Affiliate network act as the middleman between the affiliates and merchants by providing affiliate marketing management services to both parties. The affiliate network called the merchants as its advertisers while the affiliates as its publishers. It is the affiliate network’s responsibility to ensure that both parties are getting the best customers support, reliable tools and secure system to use so that the merchants and affiliates can focus on what they do best.
The merchants use the affiliate network to publish their affiliate programs and use its tracking technology to keep track of the affiliates’ performance. It has other additional features such as fraud protection, statistical reporting tools, payment processing that allow merchants to manage their affiliate well. The affiliates, on the other hand, are using affiliate network to apply for merchants’ affiliate programs. They use affiliate network’s reporting features to keep track of the sales, traffic, campaign performance and commission.
Why Affiliate Network?
Merchants favor affiliate network because it is a cost effective way of promoting their products to the market place and acquiring customers. It pays affiliates only when sales occur or lead generated, this helps to reduce unnecessary expenses on marketing or advertising. In addition, the merchants enjoy increased brand visibility and exposure when more and more affiliates advertise their affiliate programs on their websites.
Likewise, affiliates prefer affiliate network as it could help to ensure they are paid promptly by the merchants so that none of them suffer late or no payment. Moreover, commissions are aggregated into one monthly payment from different merchants rather than waiting to reach the minimum threshold set by each merchant. Most importantly, affiliate network simplifies the application process where the affiliates just need to register once and could access to many merchants’ affiliate programs. In other word, it saves up time and hassles of applying individually from each merchant.
Who are the Affiliate Networks?
There are many affiliate networks around; each has its own strength and weakness. Different merchants may choose to join different affiliate networks for different reasons. You may find yourself end up signing up with many different affiliate networks for some affiliate programs but it opens up more options for you.
Below is a list of reputable affiliate networks found in the market place.
Amazon launched its first online bookstore in 1995 and since then has diversified into selling other products. It is one of the most trusted sites in USA and is popular among online consumers. Affiliates like Amazon because of its wide arrange of product selection but the commission could be low when compared to other networks. Nevertheless it is an excellent option as it is a trusted brand and normally people purchased more than one product from Amazon.
Commission Junction (CJ)
CJ was founded in 1998 and then acquired by ValueClick in 2003. It is one of the first and largest affiliate networks in United States and has presences in other countries like Japan, Sweden, Germany, France and United Kingdom. It has many international brands listed in its network such as eBay, Apple Store, Skype and Pricerunner are the few. It is favored by many affiliates due to its great merchants, wide selection of affiliate programs and tracking technologies.
Like CJ, Clickbank was also founded in 1998 and has become one of largest affiliate networks that focus mainly on selling eBook, software and digital products in USA. However, since it is simple and easy to set up for merchants in Clickbank, the quality of the products varies, it may take some time before you could find a niche and quality products to promote. The good news is you do not need to get any prior approval from merchants for joining their affiliate programs.
Established in 1996, LinkShare is a division of Rakuten, Inc. It is also one of the oldest and biggest networks in the United States. LinkShare has many big name merchants listed under its network and offer good training programs for its new affiliates. It has superior tacking technology and offer in-depth report that other networks are not able to provide
ShareASale was established in year 2000 and considered the youngest among the other networks. It is much smaller in scale and its interface was not as robust as CJ or LinkShare. However, they are well liked by many affiliates for their speed and customer support. Their customer support teams are considered the most responsive and friendly compared to other networks.
Besides the above established networks, there are many other affiliate networks found in the market place too. For example Pepperjam Network, CPA Empire, Market Leverage, NeverBlueAds, AffiliateFuel and many others. If you intend to join one of these affiliate networks either as a merchant or affiliate, do your researches first, find one that can fit your needs and goals.