Do Affiliates Drive $230 Billion in Sales to Top 1000 US e-Retailers?

Posted on9 CommentsCategoriesAffiliate Program Management, Online Marketing

Have you heard of the Internet Retailer’s new Top Tech 2014 Guide yet? This is an eBook based on their 2012 research of “the leading solutions providers to America’s top 1,000 retailers.” Among the providers analyzed they also looked into “affiliate marketing vendors” used by North America’s leading 1,000 e-retailers. They have ranked these based on “the combined 2012 online sales figures” of their “clients ranked in the Top 1000.”

Do not mistake these for affiliate-driven sales (which originally surprised me in this table). They were total online sales for each network’s IR Top 1,000 clients. Here’s the chart:

2012 Top Affiliate Marketing Vendors

It is interesting to see that some 98.9% of all above-quoted 2012 sales, or nearly $232 billion, were placed with online stores that have their affiliate programs on the top 5 networks: Commission Junction ($137.4b), LinkShare ($43.9b), Google Affiliate Network ($37.9b), eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network ($9.3b), and ShareASale ($3.3b). With Google Affiliate Network out of the game now, we should really be taking “top 4” and not “top 5” now.

9 thoughts on “Do Affiliates Drive $230 Billion in Sales to Top 1000 US e-Retailers?

  1. I wonder where Amazon falls on this list, with their own in-house network? IF Amazon does $61b in net sales, and just 5% are affiliate-driven sales, that puts them at #6, right? But I don’t think Amazon reveals any figures about their affiliate (associates) program, do they?

    1. I don’t believe they do, Eric.

      However, you bring up a very good point (about them leaving Amazon out). With AMZN owning some 1/4 of all U.S. online sales, and having one of the oldest and most developed affiliate programs out there, the overall number should be at least 25% higher with them included.

      BTW, where does the 5% (as far as “affiliate-driven sales”) comes from? I’ve heard 20%-40% before.

  2. So did mine, Ali, when I initially saw the table. But then when you realize that (a) these are not affiliate sales, and (b) some of them are, actually, double-counted (if you add up the above-quoted ones, you will arrive at $234.37b whereas we know that in 2012 online sales amounted to $225.5b, and the IR’s table is missing Amazon’s $61.1b) – probably because many merchants run affiliate programs on multiple networks/platforms – it makes it a pretty confusing table.

  3. Interesting data. Another thing to consider is that some of the advertisers are on more than one network/platform. I am not sure how they account for this in their numbers – especially if they are running their top partners in a private program on one platform and running the long tail on a public network. I am looking forward to revised 2013 numbers without GAN. Also, the person compiling this data doesn’t quite get it – since they included Gen3 as a “vendor”.

  4. Hello Geno,
    I am a little confused reading diferent articles regarding the affiliate channel in e commerce. I am trying to figure out a reasonable estimate for the US online shopping market:
    1. How many $B are being sold via affiliate program in 2014?
    2. What is the estimate revenue paid in 2014 to affiliates?

    My guesstimation is :
    1. $50B – $80B
    2. $3B – $5B
    Does it make sense?
    Thanks
    Gadi Shvadron

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