An affiliate network is a prime way for an online business to increase its customer base, and therefore its sales. By forming an affiliate network, the business is actually creating a large group of commissioned sales people that cost the business nothing in the way of increased overhead. The affiliate network also raises the possibility of increased sales because every individual or business that is a member of the affiliate network is actively attempting to market the products or services of the company. A prime example of a successful affiliate network is Amazon.com, which gained extremely rapid growth through acquisition of many affiliates, at least in the thousands, and by some accounts the hundreds of thousands, since its beginning.
Many other Internet based companies have used the business model Amazon pioneered as an affiliate network with great success. Overstock, eBay, Barnes and Noble, Half.com, and many more have formed an affiliate network that is extremely profitable.
The creation of an affiliate network has even spread to organizations involved in career search and job hunting. The larger and most well-known organizations, such as Monster, Careerbuilder and Hotjobs all use the affiliate network model for marketing, and to increase sales. They encourage web sites to post ads on their sites, which can be text based ads, banners, buttons, or other links to encourage web surfers to click on the link and check out their sites through the affiliate network. This gives them far more advertising than would be possible through other, more costly, advertising methods. It also helps the members of the affiliate program because they make money whenever someone clicks on the link and makes a purchase with their affiliate partner. Take a look at all of the banner ads on the web sites that you visit.
Chances are your web site is a member of at least one affiliate network, if not of several. Yahoo, for example, runs affiliate network ads on all of its sites. Some of these are for the services it offers, such as Hotjobs, and others for companies that are part of their affiliate network. You may have noticed ads for Netflix on Yahoo for instance. Yahoo receives so many hits and unique visitors that chances are good that people join Netflix on a daily basis from Yahoo, and when they do so through the affiliate network links, Yahoo receives a predetermined affiliate fee. This arrangement is almost like a permanent finder's fee and works out well for both ends of the transaction, and also works well for the customer, as it provides useful links to services that they may be interested in.
S. Stammmberger is the owner of Webmaster Attack. An information portal for webmasters, affiliates and marketers.