Affiliate networks are huge in the affiliate marketing space, as they serve as a broker, negotiator and ultimately collector for the money that you earn. Any person who has been successful in the affiliate marketing industry has probably started with an affiliate network before moving on to other avenues. But when you look at what an affiliate network really does, do you really need an affiliate network or are they just robbing you of your hard earned money?
PROS OF AN AFFILIATE NETWORK
First off, let me say that an affiliate network is the best platform for most affiliate marketers to use. Yes, they do take a cut of your money, but they do it for a good reason. In the long run, they actually end up saving you more money. Here is what they do for you.
If you go direct, you will often need to use the advertisers tracking platform, and many times, they are bottom barrel programs. If you go direct, they likely only have a few offers instead of hundreds, so using a system like Cake Marketing or LinkTrust would not be cost effective. While some networks have been accused of scrubbing, or removing leads, it is still the best way to go. Think of it this way. The affiliate networks only get paid when you drive conversions. They want tracking that is working properly and they want to keep you. If they scrub, you will find out if you can split test the offer with other networks. So, in the end, they don’t want to lose your business and it is the most risk adverse method to use.
Plethora of Offers
Going direct is time-consuming. You have to contact each advertiser personally, negotiate with them the terms of the offer and then take care of paperwork before you can start running. When you are with a network, all you do is go in and request the offer or just grab the links and start testing. So, the time that you save in this regard can make up for the amount of money that the network keeps. They do the legwork and you just get to concentrate on what you are good at, and that is getting people to take action.
The Ultimate Collector
Payment is a touchy subject in the affiliate network area lately, with many companies going belly up without notice, leaving publishers with thousands of dollars in lost income. Not at all networks are bad, and in fact, 99% of the networks out there will treat you like gold. But you always have to watch out for the shady networks. With that being said, you don’t have to worry about shady advertisers and collecting payments. When you work with a network, most have an entire department dedicated o collecting your money, unlike you. Most networks that are worth anything will pay you weekly if you generate enough income, and some even pay you weekly even if you don’t break the thousand dollar a week threshold. Advertisers will pay you Net 45 to Net 60, which means you have to wait up to 60 days after the end of the month the commission was earned in. Can you see the cash flow problem there?
CONS OF AN AFFILIATE NETWORK
Affiliate networks are a great source of offers and provide a ton of security for you, but there are some downfalls to working with a network as opposed to working directly with the advertiser. Here are some of those pitfalls.
One of the best things about dealing with the advertiser is that you can get clearance on landing pages and approved copy much faster than you could ever with a network. Also, while on that note, you will be able to get more things through simply because of your relationship with the advertiser. Many times, advertisers are also more willing to change or make a custom lander just for you if you are a big time affiliate.
As stated above, you will get more money when you work direct. Depending on the network that you work with, they can take a good portion of the offer money. It all depends on how much volume you give the network and what they negotiated with the advertiser. Sometimes, the affiliate network isn’t even a direct affiliate of the advertiser, so going direct can make you a lot more money if you are willing to take all the other risks and work into account.
Build Your Resume
If you are looking to build an agency or any other type of business, brand recognition is a great step in the right direction. Imagine trying to sell to an offline client your experience, but all you have ever worked with are affiliate networks that no one really cares about. Even worse, what if you tell your potential client you worked with an affiliate network and then they go off and sign with your old network? It can happen. If you are able to prove that you have worked with national brands in the past, companies will want to work with you immediately. That results in more sales for your company and better growth. If this is your end goal, then going direct is the next logical step.