Affiliate Networks are Not Affiliate Managers

There is a book co-authored by Dave Chaffey, Richard Mayer, Kevin Johnston and Fiona Ellis-Chadwick, and entitled Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In the chapter on Traffic Building the authors spend some time talking about affiliate marketing. One thing that jumps right at me is the following statement:

To manage the process of finding affiliates, updating product information, tracking clicks and making payments, many companies use an affiliate network or affiliate manager such as Commission Junction or Trade Doubler. (p. 388)

The authors also show the following graph to illustrate “the affiliate marketing model”:

The affiliate marketing model

It seems that there is a bit of an inconsistency between the quoted sentence and the figure. In the above-quote statement, the words “affiliate network” and “affiliate manager” are used interchangeably (and both affiliate manager and affiliate network’s responsibilities are bundled together); while the graph is bit closer to the truth, saying that it doesn’t have to be an affiliate network, but the whole system may be managed by an independent affiliate program (not “network”!) manager. But even with the graph, there is no explanation of scenarios when an affiliate program is run on a network, but managed by an affiliate program manager, and I really wish the authors elaborated a bit more on the topic of program management.

The problem is that many merchants really confuse affiliate networks for affiliate managers, whereas in the vast majority of situations these are different participants of the process. See a more detailed explanation of the differences in my “Affiliate Networks, OPM Companies, Transaction Fees, and Performance Bonuses” post, as well as in this month’s FeedFront magazine (in my “Choosing an Affiliate network” article on page 32).

Reference: Chaffey, D., Ellis-Chadwick, F., Mayer, R., & Johnston, K. (2006). Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice.

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