The Versa Blog

Selecting an Affiliate Network or Tracking Platform

July 5, 2012

Selecting a tracking platform is one of the first tasks in launching an affiliate program.  There are multiple options available to advertisers based on the type of affiliate program.  The two main options are a direct/internal program or a third-party affiliate network.  Below is a brief description of these.

Internal or Direct Affiliate Program

An internal or direct program is run on affiliate tracking software that is purchased by the advertiser.  Advertisers can recruit and approve affiliates directly without needing the network to approve the affiliate first.
Fee Structure
Generally an advertiser will pay a flat monthly fee for the use of the affiliate tracking software.
Tracking Platform Examples

  • HasOffers
  • Direct Track
  • Impact RadiusAffiliate Tracking Platforms

Many shopping carts also have affiliate tracking capabilities built into them.

Third-Party Affiliate Network

This type of program is run on an affiliate platform that is part of a larger affiliate network.  An affiliate network will have hundreds of advertisers and thousands of affiliates utilizing the platform thus creating the “network”.
Free Structure
The following fees are assessed by affiliate networks for the use of their platform.
Launch fee
Monthly minimum fees
Network access fees (charged as a percentage of sales generated or percentage of affiliate commissions paid)
Fees for additional network capabilities (product data feed, additional media, item-based commissions, etc.)
Affiliate Network Examples

  • Commission Junction
  • AvantLink
  • ShareaSale
  • LinkShare
  • Buyat
  • Google Affiliate Network

Affiliate Neworks

When Versa Marketing begins working with a client we review the goals, strategy and positioning of the program to make the proper affiliate tracking platform selection.  Once the review is complete we select an internal/direct platform, a third-party affiliate network or both.  More often than not, our recommendation is to launch in a third-party network.  The reason is because third-party networks are known entities which affiliates trust and are accustomed to working with.  A direct program presents another sign-up process for the affiliate and new platform to learn.  Those additional steps create a barrier to affiliate recruiting.  On the flip-side we do recommend running a direct program in tandem with a network program for many of our clients.
Below are a few pros and cons for the network platforms.

Direct Affiliate Program

Pros
Lower cost for the advertiser
No need for an affiliate to be approved by a network to work with your program
Good for cultivating non-affiliate partner relationships into formalized affiliate relationships
Cons
Low adoption from professional affiliates
Harder to recruit affiliates

Affiliate Network Program

Pros
Trusted network
Network already houses thousands of affiliates ready to work with your program
Easier recruiting
Cons
Slightly higher cost
Affiliates need to be approved by the network prior to working with your program
Versa Marketing is very adept at selecting the right affiliate track platform for each advertiser in order to create a successful program.  We have years of experience working with both direct platform and third-party networks.  Contact us if you need assistance in the launch of your affiliate program.
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