Merchants: Why You Need To Partner With An Affiliate Network

Affiliate’s Point of View

I asked a few industry friends about working with merchants in and out of a network.

Lee Robertson of LGR says that when working with a merchant who uses an in-house affiliate solution, It can be faster to get special deals, (and) coupon codes. There seems to be a closer relationship with the in house affiliate managers. However, in-house programs lack… decent tracking.

Joe Sousa works with in-house programs only because they have something to offer that you can’t get through the network such as creatives, promotions, datafeeds, etc. Joe also mentioned tracking and trust regarding networks: I like the security of the networks. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll avoid in-house programs. If I can switch to in-house and get a bigger commission it can be worth the extra hassle.

Tricia Meyer from SunshineRewards.com reports problems with both tracking and payments when working with merchants & in-house programs. One of the biggest problems is that there is less accountability. With a network, I can have my rep check out their numbers… With an in-house program, I have no one else to advocate on my behalf.

Lee, Joe and Tricia all said they prefer working with a network versus an in-house program, thanks to regular payments, easier tracking, and programs / scripts that are already integrated with the network APIs.

Lee adds, I am more likely to promote a merchant that is a part of a network. It shows the merchant is serious about their program.

Merchant’s Point of View

To try to fully understand this topic, I asked a couple of OPMs the same questions.

Greg Hoffman of Greg Hoffman Consulting told me about moving a program from an in-house system to a major network:

The affiliates had never been communicated with; they had never been paid and they had no creatives. But with one text link, they had sold thousands of dollars worth of product. They happily changed all of their links to sign up with the new network because of the accountability and safety offered by the network. That program is thriving today.

Geno Prussakov, OPM with Affilinomics by AM Navigator, recommends merchants …start their very first affiliate program on a network, and, if it makes sense to migrate to an in-house platform in the future, do so later down the line. Geno has even written about this topic before, Network or In-House?

In-house affiliate programs certainly help save money on network fees and may seem to provide a greater degree of control, but it should be remembered that running a program inhouse will necessitate tracking software (self- or remotely hosted) or a shopping cart with affiliate features. Internal resources will also have to be made available to run reports, be accountable for all technical issues, and for paying affiliates.

I’m not going to get into what network is best for you (again, Geno wrote a piece on this published in FeedFront). Sometimes, one has a different advantage over another. And don’t believe the hype that affiliates will only work with certain networks: if they want to be in your program, they’ll join the network.

However, I am going to recommend that merchants running (or thinking of starting) an affiliate program seriously consider signing up with a network, who are experts in tracking, payments, and can act as a mediator between affiliates and merchants.

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  1. Clarence
    1936 days ago

    I take the opposite stand. When working directly with a company usally the affiliate makes more, and has closer access to the actually company. Affiliate Networks are larger and cookie stuff is rampant with major vendors.

    I personally prefer working with an in-house affiliate directly with the company vs a middle man network. If a company isn’t being fair or paying the affiliate community will here about it. Also you can find the same negative points on a network “lost commissions, incorrect reports, etc”.

  2. Mr. Tees
    460 days ago

    I vote for in house networks as there is more of a feeling of intimacy as though you are working more directly with the companies you affiliate with. Its extremely easy to feel lost in the shuffle on larger networks where programs and people are always being added and dropped.

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