Do Affiliates Prefer Network-Based or In-House Affiliate Programs?

Back in March I wrote my Run Affiliate Program In-House or on Affiliate Network? post where I answered the “network vs in-house software” question from the merchant perspective. Yesterday (May 11) I’ve had a pleasure of interviewing one of the original developers of a famous affiliate program software, which led me to think of affiliate preferences (if there are any). We can talk all we want about the convenience to the merchant, but what do affiliates prefer?

Based on the data revealed by Econsultancy’s 2009 U.S. Affiliate Census, affiliates work with both network-based, and in-house-operated affiliate programs, but there’s an obvious cling to the networks:

Do affiliates work with in-house affiliate programs?

Do affiliate work with in-house affiliate programs?

Econsultancy summarized that roughly “two-thirds of affiliates (68%) work with at least one merchant that runs its own in-house” affiliate program “compared to just under a third of affiliates (32%)” who said that they prefer not to work with merchants directly (italics mine).

Affiliate Summit’s 2010 AffStat Report, which worded its related question somewhat differently, discovered further data on affiliate preferences. It was reported that 47.4% of affiliates favor network-based affiliate programs versus 14% who prefer in-house programs, while the remaining 38.6% were reported not to have any stringent preferences:

Network-based vs in-house affiliate programs

From the above-quoted survey data it appears that affiliate preferences are split roughly 50/50, but there are affiliates (at least 1/3) who do not work with in-house affiliate programs at all. From my discussions with individual affiliates, it seems that much of this decision is tied to payment-related questions.

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