Affiliate Marketing in the USA: Market Size by Number of Programs

According to Forrester Consulting, the U.S. affiliate marketing industry is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2020, with more than 80% of brands utilizing this potent way of marketing, but how many affiliate programs are out there? This very question came to me from an industry friend earlier this morning and, apparently, he isn’t the only one wondering. You will find the same question on the list of the most popular affiliate marketing questions asked on Google too:

What companies use affiliate marketing?

Having found no published information on this, but possessing access to affiliate accounts on all major affiliate networks in the USA, I have decided tackle this question myself and analyze the US affiliate marketing landscape from this particular angle. As a result, I’ve extrapolated data on the number of affiliate programs on each network, which I would like to present to you today.

U.S. Affiliate Programs (by Network/Platform) 

Setting the advertiser’s country as the USA, or (whenever the former was not possible) filtering programs by the brand’s shipping region/geography (setting the same at the United States), we’ve gathered the following data. The list was last updated on 12/14/2018 with the green check-mark (indicating the data explicitly confirmed by the respective affiliate network’s representative.

AvantLink: 695 US affiliate programs 

Awin (formerly Affiliate Window): 320 

CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction): 1,709 

Impact (formerly Impact Radius): 458

LinkConnector: 350 

Rakuten Marketing Affiliate (formerly LinkShare): 1,412

Pepperjam (once eBay Enterprise Affiliate Network): 508

ShareASale: 5,594 [source]

Webgains: 175

In-house Programs: ~400

TOTAL: ~11,400

To read these numbers with proper perspective, two important caveats must be kept in mind:

In-House Based Affiliate Programs

There are many U.S. brands that do not belong to any affiliate network. Examples of these range from such e-commerce giants as Amazon (that runs its famous Amazon Associates affiliate program), eBay (that works with affiliates through its own eBay Partner Network), and iTunes (with their own affiliate program), to numerous other merchants in various niches (e.g.: HubSpot and AWeber in the SaaS vertical, DreamHost and SiteGround in hosting, James Allen in diamonds, AliExpress in electronic retail, ETX in trading, and many more).

iTunes affiliate marketing program
Example of an in-house based affiliate program

It is hard to estimate the exact number of such “in-house based” affiliate programs in the U.S. For the purpose of the above calculation we put that number at 400; though it may, very well, be larger than this.

Multi-Platform Affiliate Programs

Some brands run affiliate programs on more than one affiliate network (or technology platform). Shutterstock, for example, has affiliate programs on Impact, Admitad; and they are definitely not the only brand that does this.

Fanatics affiliate marketing programs
Example of a multi-network affiliate program

In light of this, in order to arrive at an absolutely accurate number of unique affiliate programs, one would need to perform some deduplication within the above-quoted numbers. Having said this, we do not believe these “duplicates” to account for more than 3% of the above-presented total.

To summarize, we believe it is safe to assume that more than 11,000 (eleven thousand) U.S. brands dabble with affiliate marketing, running around 11,400 affiliate programs.

If you have any input on this topic – whatever tool, experience, or system your thoughts may be based on – it would be greatly appreciated, and I encourage you to submit it using the “Comments” area below.

Disclosure: If you click some of the links in this post, and convert into a customer, I may be compensated for this. Regardless, I only recommend products and services that I use personally and believe to be of value.

6 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing in the USA: Market Size by Number of Programs”

  1. Those are great stats for the major networks, but I think the estimation should be doubled with all the smaller networks/platforms out there creating small programs.

  2. For CJ if you look at any advertiser’s EPC rankings on their dashboard it compares it to all other advertisers’ EPC ranking on the network. As of today, advertiser program EPC rankings are compared to 2904 other programs on the network. So CJ has 2904 programs with some sort of EPC ranking. The actual number of programs is likely somewhat higher since new programs typically take 3 months of sales to show EPC data.

  3. Here’s what I see: 2,723 as the total number of advertisers on CJ today

    CJ affiliate programs

    If, however, you narrow your search down to US-based affiliate programs in the respective filter…

    United States on CJ

    The search returns 1,483 results.

    USA affiliate programs on CJ

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