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Choosing the right affiliate network

The Network Dating Game │ Who’s Right for You?


The cornerstone of your affiliate program is the network. It’s what helps track your sales, ensures partners are paid in a timely matter and is more important than you might think. The right affiliate network or provider for your affiliate channel is like dating; sometimes it might just be good for right now, sometimes it might not be the right fit, and other times, you’ve found “the one”. It’s an interesting game of trying to balance your needs and your desires for your program against what you might need to compromise on. For those new to the game and those looking to change it up, never fear, your friendly AIM team is here to provide guidance and to help steer you away from any potential bad dates.

 

To start, we need to first identify the two types of affiliate tracking providers out there:

Traditional Affiliate Networks:

(A.K.A. The One You Want to Bring Home to Your Parents)

Main players in the space since almost the start of affiliate marketing, traditional affiliate networks are what helped kicked the industry into shape. Staples such as Commission Junction, Rakuten Linkshare, and Awin grew as the space grew and are everything you are looking for in a partner:

  • They handle payments to partners, so you don’t have to (and in various currencies!).
  • Various teams to handle whatever issue may come your ways, such as a technical team and client support teams.
    Fun Fact: Did you know that AIM has a direct support team at most major networks? This means faster response times for the clients we work with.
  • Reports, Reports, and more Reports.

Traditional networks are also more hands-on and have the ability to help with whatever you need. Any negatives? They don’t have as much flexibility for custom reporting or features that you might be looking for. While they are catching up, due to their technology being built for the masses, reporting options are limited still in comparison to the other types out there. Which leads us to:

SaaS Tracking Platforms:

(A.K.A. The One You Can’t Wait to Tell Your Friends About)

These bad boys have been making a name for themselves in the past few years, including well-known platforms like Parternize and Impact. They operate the same as a traditional affiliate network but with the following key differences:

  • They are more hands-off – this means that you will either need a friendly agency (like AIM) to help manage your program or do it in-house (or both).
  • They have a ton of more options for reporting and tracking and are more able to customize these for you based on needs.
  • They have the ability to also do custom builds and additions for you. Anywhere from custom logic for pixels to custom tracking, you name it. If you want it, they can try and see if they can build it.

 

There’s not one network that is better at a vertical than another, it’s more about what you are looking for and your program’s needs. For example, a travel brand could work on both Commission Junction and Partnerize; however, what are the core things they are looking for? Moreover, would they get value by working with that network or would they not use half of the tools given to them?

Some key things to ask yourself when playing this dating game:

    • What are the core things I need for my affiliate program to run?
      • Is it supported Globally?
      • Do you need the ability to track attribution?
      • Do I need to track a multitude of data points?

Once you have identified that, you can start to trim down the candidates and really focus on what you absolutely can’t compromise for your affiliate program. Remember, this will be the platform that your partners will also interact with, so if you aren’t happy with it and how your program is going to be set up, there’s a good chance they won’t either.

After that, it’s time to look at the things that would be nice to have:

  • Do you like the idea of being able to blacklist coupon codes?
  • Do you want a strong publisher development team to help grow partners?
  • Does the idea of being able to see real-time clicks and orders make you giggle with joy?

Identifying these points will help you narrow your pool even further and be able to pick a winner for you.

If you’re still struggling to figure out the dating game, an agency can assist. Like AIM, many agencies have special relationships that help, and AIM team are certified and preferred partners on various networks. Think of an agency like your dating guru: we’ll be able to provide you with our recommendation on what network to launch or migrate to, as our experience helps us determine who would best compliment you.

Chat with us today to learn more about how we can help you find your soulmate network.


Erin brings 7+ years of experience working in the affiliate marketing space and has had the opportunity to work as a publisher and managing clients throughout her career, giving her a helpful and unique view when working with clients. In her career, Erin has worked with award-winning companies in the health and beauty, office supplies, and most notably, in the travel space.

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