Pros and Cons of Third Party Online Affiliate Networks


Online affiliate marketing has taken the internet by storm and has proven to be a highly effective way of maximizing website revenue. Why limit yourself to selling your own products when you can profit by selling somebody else's too?

There are thousands of individual affiliate programs offered on the internet, many being through third party affiliate program networks such as OffersQuest, Commission Junction and Linkshare. These companies connect a large number of advertisers and publishers together via their own network. Advertisers sign up through their network to have publishers promote their products and publishers sign up to access a large network of advertisers all at one location. In the process, the affiliate network makes a profit via advertiser set-up fees, monthly account maintenance fees, commissions, etc.

The question is, as a publisher, is it worth using these large affiliate networks or is it better to form direct partnerships with advertisers?

The Good
The primary selling point of third party affiliate networks is convenience. As a publisher, one registration gives you access to tens, even hundreds of advertisers simultaneously. Tracking partner performance is easy, there is only one technical support contact, things are easier and simpler to manage, and best yet, payment is received as one convenient monthly lump sum.

The Bad
Because as a publisher you're utilizing a service, advertisers who also offer a direct affiliate partnership will typically offer a lower commission for publishers who choose to partner with them through a third party network. This is because it costs advertisers money to use the services of a third party. Also, without naming names, some affiliate networks have been known for not tracking sales and leads properly as honestly as they could be (which means money from your pocket). Payment thresholds can often be fairly high - a $50 US minimum is common for international publishers. Finally, a payment delay of two months or more from the date of a sale/lead generation can occur, as the third-party affiliate network waits until the advertiser pays them, before they pay you (the publisher).

Conclusion
In many (if not most cases), having both options of partnering directly with an advertiser or through an affiliate network is not a choice - it's usually one or the other. If an advertiser you like only offers their affiliate program through a third party, you're limited to the advertiser network they've partnered with, or not partnering at all. Affiliate networks are not bad programs to use, just keep in mind the issues outlined above, and you'll be making money in no time!

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