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  1. #1
    Member jkgourmet's Avatar
    Join Date
    July 16th, 2009
    Mesa, Arizona
    Question Clarification on outsourced program managers and affiliate networks
    I am trying to understand the interworkings or relationships between affiiate networks and outsourced program managers. For example, I see affiliate programs that are presented and promoted through an OPM. But the program is handled by and affiliate network (say CJ or PJ). Who does what? If I wanted to sign up as an affiliate for that program, do I sign up with the OPM or the network? For a newbie, is there an advantage to working with an OPM instead of going directly to the network?

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Nunya, Business
    You have the merchant. And they might have their affiliate program thru a network. And then you can have the OPM, affiliate manager that runs the affiliate program.

    It can be different for each merchant that has an affiliate program. Sometimes they outsource the running of it. Sometimes they have somebody inhouse. And that inhouse person might just run the affiliate program and nothing else, sometimes they run the affiliate program and other marketing channels as well. Some merchants let the networks run their program (bad idea).

    So you mainly sign up with merchants and your main contact is whoever is running the program, be it on a network or an indy program (not on a network).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Every merchant needs to have someone assigned to the task of "affiliate management." Some firms choose to hire an "Outsourced Program Manager" (OPM) for this purpose; some firms choose to hire the network itself to do this work. Most firms keep this task "in-house." The work might be done by one person, or might be shared among several people, who might work for the merchant, the network, and/or the OPM.

    The merchant contracts with the affiliate network. The merchant may separately choose to also contract with an OPM. Of course, if you're going to use an OPM, you're likely to follow their advice about which affiliate network to use; if you've already chosen an affiliate network, you might look for OPMs that work with other merchants within that network (and some OPMs might refuse to work with you if you use a particular network).

    My own opinion: you should absolutely, positively never pay the affiliate network to manage your program for you; there are too many "perverse incentives" in that situation. And in general, you should be extremely wary of any advice you get from the biggest networks (CJ, LS), because they give really awful advice.

    I am a strong advocate of in-house affiliate management, if you have the resources allocated to do the work. If you aren't willing to allocate the resources in-house (or if internal incentives will lead your assigned in-house affiliate manager to focus on other work with more immediate results), then you should absolutely consider an OPM.

  4. #4
    Outsourced Program Manager Sarah Bundy's Avatar
    Join Date
    July 7th, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    The way I like to explain it to people (just to make a clearer picture) is imagine you have a big chain of retail stores. You have your sales team in each store, your store manager and your head office.

    Think of your affiliates as your sales team. It's their job to help the customers buy what they are looking for.

    Think of the Affiliate manager or OPM as the store manager who oversees the sales team, provides them with the tools they need to do their job and offers them support. They motivate the team to keep pushing for greater results and make it a fun store to work in.

    The affiliate network is kind of like your head office, where you have all the stats on all the different store locations and they help keep track of stats, provide additional support to store managers, etc

    You absolutely need a sales team and a store manager (or leader) to make your program work. The networks are there to get your program exposed, to offer additional support and to help with tracking and reporting of stats that are provided by a third party.

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