Affiliates and Lead Gen

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Network

It can be a challenge to find the right affiliate network, particularly now that there are more quality options available. There are the ‘traditional’ networks such as Awin, CJ and Webgains as well as a host of SaaS (Software as a Service) providers with great technology. You can also encounter a challenge when the USP advertised with a network is similar to others, leaving questions around which path is right for your business. 

Here are five questions that will help you narrow down your options: 

Why do I need an affiliate network?

There are many reasons to work with a network: technology, recruitment, management, market insights, reporting, and billing. Without going into too much detail on tech, all of the largest publishers are already integrated with a network or SaaS, making recruitment to your programme easier. Networks and SaaS providers invest a lot in improving their technology (whether that’s cross-device tracking solutions, universal baskets, commissions based on more than a last click sale), and these developments may be out of reach when working directly with the publishers and using other reporting solutions. Networks tend to offer programme management (depending on your requirements), which can help with some of the day to day activities such as validations and reporting. Likewise there is now more technology in creating automated processes, removing a vast amount of manual processes.

Many clients like to benchmark themselves in the industry, and certainly the larger networks have a wealth of data to analyse and provide benchmarking and sector reports. From a brand protection point-of-view, you also can’t ignore the teams at all the networks doing checks to ensure a quality publisher base, and having fraud systems in place to flag fraudulent activity.

What is the best affiliate network?

The short answer here: there isn’t one. There may be a network you prefer, or a network you like the technology of, but having worked with numerous clients with varying business models and goals, there isn’t a one size fits all network. That’s actually a good thing. The best network is one that is a reliable network which is going to align with your business in all aspects, and it’s going to be part of an integrated relationship.

Should I go for a managed network or a SaaS provider?

This depends on

  • what you want from the channel

  • the support you need

  • the strength of your brand/programme and

  • whether you working with an agency.

At the moment, I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule as to which you should choose, but I think when considering a change of networks or launching a programme, both types (networks and SaaS) should be approached. There are strengths to both, and you need to ensure that, whatever your choice, they understand your business and work with it to help you achieve your business goals.

How do I ensure they are aligned with my business?

This is actually a simple answer: tell them about your business.

I know it seems self-explanatory, but very often businesses will only give a channel perspective i.e. we want to improve sales by xx% next year with affiliates. The more information you can give about your business, the challenges, the overall goals, even your values, the better responses you’ll get. Every business is unique in their aims and how they intend to work, and transparency removes the guesswork.

What do I need to consider in terms of cost?

You’ll need to weigh up override and set-up fees, initial offers (launch tenancies, CPA increases), staff to manage, internal or agency.

Before entering any review, while it is best to have a maximum budget to work toward, don’t disregard a network that comes in higher in terms of cost, particularly if they offer exactly what your business needs. I believe you’re more likely get more reward from a good relationship than the cheapest one.

My current network has loads of new technology, why would I move?

Before going out to find a new partner, engage in conversation with your network, and go through the current and future technology they have while also discussing how these developments are going to benefit your programme ongoing. Other networks will have a wealth of new technology and the developments filter across them, but you should consider if you’re paying for a premium service when really you only use the basics. 

Get in touch with our dedicated Affiliates team with any questions on choosing a network and in case you missed my last blog post, you can find it here

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