Are Affiliate Program Directories Dying?

A few days ago Shawn Collins wrote a good post on recruiting targeted affiliates, in the comments to which I suggested several more me methods of affiliate recruitment. Among these methods I have mentioned affiliate program directories as one of the ways to get a word about an affiliate program out. I personally have never measured the success of recruiting affiliates through program directories. However, every time I do a comparative affiliate marketing analysis for a new client, I see affiliate program directories ranking extremely well in nearly every niche. Here’s an example:

Take “credit card affiliate program”  and variations of this key phrase, and you’ll see that  there is a total of over 5,000 people searching for these every month on Google:

When I search for this key phrase just now, here is what I see on the first page of matches (affiliate program directories are highlighted):

…and the same can be seen with nearly every [niche]+[affiliate program] key phase typed in (anywhere between 3 and 5 of the top 10 results belong to affiliate program directories).

Additionally, I see affiliate program directories having fairly good (and improving) Alexa rankings.

Back to Shawn Collins’ post. Commenting on my suggestions, a fellow-OPM, Debbie Carney challenged the idea that affiliate program directories carry much value in affiliate recruitment. She wrote that “even if affiliate directories show up in searches, I don’t think an affiliate has ever joined a program I run because of being listed in one.” Since I have never measured this myself, I have decided to put together a poll to find out what affiliates really think/do.

Here are the results of that poll as they look at the time of this post:

The above data made me conclude that affiliates are, after all, using them, but definitely not the majority of affiliates are.

Then last night when I got a hold of the new AffStat Report, another important piece of the puzzle was found. Here’s one of the pie charts from AffStat:

So, 18% of affiliates still do find out about affiliate programs to join from “affiliate directories”.

So, are affiliate program directories dying? Probably not.

If you haven’t yet voted on my above-quoted poll, I’d certainly love to have you cast your vote as well. Many thanks in advance.

10 thoughts on “Are Affiliate Program Directories Dying?”

  1. I think directories are an archaic means for finding affiliate programs, but I suspect newer affiliates are using them, since they turn up high in the search engines.

  2. Shawn, do you by any chance have AffStat data on this very question from previous years (especially from the original one that was released in 2003)? It would be really interesting to see the data on affiliate directories usage from earlier years.

  3. I totally agree with Shawn, affiliate directories are great for newer affiliates however anybody who is looking for a 2nd or 3rd affiliate program I believe will do a search for a certain niche/vertical.

  4. Another way to look at “affiliate directories” is to include “directories within the networks themselves” into the definition (see Adam’s comment to my above-quoted poll)

  5. Affiliate directories may be looked at by many newbies, but I would suspect that very few people actually use them join a program.

    For myself I used to, and still do, search “niche”+”affiliate program” or when I come across a product I like I will check if there is an affiliate program associated.

    Now that is probably not very time frugal but its fact. I think (like to think I am not too abnormal) most newbies do that.

    Anyhow just my two cents worth.

  6. Hi Geno –

    I didn’t ask the same questions each year, and one of the years was focused on affiliates, similar to this year.

    I may pull together some sort of historical comparison in the future.

  7. @ Scott: It looks like 18% of all AffStat respondents still do sign up through them.

    @ Shawn: Gotcha. A historical comparison (however brief) would be fascinating to see some time in the future.

  8. Pingback: Affiliate Solutions and Refer-it 10 Years Later

  9. Interesting post, Geno!

    In the 12 years I’ve been internet marketing and affiliate marketing full-time, I’ve never visited an affiliate program directory nor ever heard one of our JV partners mention one.

    When advising the people I mentor, I have them start by promoting the prodcts and services they themselves use, then find products relevant to their niches through ClickBank.

    By the time an affiliate is making 6 or 7 figures a year, we’re so deluged by people asking us to promote their products we can’t possibly even consider them all, never mind go looking for other products to promote.

  10. Doug, it sounds that (a) like most successful affiliates you do not have a deficit of merchant offers, and (b) you mostly work with ClickBank, and therefore only use their internal directory of programs/products. That’s a good approach too. But sometimes you just cannot find a product/service suitable for your niche within one given affiliate network. A good idea then would be to search internal directories of other affiliate networks (Commission Junction, LinkShare, ShareASale, etc).

    In the meantime, it’s interesting to note that we’ve had some 44% more votes come in since the time of this post, and the pie chart has changed a bit (not drastically, but it shows that 50% of affiliates do use affiliate directories at one point of time or another). Here’s how the distribution of votes looks now:

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