Recently we were asked “which is the best affiliate network?”. We’ve used all of them and in this blog post I’m going to make both an affiliate network comparison and give some opinions as to which ones are best and which ones you should use.
Affiliate networks are advertising networks that connect advertisers with publishers. The publishers promote the advertiser’s sites and products and in exchange get a commission on any traffic that they refer to the advertiser. Different programs earn the publisher different commission rates. Commission rates vary but are typically around 5-8%. You can use AdPlugg to manage and serve all of your affiliate network ads.
Here are our top affiliate networks:
1. Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates is a great affiliate network to get started with. Amazon Associates allows you to promote specific products or Amazon in general. If one of your readers clicks a link to Amazon on your site and then buys something from Amazon, you receive a commission. It doesn’t matter what they buy, it could be the product that you were recommending, a competing product or something else entirely. Amazon’s commission rates work on a sliding scale – the more business you bring them (per month) the better the percentage is. The commission rate starts at 4%.
2. Rakuten LinkShare
LinkShare is different from Amazon as it is an affiliate network made up of a number of affiliate programs. Each affiliate program is from a different advertiser and works similarly to Amazon. Any publisher can sign up with LinkShare. Once you’ve signed up, you can apply start to apply to the different programs. Whether or not you get approved will depend on whether the advertiser likes your site and on how picky they are. LinkShare has a really nice interface and programs from some major retailers such as Macy’s and Nordstrom.
ShareASale works almost identically to LinkShare but offers a different selection of advertisers. Many of the advertisers cater to smaller niche markets. Some examples include Gymboree (childrens clothing) and One Kings Lane (furniture). I find the LinkShare interface nicer and easier to use but ShareASale includes some good programs that are worth the extra effort.
4. Commission Junction
CommissionJunction has had a major presence in the Affiliate network space for a while now. They have some of the best technology (most features) but it can be more difficult to use than the ones mentioned above. Commission junction has a lot of middle sized retailers such as the Gap and Toys R Us.
Each of the above affiliate networks is free to join and each have different pros/cons. Which is the best affiliate network for you will depend on the Advertisers that you are looking for. The best way to see which advertisers are part of an affiliate network is is to go ahead and sign up. Once you have an account you can see which advertiser programs they have and apply to them. If you don’t like the programs or don’t get accepted, you can close (or just abstain from using) your account.
As previously mentioned, all of your affiliate ads can be managed using AdPlugg, so sign up for a bunch of them and rotate them. Then remove the ones that aren’t making money.
Have any comments or know of other affiliate networks, add them to the comment section below.