Don't Blame Affiliate Network for Not Growing Your Program

When I type in nearly any affiliate network‘s name, among the top suggestions I see [affiliate network]+”scam” search phrases:

This isn’t surprising.


Here’s a true story: two days ago I had a merchant approach me. The beginning of our dialogue could be condensed as follows:

Merchant: We are looking at promoting our e-business through affiliate marketing, but got burned on [X affiliate network]…

Me: [X affiliate network] is actually one of the best platforms around (in my opinion)…

Merchant: Funny you should say that [X affiliate network] is the best. We had no luck with them. When you say “platform”, that doesn’t mean they are the best affiliate or have the best publishers, right? You mean in terms of tools/admin, etc, right? After our experience with them, I’m gun shy and our agency is pushing us to [Y affiliate network]. Having no results with [X affiliate network] makes me gunshy…

Do you see the problem? Many merchants don’t, and I bet situations like this one — where merchant’s mistake affiliate networks for affiliate program management companies — significantly contribute to the popularity growth of those [affiliate network]+”scam” search phrases that I started with. Affiliate networks are not affiliate program management agencies. They are not hired to grow and manage your affiliate program. Simply put, they are platforms that provide merchants with such services as tracking, reporting, hosting of creatives and datafeeds, payments to affiliates, etc, but the vast majority of affiliate networks do not offer “affiliate management” services by default. Some provide them for an extra charge, while others do not even mess with it. To recruit affiliates into your program, manage the relationship with them, insure and monitor link placements, police and enforce compliance with your affiliate program’s Terms and Conditions… for all of these and much more you need an affiliate program manager. This could either be an in-house employee of yours, or an external agency, also known as Outsource(d) Program Managers (OPMs). But don’t expect your affiliate program to grow into anything big or successful if upon launching you just leave it running in an auto pilot mode.

4 thoughts on “Don't Blame Affiliate Network for Not Growing Your Program”

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  3. Thanks for this post Geno, I’m glad that such a respected affiliate program manager gets this fact that networks are not program managers. Got such an awful email today from someone I have actually been recruiting for for the last four weeks as she has a unique product set. Felt really disheartened.

  4. I’m an affiliate and the first sign to me to avoid any program that I am considering signing up with is a description that says something like,”Our Affiliate Program is managed by”. It tells me that this is an unmanaged program set to auto-pilot where there is no real management, no understanding of what they are in for, no terms or policies in place, no one checking and quite likely affiliates taking advantage of their naivety. I think that networks do a disservice to their clients when they don’t make sure that merchants understand the basics at least. It creates a situation where the merchant is unlikely to be pleased with their share of Performance Marketing and with a good chance of closing soon.

    Very good article, Geno. It is something basic that could make the difference for new programs.

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