Yesterday I read an article on Adotas.com where the author wrote:
Affiliate marketing programs can be set up in two ways: create an individual program or work with an affiliate network… Running an individual affiliate program requires the company to keep in direct contact with the affiliates, maintaining complete control of the program. However, it also requires staffing and managing the program, recruiting affiliates, providing a secure online interface for affiliates to access data feeds and track their performance, and processing the payments to affiliates…
Working through an affiliate network will alleviate some of the burden associated with managing the program. By creating an account with an affiliate network, companies only need to load their products into a catalog and watch the sales roll in.
In principle, the differentiation between the two ways of running an affiliate program is outlined correctly, but the last of the above two paragraphs sounds like an affiliate network will take care of most of the program’s management and affiliate recruitment for you. While some affiliate networks may be providing recruitment and program management services (be it as a part of their default package, or as an additional service), most affiliate networks do not. In fact, it is precisely the above perception/misconception that often leads into the problems of auto-piloted programs [more here].
I must warn merchants from presupposing that once you’ve started an program on an affiliate network, loaded your creatives and product feed, you can just sit back “and watch the sales roll in”. You need to keep a close eye on your program. In most cases you need to do your own affiliate recruitment, as well as policing of inappropriate (and/or unethical) affiliate behavior.