Affiliate Marketing

Hello all,

I am currently working on a project where we will include fees from affiliate marketing efforts as a major source of revenue.  We are trying to decide  whether to go ahead initially with an Affiliate network, or whether to start our own network from scratch.  Any input on why one would choose a particular route over the other (in-house / through a network)  would be very helpful.  

Also, if anyone knows of any compelling reasons to select LinkShare over SkimLinks or has suggestions for other Affiliate Networks that are as good / better this would be helpful as well.

Finally (i know this is looking to be more of an essay than a question), we're really hoping to look at tracking multiple levels of affiliates in a similar way to what Pinterest has purportedly done with their site, so again, just looking for feedback / experience with any of the networks (or software) that might fulfill these requirements.

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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
I don't think there are a lot of people making money with affilate marketing.  

The main reason is everybody is looking for a make money with little risk or investment scheme and turn to affiliate marketing.   I'm sure there is a very small percentage of people that are making money, but it is not the norm.   As an affiliate marketer you end up being a source of free branding advertising for the product.

Google tried being an affiliate hub and got out of the business.  Had it been profitable for all parties, it would  have stayed.  

One of the larger networks is  Take a look at some of the names on there. I think you will see for the ones you recognize, affiliate advertising is tertiary source.  Same thing with linkshare.  They have a crawl at the bottom showing the companies they work with.  I don't think walmart or tigerdirect are relying heavily on affiliates for sales.

I know at one time, itunes had an affilate program though  Let's say you have a blog about music and you post affiliate ads for itunes.   The problem with getting paid is, what if I read your blog and saw something I did not know about to download and buy.  I clicked on it, did a preview but did not buy.   But I also went to a few other blogs and kept seeing the same thing.  After repetition, I finally click on the thing and make a purchase.   Who gets the commission?  probably not you.  You have no way to track that I came to your site first, then when to 3 others, then made a purchase after clicking on the ad on the 4th site.

Had you been doing pay per click ads, you would have profited off of me.  

I have worked for a large media company and we experimented with ads based on purchase and it was a big loss.   I also manage my own sites where one is in the 10K to 30K unique visitor range.  One quarter I experimented with replacing 50% of all google ads with targeted affiliate products.   The affiliate experiment made nothing.

I think google or another speciality ad network is the way to go.  In the case of google, the ads I see are based partially on your site content and partially on my own interests.  

In any case, the key is you have to have traffic and that is the biggest battle.    

I am a little confused by your question though, are you a publisher?  Obviously I am biased and I would choose ads over affiliates based on my experience.

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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
I have provided a thorough answer
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