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  1. #1
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Question What Makes a Good Affiliate Network?
    A question was asked in this thread, and it it went like this:

    Quote Originally Posted by portrait
    ...what's the best measure that would determine if the network is working well for a certain affiliate program?
    Merchants, affiliate managers (be it outsourced and working in-house), it'd be good to hear your feedback on what makes a good affiliate network from your standpoint.

    Looking forward to your feedback...

    One-liners may be best...

    Thanks,

    Geno

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Geno,

    You working on volume two of your book?

    Oh, this is so easy......

    SHAREASALE

    Nothing more needs to be said. The name exmplifies all that is good in a network.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  3. #3
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7-days
    You working on volume two of your book?


    Haven't thought of it this way, Ron; but now that you've asked............. No, no, I really thought it'd be good to have it all in one place for new merchants (or rather: merchants that consider starting an affiliate program) to refer to.

    Geno

  4. #4
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    Whatever network helps my merchant's to succeed...

    This could include:
    Fair fees...
    Easy access to accurate reporting...
    Easy access to creative...
    and easy and flexible link building...to name just a few

    Another great, thought provoking question Geno...

  5. #5
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    There are positives and negatives to every network. When choosing a network, I think it's important to put aside all preconceptions and seriously evaluate all options, no matter how big or small. The answer to Geno's question can (and should) be different for every Merchant.

    So to answer your question, I would say a good network is......One that meets the merchant's needs.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Tabasso
    There are positives and negatives to every network. When choosing a network, I think it's important to put aside all preconceptions and seriously evaluate all options, no matter how big or small. The answer to Geno's question can (and should) be different for every Merchant.

    So to answer your question, I would say a good network is......One that meets the merchant's needs.
    I agree, but would add that a good network also meets the affiliates needs as well.

    I know I was quick to throw out Shareasale, but when you are not considering the individual merchant or the individual affiliates, they come to mind as the overall network that embodies what a good networks should be.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager Affiliate Eagle's Avatar
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    Networks that consider all involved, are ethical and especially look out for the interests of the affiliates. I think these are key components! And yes 7Days, Shareasale is one of them!
    Emilio Yepez
    Affiliate Program Manager
    www.lighthouseinternetmedia.com
    PH: 305 389 8955
    AIM: affiliateagle
    Email: emilio@lighthouseinternetmedia.com
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  8. #8
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    One that will assign a group of people who can be there when a merchant and an affiliate have a problem and address it together!

    The best network will have communication opened to everyone and not make it difficult to get answers.

    Low % charges are good
    Extra perks for free like free to list your datafeed and free for affiliates to use it.

    This could go on for hours!

  9. #9
    Online Marketing Consultant
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    ohh ya, what link connecter is doing as well with its newer technologies like Naked Links and things with low setup fees and personalized service.

  10. #10
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7-days
    I agree, but would add that a good network also meets the affiliates needs as well.
    Ron, I couldn't agree more. When I wrote the post I considered adding that point...then I thought, what's in the merchant's best interest is also in the affiliate's best interest. Now that I say that out loud, I realize just how ridiculous it sounds.

    Thanks for keeping me honest!

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Mike,

    It really should go without saying, but some networks (sadly) don't seem to put the affiliate on equal ground as the merchant (especially when it comes to support), so I thought it worth mentioning.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  12. #12
    Outsourced Program Manager Rick - Bitcom's Avatar
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    I just want to add a bit to my post...

    Others have made the point that the network has to help the merchants to succeed but also the affiliates...that almost goes without saying. If the affiliates don't succeed then the merchants won't succeed.

    It MUST truly be a partnership between merchants and affiliates and the network must enhance and facilitate that partnership. Otherwise...what are they really bringing to the party?

  13. #13
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    Good reporting and a decent search function. I need to know how my program is doing at a glance and I need to be able to search through potential partners to find the winners with ease.
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  14. #14
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    This business, at its heart, is about making deals for ad inventory on a per action basis. A great affiliate network makes it easy for merchants and affilaites to find each other and communicate with one another to build these relationships.

    Merchants tend to get the VIP because they're paying the monthly hard costs, and that's just the way of the world. In my experience most affiliate support teams will get bogged down with newbies who forgot their username/password or some such nonsense.

    Get rid of hucksters selling out of the box affiliate sites to John Q. Idaho as work-at-home & get rich quick schemes and watch the affilaite support improve by leaps and bounds.

  15. #15
    Affiliate Network Rep Danny K's Avatar
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    Idaho?
    Quote Originally Posted by BG4512
    ...... Idaho as work-at-home & get rich quick schemes and watch the affilaite support improve by leaps and bounds.
    Okay, I'll bite; You seem to be commenting from an interesting place. And I applaud your new arrival. Though, you might be simply quick to summarize or trying to cast confusion. I don't think getting rid of them is possible. But where does the Idaho reference come from? I'm just curious. Sounds like something I am just niave about. What does Idaho have to do with workathome or get rich schemes?
    Danny K. - Network Administrator, Digital River- oneNetworkDirect.com, Email: dkautt@digitalriver.com

  16. #16
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    No offense to any Idaho residents. Great potatoes. Perhaps John Q. Doesntknowathingaboutcomputers would have been a better. I hesitate to name names, but I'm refering to MLM schemes taking advantage of the uninitiated. And I'm sure you're right about not getting rid of them. Don't mean to sound elitest, but you do need a certain degree of technical savvy to succeed in this business.

    but we digress...

  17. #17
    Online Marketing Consultant
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    Quote Originally Posted by BG4512

    Get rid of hucksters selling out of the box affiliate sites to John Q. Idaho as work-at-home & get rich quick schemes and watch the affilaite support improve by leaps and bounds.

    I disagree, the work at home and get rich quick schemes play an important role in some of the programs. Not all of them but the ones that teach you to sell on ebay, or how to source product from your home then sell via e-outlets, etc... play a vital role in some of our programs.

    There are the ones which are obviously a wreck but getting rid of all of them will prevent some merchants from even taking a look at your program.

  18. #18
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    "I agree, but would add that a good network also meets the affiliates needs as well.

    I know I was quick to throw out Shareasale, but when you are not considering the individual merchant or the individual affiliates, they come to mind as the overall network that embodies what a good networks should be."

    Going to have to disagree with you on that, at least for now. They have two very important things for me. I trust the tracking and they pay on time. But I have the bar set a little higher and if I was to construct what a good network would look like, I would also want a nice clean interface and good reporting. So I'm holding off and looking forward to the upcoming changes next month that are going to be addressing that.

    But back to the original question. What makes a good affiliate network. As an affiliate and I'm pretty basic, I like:

    A good selection of merchants to choose from.
    A nice clean interface. Easy to get around and get links.
    I want to trust the tracking is working.
    I want good reporting.
    I want to get paid on time.

    The are the main things for me, the three most important to me are tracking, reporting, payment.

  19. #19
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    Geno, I hope you don't mind affiliates also contributing to this thread.. I agree with trust on several of his points.

    Here is my list of important factors in a good network:

    No 1 for me is a well designed, clean and user friendly interface. CJ have the perfect interface for me and every other networks interface to me feels way below the standard CJ have put in place in this area. In fact many of the other networks interfaces are so bad I can't even use the network. The interface needs to be carefully planned and professionally designed (not by one of the programmers), it must be fast to go from one place to the other but not feel tacky. It has to be clean, simple but have all the features there when needed. The colors, typography and style all have to play their parts in the over all aesthetics. Many of us are from graphic design, web designer backgrounds and I think networks forget that we often have to use this for several hours day sometimes and we need to be able to enjoy using it.

    My number 2 requirement although just as important as no1 is that links must be easy to get, I want to be able to get bulk links (not just one at a time), they must be clean and w3 valid and compatible with CSS & XHTML. Linkshare fail miserably in this area, the CJ linking system is also superior by miles than any other network and it also has a lot to do with their interface design. CJ offer so many options for links like size, text or banners etc which can all be easily accessed from a very slick and fast interface. Plus they have all the other things like Smart zones, products etc ...

    Just from those two points above, all other networks can learn a lot from CJ and should basically rebuild there websites because none come close to offering anything CJ can in these two extremely important areas.

    other requirements include:

    A good selection of merchants, brand names right down to unknown ones. Most of the major networks have this area covered so it's not really an issue.

    Reporting, The reporting forms should be easy to read and work out but must offer all the options needed for an affiliate to see all angles of where the sales, leads, clicks and impressions are coming from and going to... Linkshare & CJ are the best in this area but they could simplify this process further and make it much better than what they currently offer.

    Friendly, helpful and fast support, I have found Performics good in this area, they even respond to posts on this forum. AvantLink are also helpful, the other large networks and too slow & impersonal in this area.

    Tracking, I want to trust the tracking is working and I want the network to be anti parasites etc. I want to know every sale is been tracked correctly even if it doesn't go through or it is past the cookie date etc which Linkshare offer in their reports.

    Datafeeds, I want datafeed access to many merchants when needed but they must be consistent, updated frequently and uniform.

    I'm sure there is lots more I could add to this but lets just go with this...
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  20. #20
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    A network must LISTEN to its merchants and affiliates. A network rep sitting at a desk has no idea how it really is and what is really important. Most networks get so mired in their own politics between this "team" and that "team" that they lose sight of why they are even there to start with. This is precisely what sets SAS apart from many others and it is feedback like this that has lead to many of the new things that SAS has implemented in the past few years. Throw the ego out the door and return to Earth and make things better/easier/more efficient for those generating the income.

  21. #21
    Affiliate Network Rep Danny K's Avatar
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    Idaho is not a haven for get-rich-quick schemes. Cool - got it.

    I'm still learning about networks. But I have to say that the SAS arrangement is starting to make good sense and the protection affiliates feel seems apparent. Now, how do I add that fancy linking tool I dreamed up? There's got to be some-way to make RSS Show up on this bugger. (hegh hegh)

    The one that teaches so much they actually create affiliates from worthless bags of water.

    No, The one that pays so much to make all AM''s live like Rockstars all year long.

    Sorry, I kept writing things that seemed smart but then I read them and. well, my silly side won. But I still think there's wisdom in it :-)
    Danny K. - Network Administrator, Digital River- oneNetworkDirect.com, Email: dkautt@digitalriver.com

  22. #22
    Newbie portrait's Avatar
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    Wow!!! Thank you so much for answering my questions, guys!!!

    I was actually lost in space when I joined our company's Affiliate Marketing team. I was told to sign up our program on a given network, so I did. I was told to look for potential affiliates, and I did it. But amidst all of my responsibilities I want to have a guide so I would be able to reach my goal.

    Since I'm not that busy with our affiliates stuff, I turned my attention to the network where we are currently signed up and really thought for several nights if it was worth signing up to it. For this reason, I asked such question. And your answers to my query are highly appreciated.

    <Taking down notes...>

    Thanks to Geno for starting this thread...I owe you a lot pal

    portrait

  23. #23
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by portrait
    Thanks to Geno for starting this thread...I owe you a lot pal
    You don't owe me anything. This thread is good for all parties involved in the industry. Thank you for asking the right question.

    Geno

  24. #24
    Newbie portrait's Avatar
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    7-Days is just an advoate of ShareASale...and I guess everybody else are.

    All things said by Rick, CHECKED, for the network solution where we are currently signed up. What is at the top of my own answers is -- A NETWORK SHOULD PROVIDE A GOOD BRIDGE BETWEEN TRUSTED MERCHANTS AND EFFICIENT AFFILIATES IN TERMS OF JUST EVERYTHING. Affiliate Marketing should be a two-way traffic, thus a good network must provide for the continuous flow of information and others which will benefit both the affiliates and the merchants. Am I right?

    To Liquidate: Why is it that some networks sell their data feeds? Do you think it's worth buying those feeds?

  25. #25
    Online Marketing Consultant
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    You shoudl probably PM me instead of shouting out to me when you get privileges (spelled wrong)

    Before I rant and ramble, Yes it is worth buying the feed. However look to see if the merchant is on a nother network with the feed for free. You'll take the money away from the greedy ones and hopefully help get them to start caring for us more!

    Datafeeds can definitely be worth it for most types of sites, however if a network is charging the merchant, they should give it to the merchants affiliates for free, or vice versa. However, I think charging for it on either end is a bunch of crap because in the end datafeeds really do help to increase sales and make it a heck of alot easier to get products up on your page and updated with a lot less work.

    That is one of the reasons people are loving networks like SAS, Link Connector, I think Share Results and others who are allowing the use of these free. No fees for merchants and I believe there are no fees for affiliates either.

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