What is an affiliate network?

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between publishers (affiliates) and merchant affiliate programs. It allows website publishers to more easily find and participate in affiliate programs which are suitable for their website and allows merchants to reach a larger audience by promoting their affiliate programs to all of the publishers participating in the affiliate network.

Affiliate networks are often international companies who run hundreds or even thousands of affiliate programs ongoingly. They have often thousands or even tens thousands of affiliates that are participating in campaigns and large teams of affiliate managers and advertiser account manager that are offering support to various sides and are monitoring and optimizing affiliate programs daily.

Traditional affiliate networks enable merchants to offer publishers a share of any revenue that is generated by the merchant from visitors to the publisher’s site, or a fee for each visitor on the publisher’s site that completes a specific action (making a purchase, registering for a newsletter, etc.).

For merchants, affiliate network services and benefits may include tracking technology, reporting tools, payment processing, and access to a large base of publishers.

For affiliates, services and benefits can include simplifying the process of registering for one or more merchant affiliate programs, reporting tools, and payment aggregation.

Affiliates are generally able to join affiliate networks for free, whereas there is generally often a fee for merchants to sign up.

Traditional affiliate networks might charge an initial setup fee and/or a recurring fee. It is also common that affiliate networks charge merchants a percentage of the commissions paid to affiliates.

Read more: Affiliate marketing explained

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