In the third part of the Affiliate Marketing series, I take today the topic “Affiliate Networks.”
There are several ways, and this article shows the possibilities and the respective advantages and disadvantages.
What are affiliate networks?
Affiliate networks are third-party providers that understand themselves as mediators between merchants, ie, the company that wants to offer an affiliate program, and the publisher, ie, blog and website operators.
Usually, as a blog or website operator, you would have to vote directly with a company offering a partner program.
But running a partner program involves a lot of effort for a company. For example, you need to keep your ad materials up-to-date, make commission payments, and cancel, handle publishers, collect statistics, get the affiliate program known, and so on.
This may still work for large companies, but for medium and small businesses, the effort would be far too high. And that’s why there are affiliate networks.
These have created all the necessary tracking and billing structures once, and so you do not have to reinvent the wheel as a company.
Such affiliate networks (or even affiliate program networks) offer hundreds of affiliate programs under one roof. This brings with it advantages and disadvantages.
Are you working with affiliate networks or individual companies?
Of course, there is also the alternative of working directly with a company. For example, Amazon operates its affiliate program.
In the following, I would like to list a few advantages for these 2 variants. In the end, everyone has to choose for themselves which option he prefers.
Benefits of affiliate networks:
- Affiliate networks have a large selection of affiliate programs. You can find at least one, often even several partner programs, for the most diverse topics.
- An affiliate network logs in only once and can then choose from hundreds of programs. You do not have to register every time.
- Affiliate networks typically provide detailed evaluations that work the same way for all affiliate programs on the same system. So you have good comparability of the applications of a network.
- Within a partner network, there are usually standardized links, banner sizes, etc.
- The disbursements of commissions are made according to a regular rhythm. Also, you can make it faster on a network on the payout limit, as the commissions of all affiliate programs are counted together.
- You have a central contact person with the affiliate network.
Advantages of working directly with a company:
- A significant advantage of working directly with a company is that there is no commission for the affiliate network. This usually means more revenue for the affiliate.
- In most cases, you can also agree on better conditions in close cooperation with a company.
- Individual agreements are also better to implement in direct cooperation. So particular actions are conceivable.
Both variants have advantages and disadvantages. It’s hardly surprising that many affiliates are both affiliate-affiliated and affiliate partnerships with some companies.
Selection criteria for networks
In the following, I would like to list selection criteria that should be considered when deciding on one or more affiliate networks.
Of course, you can also sign up for multiple affiliate networks, but then one of the significant advantages will be lost. Therefore, newcomers to affiliate marketing should first opt for an affiliate network. Later you can use more.
As with many other things in life, a trusted referral is worth a lot. If you know people who have had excellent experiences with an affiliate network, then this is a principal argument.
Some companies are only represented in affiliate networks. So if you have a clear idea of which affiliate program you want to use, then you should check whether it is an exclusive affiliate program and what affiliate network it offers.
The topic selection is quite wide in the big Affiliate networks. Nevertheless, there are emphases. Also, there are specialized affiliate networks that only accept affiliate programs in one industry.
Here, the affiliate networks do not take much. 30% commission for the network is regular. However, there may be variations in terms of a partner program. If you have specific ideas about a partner program, which is not exclusive, then you should compare the conditions in the different networks.
Again, there are no clear statements. However, it is safer than a vast network that persists and abides by agreements. Minimal networks could rather disappear from the scene.
Some networks have (almost) exclusive affiliate programs that require immediate activation. Other networks check the registration with a partner program against it first, which can take several days.
A monthly payout is standard. Some affiliate networks have already switched to more frequent payouts (eg, 3 times per month). You do not have to wait that long for your money.
The standard payment methods are available in some networks. But especially with international networks, you should look carefully, how to get your money. Often there is only PayPal but also charges.
This is, of course, in the run difficult to check. Maybe you should send an email to the relevant networks and ask some questions. And then you can see it quite well, as it is ordered with the service. Usually, the service quality but only turns out, if you have a problem.
Some affiliate networks offer additional online tools that you can build into your website. For example, an affiliate banner rotator or similar.
The statistics (and the backend as a whole) are very different in the affiliate networks. But I will go into more detail in the detailed analysis of the individual affiliate networks.
Of course, other factors can play a role in deciding on or against an affiliate network. For example, an affiliate network introduced very controversial terms and conditions a while ago, but this has since been reversed.
Which of these factors are more weighted than others; everyone has to decide for themselves.
Overview of affiliate networks
Here I would like to introduce a few affiliate networks with which I have already made experiences myself.
In later articles, I will also analyze the individual affiliate programs again in more detail. Here are just a few bullet points for the different networks.
The Amazon affiliate program is certainly a classic. It is very easy to use.
Unfortunately, in the past, the remuneration was repeatedly lowered or capped.
Overall, the Amazon affiliate program is well worth it because the range of products goes well beyond books and many nice tools for affiliates are offered.
ShareASale offers over 3,900 affiliate programs in 40 different categories.
With zero customer complaints on file, the Better Business Bureau gives ShareASale an A+ rating.
ClickBank offers more than 6 million unique affiliate products and has a flexible payment method. You can choose the frequency of payment like weekly or monthly.
CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction)
CJ Affiliate gives you access to more than 3,000 merchants. CJ Affiliate is part of Alliance Data Systems, which is a Fortune 500 company.
There is a large selection of affiliate networks. And you can also apply directly to many programs.
For starters, you should start with 1-2 networks and become familiar with the functions and the technology. Because often, it’s the details that make the difference.
Many affiliate networks offer unique features that you should look at and test extensively.
If you are very familiar with the network, then you can look at a new one and test it.
The next episode of the Affiliate Marketing series is about the question, “Is my topic profitable?”. Are the visitor numbers sufficient, and if not, how much do I need? Are there suitable partner programs? What about cancellation rates? And much more.