Affiliate Networks Provide Infrastructure. Management is Separate

I got an email from a prospective client who wrote:

We have an existing program on [Affiliate Network Name here] for our ecommerce company called [Advertiser’s Name here] but are looking to outsource affiliate recruitment.

After digging a little deeper, it got apparent that this advertiser believes (and expects) the network to take care of everything related to affiliate program’s maintenance but affiliate recruitment.

This is a common misconception. I addressed it a couple of years go in this post, but let me revisit the topic today.

Affiliate networks normally provide merchants with the infrastructure to run an affiliate program (taking care of tracking, reporting, hosting creatives and feed(s), taking care of 1099s, and paying affiliates). Affiliate management, however, is something that is not provided by (the vast majority of) affiliate networks by default. Besides the affiliate recruitment mentioned above, affiliate management, also entails affiliate activation (in most cases, over 80% of “recruited” affiliates remain stagnant), policing affiliate compliance with your TOS and policies, communication channel support, and ongoing program optimization (based on competitive intelligence, replicating what has worked well for you before, as well as relying on your affiliate program manager’s expertise and advice).

5 Pillars of Affiliate Program Management

So, unless your contract with the affiliate network explicitly presupposes affiliate program management activities, do not expect them to take care of them. Hire an affiliate manager (or outsource the management)!

1 thought on “Affiliate Networks Provide Infrastructure. Management is Separate”

  1. High on my list of “Reasons NOT to sign up with a Program” is the line in the application that says “our program is managed by (whatever) Network” because it tells me that this is a program that is not managed at all. It further tells me that the merchant does not know what they have opened themselves up to and has a good chance of failure before too long.

    When I read that “although this merchant has not added any terms, the network terms still apply” – so, OK, I don’t need to worry about competing with spammers, duh – but by not specifying any terms, it means that all kinds of other, less than beneficial activities are permitted. Hold on to your hat.

    Regardless of the commissions, EPC, the products, the merchant’s site layout and checkout details, any other thing that would make this a desirable program to join loses its appeal.

    The best way a new program can learn -FREE- is to sign on to the network as an affiliate, search for similar programs to join. Do not actually join any programs, but it lets you take a look at the terms that other programs have added so you can get an idea of the things you are opening yourself up to before it is too late.

    You can spend an awful lot of time learning all about what the terms mean and why they have been added or you can hire someone who already has spent the time to learn. Your call.

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