Should you launch your Affiliate Program on Multiple Networks?

How to launch an affiliate program
By @MaxKabakov / purchased from DepositPhotos.com

What Are The Benefits & Negatives of Multiple Affiliate Networks?

A common question for Merchants who are new to Affiliate Marketing is “Should I launch my Affiliate Program on multiple Affiliate Networks?”.  There are many reasons why Merchants may think launching Affiliate Programs on Multiple Networks may be a good idea, but there are also some ones they may not have thought of.  Some Merchants think that each network has an amazing amount of Affiliates that they won’t have access to if they don’t launch there and this is a way to get them.  Other times it is because they have a network that is niche and can have a large group of partners that are all targeted to their audience and can add value.  In that case, a second program could actually be a good thing.

The other time I could see a multiple network approach is if you have a large existing program and you do a ton of outreach.  A traditional network has a flat fee whether you have recruited the partner or not.  Others like Impact Radius have separate fees based on if you brought the Affiliate in vs. they were already an Affiliate within the Network so you didn’t recruit them in and the Network helped you get them.  Besides these two examples, I cannot think of another reason why you would need a second Network or Multiple Affiliate Networks for your Affiliate Program.  There are very few Affiliates that won’t join the network you are in if you can pitch them well enough and work on them.   If you have other reasons, please feel free to share them below.

Below are some of my thoughts behind launching Affiliate Programs on Multiple Affiliate Networks and some of the questions I get from new Merchants and some Merchants with existing programs about launching their Affiliate programs on multiple Affiliate Networks. 

Questions and Answers About Multiple Network Affiliate Programs

I want access to every Affiliate out there and launching Affiliate Programs on Multiple Networks will give me that access.

Sure, some networks will have some Affiliates that others don’t.  However it is the job of your Affiliate Manager or Outsourced Affiliate Management Company to find and recruit those Affiliates for you.  That is what you are paying your Affiliate Manager for.  The other thing that you may and probably will find with launching your Affiliate Program on multiple Affiliate Networks is that you’ll get many of the same exact Affiliates applying on both.

What will my current Affiliates think if I launch my Affiliate Program on Multiple Networks?

You may now have your Affiliates getting confused since your program is everywhere.  They have to keep track of which offers you have, where they should pull a datafeed from and what commissions may be offered and where.  Sometimes Affiliates will see a second or third network launching as a sign that the Merchant is moving networks and this could cause fear.  ‘

If you have a Blogger that has a hundred posts with your links in them, this could be a nightmare to have to change them out.  They are busy creating new content and having to find and replace links is scary since this is additional work for them.  This could result in them changing everything out to Amazon since that may be a more stable option in their minds and everything is right there so they won’t have to change links again.  This is some Affiliates but not all.  You should offer help in changing out links if you want to move them or let them know that you are on multiple networks and everything will remain the same so they shouldn’t worry.

What tech problems could I have if I launch my Affiliate Program on Multiple Affiliate Networks? 

The technical aspects of launching Affiliate Programs on Multiple Affiliate Networks are actually fairly easy.  You need to tweak your tracking pixels so that the sale doesn’t fire into all of the networks that have a cookie set and if you have Affiliates in all of the networks and they have multiple cookies set, that they don’t get credit for the sale multiple times.  You’ll also need to keep track of who is in which network so that you can help prevent this from happening.

What happens if Affiliates join my program in Multiple Affiliate Networks? 

This one is pretty easy.  You need to let them choose which network and tell the the benefits of working with each.  Share a Sale, Avantlink and Impact Radius have great tools for content sites that could help them drive more sales while other networks have options for other types of partners.  The trick is recommending which ones are the best for each Affiliate and then double checking that they are in only one.  You can do this by pulling your active Affiliates and comparing the lists so you know who is in which program and then let them choose one.

You can undo some of the confidence you built with your Affiliates by launching your Affiliate Program on Multiple Affiliate Networks.

Some networks like Share a Sale have tools like the Share a Sale Leapfrogging tool that can split commissions, attribute back to the original referrer or do a ton of other things to make sure everyone is paid fairly for their traffic.  By launching on another network, if your pixel isn’t set up or you cannot set up this type of payout system across networks, you could lose their confidence and they could potentially lose some of their sales.

If the network that has commission splitting is not the final click, the security you put in place for the Affiliates in the first network no longer exists since the other Affiliate Network may be able take credit for the sale and all of the original partners could lose their commissions.  One good thing if you can split across multiple networks is that if the second network has a lower fee for Affiliates, everyone will get paid and you will spend less on network fees.  Again, this depends on your tracking and your ability to payout across multiple networks which may be possible if you collect IDs, the time and date of the click, etc…  The downside to this is if you cannot find a tech solution to handle this across the networks, your original Affiliates may start to lose their commissions and then stop adding you to new posts or move on since they are not performing as well as they had before.

This network says that they have over XYZ Affiliates so I need to launch my Affiliate Program on a Second Network.

This is a huge pitch and can make it seem like a smart choice to launch your Affiliate Program on Multiple Networks.  Before you do launch your Affiliate Program on a second Affiliate Network, disect the number and ask for a response and some examples.

Here is what you may want to ask:  (I’m using a made up number to make the math easier)

  • Out of the 100,000 Affiliates, how many are in my niche and content sites or whatever type of sites you want to get from the network? (answer is 1,000)
  • Out of these 1,000, how many drive more than 100 sales per month across other merchants?  (answer is 100)
  • Out of the remaining 100, how many will you put me in contact with and do you honestly think will join?
  • Can you send me an example of two or three of them?

Once you know what the actual market is and with the types of sites you want, now you can make an educated decision on if the potential good outweighs the negative or if you should continue to put effort into recruiting them yourself to the network you are already on.

Should I offer higher commissions when I launch an Affiliate Program on Multiple Networks? 

This is a definite no.  If your old Affiliates see that there is a higher commissions they may get offended that you didn’t offer it to them.  It might make them change networks and you are now spending more for each sale you would have had already at the lower commissions.  If the second Affiliate Network can provide value and new partners, they should be able to perform with the same payouts as the other Affiliate Networks.

What happens if I launch my Affiliate Program on multiple Affiliate Networks and I notice some Affiliates stop promoting me? 

One thing that has happened in the past is that some programs launch their Affiliate Programs on a Second Affiliate Network because they are going to move their program and change networks.  Some Affiliates might think that this is what you are doing even if it is not what you are doing.  If they don’t want to deal with changing links, they may change links out or stop adding you to their sites.  If you are not planning on changing networks and you are only launching your Affiliate Program on a second Affiliate Network, let them know if they ask.  You can let them know the commissions will be the same and give them the reason you are launching your Affiliate Program on a second Affiliate Network.  You might get some great feeback, both good and bad, about launching your Affiliate Program on a second Affiliate Network so don’t be afraid to listen to what they have to say.

I’m going to start off by launching my Affiliate Program on Multiple Networks and which ever one performs the best is the one we will keep. 

Affiliate Programs take a long time to take off.  If you have one network where there are trademark bidders or more coupon sites ranking for url + coupons, they may appear to be the winner since it could be instant traffic and sales.  However, your content sites, PPC Affiliates and others that could take a while to get going didn’t get a chance to get going with you, have time to set up their sites or have their posts rank in the search engines to start driving traffic.  The other thing to think about is that some of the partners who can take credit through the shopping cart could be overwriting sales coming from a different network meaning you don’t know which network actually was performing if the commission is being given on the last network click.

If you go based off of which network was better after X amount of time, you have to hope that your partners that have a ton of links throughout their content are able to change links to the new network and you’re going to have to hope they have time to actually change out their links.  This could cause you to lose a lot of partners that would have been great to have over a long time and now may not want to work with you since you’ve created even more work for them.

Should I launch my Affiliate Program on a second Affiliate Network or Multiple Affiliate Networks?

There are both benefits and risks to launching an Affiliate Program on a second Affiliate Network or multiple Affiliate Networks.  I went over two of the benefits and a few potential risks that you could have.  The thing you should think about is what is right for your business, what will cause the least amount of worries for your current Affiliates and if this is something that you have to do.  I have rarely ever recommended launching an Affiliate Program on multiple Affiliate Networks for many reasons, but in some cases it can make sense.  If you have any other good reasons to launch an Affiliate Program on multiple Affiliate Networks or reasons why you should not launch an Affiliate Program on multiple Affiliate Networks, please feel free to share them below.

*Image bought from DepositPhotos.com.

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5 thoughts on “Should you launch your Affiliate Program on Multiple Networks?”

  1. Hey thanks for the advice here. I had been considering launching on multiple networks eventually and now I’m not going to even worry about it!

  2. This is so helpful, thank you! I’m just considering using affiliates and am still investigating… You mention fees that affiliate networks charge. I have seen some with and some without fees.

    The one I saw without fees said that no “reputable” affiliate network would charge fees.

    What’s your opinion on this? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Jocelyn,

      That’s a great question. If you are an affiliate there should be zero fees for you. The merchant or offer pays the fees and pays the networks. You should only be making money. My personal opinion is that if the network charges you a fee at all, move onto the next one. You do not need them.

      Adam

  3. Hi,

    Great article. Say if you are working with and managing multiple networks and one network catches wind and finds out via their publisher that they are getting higher pay for the same program on another network? How do you advice to handle that awkward situation since based on performance some pubs may get higher payout according to their network performance? But in this scenario it’s the same pub working on 2 different networks?

    Standard flat rate usually but in some case pubs get special payout increase based on performance. This differs from network, Geos, verticals etc

    Any best practice or rule of thumb how to handle that and solve that issue moving forward?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Thanks Clement. Great question. First I don’t recommend multiple networks, but if you’re stuck with them you’re stuck.

        I tell them it is my program and my company and I can do as I wish and give the offers I wish.
        If they want to get a better offer or equal offer to the second network I ask what value they will provide and guarantee. If they will deliver it then why not give it to them? It could be access to specific publishers, transparency or lower network fees to make up for the difference in commissions or discounts.

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