(With thanks to Mayrena Tavarez of AffiliateManager.com for her write-up in this next installment in our I Am Performance Marketing series!)

Wade Tonkin lives in Jacksonville, FL and manages the Affiliate Management team for Fanatics, an online retailer of licensed sports apparel and merchandise. Wade oversees the affiliate programs for over 30 top licensed sports merchandise eCommerce sites including Fanatics.com, FansEdge.com, NFLShop.com, MLBShop.com, NBAStore.com, Shop.NHL.com, UFCStore.com and MLSStore.com.

In conducting our I Am Performance Marketing feature profiles series, we had the opportunity to ask Wade some questions about his start in the Industry, what he envisions for its future and, of course, Fanatics.

Wade entered the performance marketing industry 18 years ago when he launched and managed the Etera.com affiliate program on LinkShare. When asked what brought him to the performance marketing industry, Wade shared “Like most others I know in the industry, I didn’t set out to become an affiliate manager. I got into the tech industry initially when a friend whose band I had done booking, promotions and marketing for got me an interview with a software company as a guerrilla marketer.” Fast-forward to today and Wade could not be happier. “I joined Fanatics in November of 2010 and I couldn’t be happier as Fanatics allows me to work in 2 of my great passions in life – sports and affiliate marketing.”

The Seattle Seahawks, Washington Huskies, Boston Bruins and Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League are some of the sports team Wade loves but that is not all he has love for. “There’s a ton to love about this Industry. It’s definitely one that rewards innovation and out of the box thinking.”

He adds, “I also really enjoy the people in the business. There some amazing and crazy smart people in the industry that are all coming from a variety of different educational and vocational backgrounds that come together to create a really rich and diverse talent pool.”

Performance marketing is an Industry that is constantly evolving, Wade and the team at Fanatics have been innovating by empowering the affiliates they work with through tutorials and live trainings, “we’ve taken tools that we thought matched up well with specific types of affiliates and developed a 3 minute tutorial that we used to both recruit and activate social media and content affiliates that resulted in 7 figure sales over the last 3 years. We also work with our affiliate network partners to create new tools and fine tune existing tools to get optimal performance.”

Finally, when it comes to the future of the industry, Wade believes “the industry is maturing and we’re seeing a lot more opportunities to work with non-traditional affiliates like mainstream media partners and organizations looking to fundraise. The online experience has definitely shifted to mobile and merchants who embrace this and partner with affiliates with solid mobile experiences and/or mobile apps will definitely benefit from the shift. We’ve definitely seen affiliate partners who were slow to follow Google’s advice to provide a good mobile experience suffer”.

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Tricia Meyer is an attorney and affiliate marketer. She is the founder and owner of Helping Moms Connect and Sunshine Rewards as well as the current Executive Director of the Performance Marketing Association. You can find her on Twitter @SunshineTricia.