration. In phrases of attribution — deciding which entity ought to obtain a fee — the corporate has been restricted by its ecommerce platform to make use of superior attribution guidelines, which replicate the significance of all affiliate interactions and never simply the ultimate, referring web site.
But Tonkin and Sousa are advocates of superior attribution and, accordingly, are exploring ShareASale’s Conversion Lines and Avantlink’s Avant Metrics. Tonkin and Sousa wish to defend their content material associates and discover methods to reward websites for gross sales that they see as incremental. (I’ve addressed the need of superior attribution, at “Affiliate Marketing: Time to Adopt Attribution Rules?“)
Recruiting new associates is a precedence, as is tagging the brand new associates appropriately. The groups researches and communicates immediately with its associates to know their market niches and the demographics of their customers. Fanatics additionally runs a personal Facebook group for its associates to share data and have interaction them in near-real time.
Hot Markets
Fanatics sends newsletters often and as wanted for particular promotions. Deals are added incessantly to the various various packages. But a key to the corporate’s affiliate success is sizzling markets, such because the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the upcoming jersey vendor modifications with the NBA and the NHL.
“These are time-compressed occasions after we can drive lots of income in a brief period of time attributable to rabid fan curiosity and time sensitivity,” Tonkin stated.
Using Media Rails, its buyer relationship platform, the Fanatics group rapidly communicates with the related area of interest associates and supplies the inventive property and data for fulfillment. The group recruits closely for warm markets earlier than the occasion after which works quickly, typically late into the evening, ensuring the whole lot is prepared.
For instance, when the Chicago Cubs received the World Series in 2016, bloggers, social media companions, and main media websites used affiliate hyperlinks to advertise the merchandise by Fanatics properties. Tonkin stated the gross sales have been “off the charts” as quickly as Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ first baseman, caught the ball for the final out of the sequence.
Final Grade
The Fanatic’s household of internet affiliate marketing packages receives an “A+” grade. The dramatic development through the years and Tonkin and Sousa’s dedication to constructing affiliate relationships is a normal for all different managers.

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