What are Affiliate Networks?
Affiliate Networks are websites like Commission Junction, Clickbank, Affiliate Window and PayDotCom that connect product owners – people who have got products to sell – to affiliate marketers – people who sell products online in order to earn commissions.
The reason Affiliate Networks exist is that they help products owners to find affiliate and they help affiliates to find products to sell. A product owner can join an affiliate network and benefit from rapid and easy access to a large number of affiliates. Similarly, affiliates join networks to find a wide range of products they can sell and make commisisons from. This is a great deal easier than individual product owners having to hunt down affiliates individually and individual affiliates having to hunt down products they can sell for commissions.
Another benefit for Affiliate Networks is that they standardise the legal agreements between product owners and affiliates and in most cases they also act as the central exchange and payment system for commissions. Finally they often provide reporting data to both affiliates and product owners which helps operators find the most profitable ways of doing business together. For example, some businesses identify their best affiliates – so-called “super-affiliates” – and nurture them or provide them with additional commissions in order to make larger profits.
The final key benefit of Affiliate Networks is that they make it easier for affiliates and product owners to trust each other – the network sits between marketers and product owners and acts as a guarantor that commission payments will be made appropriately and that products that sales are recorded correctly.
In the area of information products, a market to which the internet is extremely well suited, Clickbank is probably the market leader. However, the overall business of affiliate marketing is colossal online with literally billions of dollars worth of transactions taking place each year and with millions of affiliate marketers active.
For product owners, the most important feature of an affiliate network is the amount of money it can generate via its affiliate network. For affiliate marketers, the most important feature of an affiliate network is the range of profitable products they give access to – assuming the basic commission payment process is reliable and trustworthy.