What Is an Affiliate Marketing Network

​Affiliate marketing networks are an outgrowth of affiliate ​marketing popularity.

You may agree with me that it becomes difficult to find suitable affiliate programs and products because there are so many.

Even if you are new to marketing online, using an affiliate network makes it easy to find suitable products for your business niche.

Today I am going to show you how easy it is to use an affiliate network. Also, I will show the best 5 affiliate networks for beginners as well as experienced marketers.

But first,

An affiliate marketing network acts as an intermediary between publishers (affiliates) and merchant vendor affiliate programs. It allows website publishers and bloggers to ​easily find and participate in affiliate programs ​suitable for their website (and thus generate income from those programs)​.

Affiliate marketing was first popularized by the CEO of Amazon.com, where he recruited affiliates to post the links to Amazon’s books on their sites. The phenomenon has taken the world by storm today. With millions of people earning online through affiliate marketing, it just goes to show what a sound, workable model it is. Amazon’s success is a glaring example; with over 500,000 affiliate websites associated with Amazon’s program today.

Whether it is to earn a bit for extra cash on the side while studying for a degree or quitting their day job to make a career working online, people are increasingly becoming aware of the potential and opportunity of earning through these programs. They are attracted by the idea of using their blogs for a quick, and risk-free career.

best affiliate networks for beginners

​Some affiliate networks ask lots of questions of affiliates before approval.

​Hundreds of affiliate networks have popped up in recent years, making it effortless for just about anybody to enter the circle.

What ​Is an Affiliate Network?

An affiliate network is essentially a group of brands coming together in one place. These brands do not market directly, but instead, use third-parties for promoting their products to consumers.

This is an attractive option for a lot of brands for many reasons. For instance, they might not have the resources for building their own sales team or run big advertising campaigns.

An affiliate network acts as a ‘middleman,’ connecting bloggers, influencers or affiliate marketers with companies and brands that are looking to sell their products online.

A network lists ​all the affiliate programs run by the merchant, benefitting both the merchants and the publishers (affiliates):

  • ​It offers the publisher/blogger a wide variety of affiliate programs to choose from. Publishers can opt for programs best suited to their website/blog niche.
  • ​It offers a greater reach for the merchants offering affiliate programs by displaying and posting their program to all the publishers on the network.

​What is an Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is an arrangement between the merchant and the publishers, where the merchant pays the publishers to direct traffic to their website. The publisher does this by posting a unique link to the merchant’s website or product in their blog and makes a commission when anybody uses that link to purchase the merchant’s product.

The commission is mutually decided by the merchant and the publisher and is contractually binding through the signing of an agreement, where the payment and other terms are stated.

There are three parties involved in an Affiliate Program:

  • ​Merchant (vendor)
  • ​Affiliate Network
  • Publisher (affiliate)

​Affiliate networks charge a small fee to all the merchants and publishers participating. This fee varies on different networks.

How Does an Affiliate Network Work?

Wondering how an affiliate network works and makes money? It is a pretty simple model that drives all affiliate networks.

Sign Up - The merchants and publishers both sign up to the affiliate network. Once the application has been approved, the users can view the dashboard and have all the tools at their disposal. The merchant can now display their affiliate program on the network, and the publisher can survey it, and choose to participate in it.

Affiliate Link - The publisher posts the affiliate link, and if a customer clicks on the link, a unique ID is assigned to them, which identifies that the customer came through a particular affiliate link.

Purchase Made - If the customer makes the purchase on the merchant website, the networks record the purchase and details of the transaction.

Buyer Pays the Network - The ​buyer pays the network, as soon as the purchase is verified by the merchant.

Network Pays the Publisher - The network pays the publisher the designated commission and keeps an agreed fee for itself.

Note: Some affiliate networks do not process payments. Purchase payments are paid directly to the vendor. The vendor is responsible for paying commissions to the affiliates (publishers). JVZoo, until recently, was the a prime example.

What is the Best Affiliate Marketing Network for Beginners?

With so many options available, how do you decide what affiliate network to choose? There are some considerations that you should keep in mind while deciding on the best network for you.

Reputation - The number of years that a network has been in the game speaks of its credibility.  Big brands sign on only trust-worthy networks to promote their affiliate programs.

The better the rating and reputation of a network, the more chances that better-paying brands and merchants will feature their affiliate programs on there.

Payment Schedules and Options - Check out how consistent and punctual the network is with the payments. Some networks pay the publishers monthly, some pay bi-monthly, and some let you decide when and how often you want to get paid.

Do they only do bank transfers? Do they pay through checks or use PayPal? See what is most convenient to you and base your decision on that.

Number of Affiliate programs - Ultimately this should be your most significant consideration. How many affiliate programs the network is offering. If there is less variety, you might have to join multiple networks. So choose one which provides a wide array of affiliate programs to choose from.

The Top ​​5 Affiliate Networks

The top five affiliate networks, that are not the Amazon Associates program, are listed below:

ClickBank

ClickBank is one of the​ largest and most popular affiliate networks. ClickBank, was founded in 1998 and has been around for almost two decades. Named as the top affiliate network in 2011 by the Revenue Magazine, it has managed to make its name in the market.

ClickBank has a wide variety of products and affiliate programs to choose from for affiliates. It also provides tools that enable the merchant to tell the affiliate about their products, thus attracting and convincing them to promote their product.

ClickBank also provides Statistics about the merchants and product categories to appease those who want to know more.

ShareASale

ShareASale has been around for the same time as ClickBank and is one of the most widely recognized affiliate networks. It boasts of over 2500 affiliate programs and charges approximately $550 as merchant setup costs.

ShareASale is known for its honesty and transparency and is quick to pay earned commissions to its affiliates. It offers several benefits to its users, including merchants and publishers. The benefits include real-time tracking and quality management, as well as the facility of deep linking. Apart from that, ShareASale has excellent customer service and gives fierce competition to its competitors.

PeerFly

Launched in 2009, PeerFly is somewhat a newbie in the market. However, that doesn’t stop it from becoming one of the most preferred affiliate networks out there. In terms of quantity, PeerFly admittedly does not have a lot of programs, as compared to its competition. However, what PeerFly has to offer is significantly superior to others.

PeerFly is a CPA (cost per action) Affiliate Network, rather than the typical CPS (Cost Per Sale). How is this noteworthy? While other networks pay you when a customer makes a purchase, PeerFly can be used to make the customer take any action that the merchant desires; the ‘action’ doesn’t necessarily have to be a sale. So the publisher gets paid when a user downloads an ebook, signs up for a newsletter, or fills out a survey.

PeerFly has already gotten a lot of attention and was ranked as the second-best CPA network in 2016. It has gotten fantastic reviews and is expected to top the lists in the coming years.

JVZoo

JVZoo is a ​Software as a Service (SaaS) company that focuses ​on online or digital products. JVZoo facilitates and automates online sales, marketing, and delivery. ​Their network gives ​their partners the tools and solutions ​needed to run successful and profitable online businesses.

It is free to sign up and use JVZoo.  ​Their ​site design and signup process help facilitate and teach those who m​ay be ​new to affiliate marketing.

JVZoo has eliminated the risk of affiliates not being paid commissions owed. ​JVZoo recently introduced its "JVZooPay" system to its network. Previously, merchants were responsible for paying commissions since buyers paid the merchants directly.

​One merchant did not pay commissions owed to me. First of all, it was difficult to contact the merchant telling him I did not receive my commissions. It took six months to get paid.

rakuten affiliate network

​Rakuten offers special deals as incentives for shoppers.

Rakuten

Rakuten ​affiliate network offers the world’s largest selection of products and services. To date, our 12 million members in the U.S. have earned over $1 billion in Cash Back at their favorite stores. Buying eBates for $1 billon recently certainly added to the Rakuten totals.

Rakuten may not have the longest list of merchants. But some of the biggest retailers are included among the Rakuten merchants. Names like Kohl's, Walmart, Macy's, and Bed, Bath, and Beond to name a few.

Pros and Cons of Using an Affiliate Network

Pros 

  • ​The affiliate network takes care of the administrative duties for you. The affiliate doesn’t need to keep track of the visits and purchases and can leave all these tasks to the network.
  • ​The affiliate networks have good credit ratings. Thus there is a guarantee for publishers that they will get paid fairly. For the merchant, it is advisable to use an affiliate network, as it is easier for publishers to trust the programs on the network.
  • ​There is an abundance of affiliate programs on the networks for affiliates to choose from.

Cons

  • ​Some obscure affiliate networks might be scams, designed to trick affiliates into generating traffic but eating up their commissions.
  • ​The cost of joining an affiliate network is high for merchants, and some even charge a monthly fee, which sometimes deters entrepreneurs who don’t have big profit margins yet.

​Affiliate Marketing Network Summary

With affiliate marketing getting more and more popular, you too can​ consider dabbling in this quick and easy way of making money. Just do your research, pick out one or more of the affiliate networks that best suit your needs, choose the affiliate program that interests you, and start minting money!

If you have any questions or comments about the ​affiliate networks, please fill in and submit the form below. I love feedback. Please share.

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