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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Maim133's Avatar
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    Multiple Networks/Affiliate Crossover
    I had a hard time figuring out what to search for to find an answer for this, so maybe this exact question has not been floated at least recently...

    How many "unique" affiliates do you think any network brings to the table? For example do top affiliates really limit themselves to one or two networks and say "I work with CJ merchants, but never Linkshare or vice versa?" The barriers to entry as an affiliate into the networks is almost 0, so I've always assumed starting more programs on other networks would at best bring very small marginal returns. So if I have one program bringing in 100K a month, starting a second might bring in an extra 5K.

    Do affiliates, AM's or OPM's disagree? What percentage of affiliates do you think are unique to one network or another?

  2. #2
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    A lot of affiliates belong to multiple networks.

  3. #3
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    Last December, I wrote (here):

    Probably the single greatest misconception about "affiliate networks" is the notion that by joining an affiliate network, the merchant will have instant access to many thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of "existing affiliates."
    • In fact, nearly all affiliate "networks" include many hundreds or even thousands of merchants, all competing for the attention of prospective affiliates with each other and with tens of thousands of other merchants outside the network.
    • The vast majority of affiliates within each network are either "not yet active" or "unproductive" for any merchants.
    • Among those affiliates who are "active and productive," most are productive only for a single merchant, and ignore offers from other merchants.
    • Commission Junction almost certainly has the largest number of "enrolled affiliates" in its network; ShareASale, LinkShare, and Kowabunga/Kolimbo also have huge numbers of enrolled affiliates across their "networks." Smaller networks like Performics and AvantLink have much smaller numbers of affiliates, but have a better "quality" on average, and probably have a higher "activation rate." Lower-tier networks may have tens of thousands of enrolled affiliates, but very few are "successful" by any reasonable measure.

    I also wrote (here):

    A merchant's choice of "technology solution" (for tracking and reporting commissions, and possibly for handling commission payments) is a critical component in many affiliates' decision to participate.
    • Some affiliates work only with one or a few "affiliate networks," and will not consider other merchants.
    • Some affiliates refuse to work with specific networks, due to experience or reputation.
    • Some affiliates work with "networks only," refusing to work with merchants who have "in-house" affiliate solutions.

    I am currently "in transition" in my affiliate role, so I am not a "top affiliate" by any measure, but I can definitely confirm that I definitely will not work with LinkShare, Kolimbo/Kowabunga, or PepperJam (and I'm certain that many strong-performing affiliates share my view of one or more of these companies). I recently (reluctantly) decided to resume working with Commission Junction and to test the Google Affiliate Network (DoubleClick/Performics/ConnectCommerce) after earlier refusing to work with them.

    Adding a program on a second network probably will draw better returns than your estimate, because each affiliate probably has a "preferred network" and will be more responsive to joining programs through that network. This is probably more applicable to "high-added-value" affiliates (niche content sites) and not to certain other types of affiliates -- especially "all-joiners" like coupon sites, although I'm sure there are coupon sites that exclude some networks.

    As noted in some other recent threads, many affiliates will only promote you if you provide a valid and well-organized datafeed; and as noted below, many affiliates rely on specific formats (banners and buttons, or widgets, or coupon & deal feeds) which must be provided if you want to be included on those affiliates' sites.
    Last edited by markwelch; August 27th, 2008 at 01:08 PM.

  4. #4
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    The success of affiliates also depends on the tools the merchant provides.

    No tools, creatvies, poor data feeds leave affiliates very little to work with.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    For me the network decision is based first on the product I'm looking for, secondly on the merchant that carries that product, and thirdly on the network. If there are choices in multiple networks, I'll choose a network that I'm already a member of. I'll reluctantly join a less desirable network if that's my only choice to access the product[s] I need.

    To come up with numbers or percentages would be speculation only. I doubt anyone would have accurate information about that.



    X

  6. #6
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I'd say every real affiliate is a member of the the top three (GAN, CJ and LS) there isn't any exclusivity there no way no how, simply because it's self limiting to the affiliate. As you go down the line of the next tier of aff networks and into the CPAs yes you will have some that will not participate in network X or Y but you should realize that networks are really just tracking and payment mediums, yes an ancillary service is recruiting.

    If you build a great program affs will know it and find you now matter where you are, I'd focus on that and making sure the network is aff friendly and tracks. That's the only real thing that will limit your program's growth and sign ups not how many affs on a network and the crossover rates.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  7. #7
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haiko de Poel, Jr.
    If you build a great program affs will know it and find you now matter where you are, I'd focus on that and making sure the network is aff friendly and tracks...
    This also addresses a common merchant misconception that goes something like this: I'd rather sign up with another network (or two) than hire someone (in-house or outsourced, it doesn't matter in this example) to manage my program. One will never replace the other. Adding your (not pointing this at anyone specific) affiliate program to new networks will never have the same effect as aggressive affiliate program management and proactive affiliate recruitment.

    Geno

  8. #8
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    Haiko and Geno make a very important don't search for "greener pasture" networks if you haven't properly exploited your current affiliate network.

    When I wrote (above) "a second network probably will draw better returns than your estimate," I certainly did not intend to encourage any merchants to open programs on additional networks. In fact, if the merchant is already on a "quality network," then it's unlikely that most merchants will profit from adding a second network. (The most plausible exception would be if there is a specific affiliate whom you know would be a top performer, but who refuses to work with your existing network.)

    Most unsuccessful affiliate programs "fail" because the merchant hasn't allocated adequate resources -- to the proper management of the affiliate program (including recruitment, activation, and support, plus creatives/content/banners/datafeed), and also to management and administration of the web site (content, layout, experience), and business (product selection and presentation, customer service, and fulfillment).

    It's also extremely important to recognize that concurrently operating affiliate programs through multiple networks (or in-house plus network) creates new complications, including the possibility that commissions for a single transaction may be credited to affiliates on both networks.

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