We review the top 5 affiliate networks along with their respective pros and cons.
A multi-billion dollar business, affiliate marketing is a great way to make income online, and it has led to the success of many. Merchants are looking for ways to boost their sales through innovative marketing strategies; a void that publishers have come to fill.
Many merchants work directly with publishers, but there are dozens of affiliate ad networks that connect publishers with merchant offers.
Paid in the CPA model, publishers receive a portion of the sales money generated from the leads they provide. Depending on the network, this can be as much as 75% of the product’s cost.
There are a plethora of opportunities to make money with the right affiliate ad networks. We’re going to take a look at the top five affiliate ad networks to see what each has to offer.
1. Rakuten LinkShare
An industry leader, LinkShare is still the industry leader despite the falling number of merchants. While smaller than many of the affiliate ad networks on our list, LinkShare offers some of the best tools to maximize earnings, and a sleek interface with lots of extras.
Are you new to the world of affiliate marketing?
- Reference material and video tutorials.
- Newsletters with tools and industry news.
- In-person training via international publisher university.
Publishers that drive enough traffic and commissions to receive platinum state will also receive consultations from the company to help boost revenue further. The best part is that anyone can become a publisher and start making money with LinkShare.
Payment methods that are currently available are check and direct deposit. The method of payment will vary depending on the publisher’s current residence.
Where LinkShare truly shines is in its ability to create rotating banners. As a publisher, you’ll be able to use one ad-block to test all of a merchant’s creatives, and view each creative’s performance using the reporting tools. This allows for easier testing of different ad units and creatives.
Payout is the only downside of LinkShare. The company waits until the payment is received from the advertiser before paying the publisher, leading to sporadic payments.
- Rotating ads: The ability to create a rotating banner ad right through the dashboard allows publishers to test creatives quickly and easily.
- Deep link availability: Publishers get to choose where a lead lands on the merchant’s site. You can send a lead to the checkout page, or you can send them to an article about the company’s latest product.
- Training: A slew of training material is available, allowing you to learn how to optimize your revenue and start marking more money quickly.
- Small merchant network: A company that has been around this long should have a larger list of offers for publishers.
- Payment: Waiting on payments from merchants means you don’t know when you’ll be paid your commission. Some merchants will send payment to LinkShare in a week, and others in 60 days.
2. CJ Affiliate by Conversant
CJ Affiliate has been offering affiliate marketing ads since 1998, and has one of the largest selection of offers in the business. Known for their large network of publishers, the company works with over 2,500 advertisers on a CPA offer type.
All publishers must be approved by an advertiser before showing their creatives, which does increase the implementation time for a publisher.
If you’re a WordPress user, there is a plugin you can download to integrate CJ Affiliate ads into your site.
The control panel is simple and easy to use, displaying:
- A main dashboard with yesterday’s performance metrics.
- EPC stats for 7-day and 3-months.
Reporting is a little complex to grasp at first with a steep learning curve. The enhanced reporting may be difficult to understand at first, but you’ll be able to segment your account by website and advertiser to see which ads are working well with your audience and which ones are not.
Unlike LinkShare, CJ Affiliate excels in the payment department by offering payment via check or direct deposit, a strict Net-20 term, and a $50 minimum payout threshold. PayPal payments are not offered by CJ.
- Consistent payments: You never have to wait for the merchant to pay CJ before receiving your commission. As long as you meet the $50 minimum threshold, you’ll be paid on a Net-20, which is ideal if you’re running a paid campaign to an offer.
- Numerous offers: A wide array of offers allows you to truly target your audience with ads that pay much more than Google AdSense or any other ad networks. With a lot of verticals, you’ll find no shortage of great offers.
- Product widgets: Through product widgets, you can add multiple creatives to a widget that allows the visitor to scroll through multiple offerings at one time.
- Reporting is cumbersome: While advanced and filled with great data points, reporting is difficult to understand at first. The steep learning curve will turn away a lot of publishers.
- Support: Customer support is seriously lacking. As a publisher, you’ll need to deal with each advertiser instead of a single point of contact should you have any problems using the network. Thankfully, there are few problems that you need to contact support about.
3. Amazon Associates
Amazon is a leading online retailer, and you can tap into the company’s massive inventory to offer products to your visitors. I will be very upfront about Amazon: they have very low starting commission rates of 4% – 8.5%. Some products do offer higher commission rates of 10%, but this isn’t true for all products.
Commission rates go up based on your volume of sales, with 3,131+ products needed to be shipped per month to receive a commission of 8.5%.
Even with these small commission amounts, you can still make a lot of money on Amazon, or use it to boost revenue in your niche. There are millions of individual products you can promote, and the sheer number of offers is why Amazon makes our list.
Also, you’ll receive commission on all products a person purchases through your commission link.
Selling physical goods, you won’t find much opportunity, if any, to earn recurring income through Amazon Associates, but you will find:
- Very easy implementation of products into your site.
- Over 1 million products you can offer.
- The utmost in ad flexibility.
Many publishers will utilize Amazon Associates alongside another affiliate ad network to maximize affiliate revenue. There are also favorable payout terms of Net-60 with a minimum threshold of $10 and payment via direct deposit, check and Amazon.com gift cards.
- Massive inventory: One of the largest inventories of products. There is no denying that Amazon fills the void of every niche.
- Easy implementation: Getting started with Amazon is a breeze. Publishers simply navigate to a product they would like to promote, and at the top of the screen, they will be able to click “Links & Banner” to get a link to promote a specific product.
- Payout: Reporting is simple and payments are always consistent.
- Low commissions: The commissions you earn are quite low compared to other affiliate networks. That being said, you won’t find an inventory of offers this large anywhere else.
- Live chat only: Support, although, great, is offered through a live chat feature on the site. There is no email support, which may be a concern for publishers not within the PST time zone.
If Amazon Associates commission rates are simply not enough for you, there is always the option of going with ClickBank. While the number of merchants may be smaller in size than most names on this list, the commission rates can be as high as 75%.
Counterbalancing the commission rates, there are a lot of offers that aren’t worth promoting for a variety of reasons. Why? They are either low quality offers, or the program or product related to the offer simply isn’t of the highest quality.
With that said, there is a lot of money to be made with ClickBank. You can use creatives to lure your visitors to a merchant site if you don’t want to review a product.
Filtering through offers is simple thanks to the intuitive interface and you’ll be able to filter them by categories and sale prices. One nice feature that ClickBank offers is the ability to view rebill totals, so you can avoid products that are continually returned by buyers. This is a priceless feature that allows for the maximization of revenue.
You’ll also find billing types that match your needs:
- $1 trial
The recurring income is a great way to continually earn revenue from an offer.
Payment thresholds start at $10, and you can adjust this as necessary. The default method of payment is check, but certain countries are eligible for direct deposit. A major benefit of using ClickBank is that you can choose to be paid weekly or bi-weekly as you see fit. The only requirement is that you meet the minimum account threshold.
- Payment flexibility: Payment flexibility is great. Since you can use PPC to promote many of the products on the site, you’ll be able to receive money weekly to keep a consistent cash flow for ad purchases.
- High commission: There are exceptionally high commission rates offered. Many of the offers provide 75% commission rates, while others offer recurring commissions.
- Easy interface: A lot of creatives, prewritten newsletters and other information is provided by the product creators. Implementing ads is a breeze with ClickBank.
- Questionable products: The majority of offers are high-quality, but there are a few questionable offers as well. You can sift through these offers yourself to find the suitable ones, or you can look at the rebill rate to avoid high rebill numbers.
- Smaller merchants: A lot of smaller merchants provide products through ClickBank. You won’t find many Fortune 500 companies offering their products through ClickBank.
ShareASale is in the same category as CJ and LinkShare. The company has been around since 2000, and offers the benefit of having nearly 1,000 exclusive offers that you won’t find anywhere else. The company currently has nearly 4,000 merchants to choose from.
Offers are broken down into pay-per-sale and pay-per-lead.
A major benefit to the publisher is that there’s a significant amount of data displayed for each offer. The following information is displayed:
- 7-day and 30-day statistics
- Reversal Rates
- Average sale price
- Average commission
You’ll also be able to see the commission structure of the merchant as well as the cookie duration. Cookie duration is important because it ensures that you’ll receive a commission for a sale even if it occurs in the future. Some cookie durations are 6 months long, so it does help add more revenue to your bottom line.
Payments are distributed monthly on the 20th of each month, and have a minimum threshold of $50.
- Exclusive merchants: There are a lot of merchants to choose from (nearly 4,000), and there are over 1,000 exclusive merchants you won’t find on any other network.
- Consistent payments: As long as you earn $50, you will receive your payment on the 20th of the month.
- Merchant data: Comparing merchants is easy, and there are a lot of data points available to make your choice of the right merchant simple and easy.
- Site is dated: ShareASale has been in the business for 15 years, and their site looks and feels its age. In fact, you may even call it a bit clunky at times, but that doesn’t take away from your earnings.
- Merchant popularity: Many of the merchants are not known in an industry, or they are not the most popular choices.
More Affiliate Ad Networks
There are a lot of affiliate ad networks that are reputable and trustworthy, but they didn’t make our list for a variety of reasons. These networks include:
We always recommend that you test each ad network for yourself and find one that offers the best offers in your niche. Many networks have their own specialties, such as an abundance of dating ads, while others have a larger list of fitness programs.
Which affiliate ad network do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.
Affiliate networks connect publishers with businesses looking to promote their products or services. Affiliate networks offer training, reporting tools, and other resources to help you succeed.
In an affiliate network, companies offer compatible or complementary products and pass leads to one another. Cross-promotional deals may encourage clients to check out affiliate services after utilizing their services.
By marketing another company’s or person’s products, an affiliate earns a commission. Affiliates earn a commission from each sale they make when they promote a product. Through affiliate links, leads and sales are tracked from one website to another.