For some reason, in one of the niche’s I’m in, over half of the merchants that have affiliate programs decided to use (or create) an in-house system, avoiding networks. While there may be some benefits to using an in-house system (such as avoiding network fees & overhead), I think in the long run, merchants will have greater success with their affiliate program if they use a network.
Networks not only handle the tracking and payments for an affiliate program, but they also act as the policemen, making sure affiliates are not defrauding merchants, and that merchants are not cheating affiliates out of their commissions.
But when an in-house program is used, affiliates must assume that what is reported in the tracking reports is accurate, and hope they get paid on time.
Lately, that hasn’t been the case for one particular merchant I’m promoting. Tracking is way off and completely inaccurate (for example, they tried to tell me I sold -40 subscriptions last month (that’s negative forty. When I questioned this, they sent over a new report with new numbers, but insisted the payment was not affected)). In addition, payment was late this month.