Earlier this week Adam Riemer put out a great article on whether a merchant should launch their Affiliate Program on multiple Affiliate Networks. He considered a wide range of view points, along with some positive and negative impact items. The overall view point offered was, that it generally isn’t a good idea to do so.
However, there are times when launching on multiple networks is very much a good idea, or even a necessity.
Of late at AMWSO we’ve been launching a number of clients that want to launch in multiple nations, and certainly it can, and has been done, all through Commission Junction. CJ (or CJ Affiliate by Conversant as they are called now), does offer a multiple language interface allowing merchants to reach affiliates in a number of nations. While it’s a nice addition, it is limited, the reach is ok, but with the increasing development of local (nation) networks, affiliates are starting to prefer to work with local network partners. Ease of payment, speed of communication and a far larger range of local offers means the local networks have started to attract a lot more affiliates than the likes of CJ can for what would international offers on their network.
So ultimately when it comes to launching a program across multiple countries it has become a necessity to work with multiple local or regional network partners to ensure a merchant gets the best coverage. This is especially true in Asia where regional network coverage is very poor and the best option is always to work with a local (national) network partner.
That said, in Europe especially, it is possible to join a single network, such as Web Gains, and get access to nine or ten different countries through a single continent spanning platform.
Another area to consider, is niche networks. There are a growing number of Affiliate Networks that cater to very specific industries, such as skin care, health, travel and finance. The concept is hardly new, Gaming and Casino programs have had their own dedicated networks for many years, but the concept does seem to have struggled to gain traction within the general retail programs. However as the core networks get ever more crowded, getting noticed becomes difficult and getting the attention of affiliates in a merchants niche far harder, these niche Networks may well start to gain traction. Testing them out will be something a merchant needs to consider when launching their affiliate program. As most still offer very low cost entry points it makes sense to launch on a niche network as well as on a larger generic network. The results might not be there, but if they are then a far faster route to program traction and growth could be tapped into.
A final area to consider, is an inhouse program running along side a network. While this still presents the same challenges as running two networks in terms of duplicate tracking and maintaining balance. An in house program offers far more flexibility than a network can ever offer, as long as you have the resources to make it happen.
In the long run an in house program can also be cheaper (no network fees) and lead to a far more dedicated team of affiliate partners promoting a product due to the level of support and customization that they can be offered.
In House programs don’t work for everyone, small brands with generic products will find it a challenge to get the attention of affiliate partners. Merchants generally need either a very unique / in demand product or a well known brand before an in house program will prove to be a good option. Which is why running the in house along side a network program can be an attractive option. The network offers a way to build the program, while your brand and product get wider acknowledgement and then affiliates who see the in house down the line may well be tempted to sign up there rather than with the network.