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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Kush@VMInnovations's Avatar
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    Reasons a Multi-Network Affiliate Strategy Sucks
    In case any merchant's are wondering whether or not it's a good idea to open up the program on more than one network - in 99% of cases no - no it's not.

    Joe Sousa of Fanatics wrote about why it's a bad idea here:

    5 Reasons a Multi-Network Affiliate Strategy Sucks

    tldr: duplication of work sucks, most affiliates that worth working with are on all major networks and those who are not usually don't mind joining the network you're on, lack of focus, with split revenues network ranks on each will look mediocre instead of great on one.

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  3. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    To say nothing of potential tracking issues due to the added complexity.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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  5. #3
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I would agree that branded merchants like Fanatics could home on one network. Ironically they don't as some of their programs are on multiples so makes me wonder if they are working toward getting rid of some of their programs?

    As to the subject of the post, less branded merchants can find a higher sign-up rate on two networks. You need to know techniques to avoid duplicate sales the first is to know your affiliates and limit them to one network. The other is deployment of source referrers to not set multiple cookie/pixels.

  6. #4
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Yep, and that deployment of source referrers to prevent setting multiple cookie/pixels opens up several things that are BAD for affiliates:

    1) Like any added layer of technology, it's not going to be foolproof, so an additional percentage of transactions won't track.

    2) "Build your own" links are especially susceptible to problems.

    3) If the merchant is tracking which network's affiliates last touched the customer, it opens up the possibility that a bad affiliate on one network can steal sales from an affiliate on another network. For instance, if you join a totally clean program on one network but the merchant also has a toolbar "affiliate" on another network, and a customer with the toolbar clicks through on one of your links and the toolbar redirects it, the merchant will only show the toolbar affiliate's tracking pixel (since they "touched" the customer last) and you won't get credit.

    A merchant being on multiple networks is NEVER a good thing for affiliates.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela


  7. #5
    Affiliate Manager
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    Not really getting rid of programs but we are getting rid of some networks. October 3rd and November 6th are circled in bright red on our calendars and there will be a party around here on those dates. And January 2016 (stupid contractual obligations) can't come soon enough.
    Joe Sousa
    <a href="http://www.whatdoesjoethink.com">What Does Joe Think</a>
    Affiliate Coordinator
    <a href="http://www.fanatics.com">Fanatics.com</a>

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  9. #6
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Source referrer simply denotes that the traffic cames from an affiliate redirect so the cookie is properly set. As for conversion it depends on the network you are working with as some have 20 to even 40% better conversion due to more sophisticated tracking. Having worked on this for the last three years I can say that with understanding and access to the merchants developer you can run successfully on multiple networks. We have taken my largest merchant from 1% conversion on average to 3%+.

    That said, if you don't have the technical background or support of your merchant then stay with one network for safety's sake. Right now we are evaluating adding a third network like Shareasale to a merchant on AvantLink and Commission Junction. We fully realize that SAS and CJ have 90% of the same merchants but we are interested in other promotional opportunities and reaching affiliates that didn't see us on the other platforms (dilution) . Before we make that decision we have to justify the expense (minor) but more importantly the added work.

  10. #7
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    Simplification is starting to look better in my old age... might be acquiring wisdom.

    I think the pendulum has swung to the point where two of the "smaller" networks have finally managed to pick up critical mass in terms of the major affiliates willing to work with them. There are just a few hold outs in terms of non-toolbar loyalty players who are still CJ/Rakuten/EEAN only, but these guys are seeing bigger merchants like the Acceleration Partners Stable and Fanatics brands and others making ShareASale and AvantLink their preferred networks due to better technology and more willingness to work with us to innovate and provide top notch tools. Networks who listen and act on requests are great.

    Unless you're looking to open up in a new market Internationally, or a network comes up with a tool that is a game changer in a specific niche, I really don't thin that there's a need to be in more than 1 or 2 networks just to "acquire affiliates"

    This "open up on 5-6 domestic networks at the same time" thing is a tragic joke that doesn't pay off and ends up with someone else having to clean up the mess down the road and a lot of networks and affiliates get messed with needlessly.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
    NFLShop.com|Shop.NHL.com|NBAStore.com|Store.NASCAR.com
    Email wtonkin // at // Fanatics.com


  11. #8
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    Chuck, if anything in that situation, if you add AvantLink, look to whack CJ. I think you'd find that 95% of the real revenue generating affiliates exist in either AvantLink or SAS and you could ditch the dinosaur and likely lower your costs while increasing conversion and lowering Cost of Revenue.

    That and you'd be working with a couple networks who actually care.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
    NFLShop.com|Shop.NHL.com|NBAStore.com|Store.NASCAR.com
    Email wtonkin // at // Fanatics.com

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  13. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Unless you're looking to open up in a new market Internationally, or a network comes up with a tool that is a game changer in a specific niche, I really don't thin that there's a need to be in more than 1 or 2 networks just to "acquire affiliates"
    I feel that 2 is sufficient and would rather limit to 2 meaning open a 3rd then removing one of the others.

    Chuck, if anything in that situation, if you add AvantLink, look to whack CJ. I think you'd find that 95% of the real revenue generating affiliates exist in either AvantLink or SAS and you could ditch the dinosaur and likely lower your costs while increasing conversion and lowering Cost of Revenue.
    One big negative with CJ is having to load balance to keep from being penalized with monthly minimums. Why should a merchant have to pay a penalty for off season sales? All networks should be on a flat rate of sale percentage with no monthly minimums.

    One perception that we are all starting to get over is that you have to be on a large network to be current in your AM program.

  14. #10
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    With CJ, the monthlies are about both revenue and keeping a little "barrier to entry" to the smaller companies and keep the brand recognition up when people see who they are working with. That said, we've made the decision here to no longer provide them with revenue or brand equity.

    Feels good. Truly cool thing is that we're growing without them.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
    NFLShop.com|Shop.NHL.com|NBAStore.com|Store.NASCAR.com
    Email wtonkin // at // Fanatics.com


  15. #11
    Affiliate Manager Kush@VMInnovations's Avatar
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    Best thing we did for our affiliate program was leaving CJ and focusing all efforts on growing our ShareASale program. Happy to report, it paid off a hundred times over... just sayin'

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  17. #12
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    That said, if you don't have the technical background or support of your merchant then stay with one network for safety's sake.
    I've seen more than one truly amazing, complex technical development implemented VERY WELL, then things go to pot when there's turnover at the company.

    I don't care how technical the background is. Merchants being on multiple networks is still NEVER a good thing for affiliates.

    The whole concept behind multi-network tracking is that extra coding on the merchant's side causes transactions to only be recorded to a network if certain conditions are met (primarily that the customer went most recently through an affiliate link from that network). That opens up the possibility that a bad affiliate on one network can hijack traffic that should have been credited to an affiliate on another network.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  18. #13
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Then we agree to disagree and I thank you for your comments and insight. The moral of the story is to follow the AM/OPM and not the program (if possible).


  19. #14
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    As an affiliate - unless I really, really want to join a specific merchant (because I want their products) I will not choose one on multiple networks.

    We do have exceptions and, as Chuck suggests, we follow the OPM and AM in some of those cases.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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