What Are Affiliate Networks? How They Work And Main Benefits

A majority of Companies use Affiliate Networks if they do not have the available resources to create a significant outbound sales effort, if they do not have a substantial advertising presence or if they want to tap into groups of potential customers in an unrelated industry.

All business owners in such Programs know each other and are confident the others are experts in their field and treat clients fairly. Although they offer different services, they are potentially related services. Creating an opportunity for sales leads or business referrals to be passed between the businesses.

Affiliate networks can allow a business to focus on its core competencies rather than on obtaining the contact information of interested parties. And now, let’s learn more about affiliate networks in detail below.

What Are Affiliate Networks?

Basically, Affiliate Networks are a group of associated (or affiliated) companies that sometimes offer compatible or complementary products. And more often, they’ll pass leads to each other. But, at times, Affiliated Companies may not operate in the same industry.

For instance, they may offer cross-promotional deals, encouraging their clients who have utilized their services to look into the services offered by an affiliate. As such, a company looking to acquire new customers will pay members of its affiliate network. Particularly, for the sales leads that they provide.

What Are Affiliate Networks?

In nutshell, an affiliate network is a group of companies that offer compatible or complementary products and will often pass leads to each other. They may offer cross-promotional deals, encouraging clients who have utilized their services to look into the services offered by an affiliate.

Learn More: Affiliate Marketing | Digital Online Marketer Strategic Plan

Whilst, in the online world, an affiliate network consists of brands that team up with third-party online sales channels to promote their goods and services. Online affiliate networks use a system of link sharing to function. As of today, an affiliate network is becoming a very popular marketing tactic to drive sales and generate significant revenue online.

It is extremely beneficial to both businesses and affiliate marketers. According to an industry review on affiliate marketing, affiliate networks are in a period of growth. With 7 in 10 advertisers stating that they intend to increase their affiliate marketing spend in the next few years.

How Affiliate Networks Work

In the online world, an affiliate network consists of brands that team up with third-party online sales channels to promote their goods and services. These affiliate networks typically work through a system of link sharing. Members share links to other members’ products.

And, as a result, whenever sales are made, or even web traffic is generated by their content, a small commission for such sales is awarded. Unlike standard online ads, brands participating in affiliate networks are not responsible for producing the ad content. Rather, the affiliates create the content themselves.

As a brand, companies are obliged to make their affiliate marketing program as attractive as possible. There is a wide range of partners that can fall under the affiliate marketing umbrella, which makes building a reliable and relevant network an important priority for today’s brands.

Related Topic: How to Join Amazon Associates as an Affiliate Marketer

This starts with paying a quality commission rate; and what’s deemed “a fair rate” typically varies from industry to industry. A successful affiliate network creates a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Many organizations might dip their toe in to explore a secondary source of income, or they may go all in, with the goal of seeing their affiliate network become a primary income stream. According to a survey by the Forrester Group, a massive 81% of advertisers use them as part of their marketing.

The reason is that online consumers have become more critical of online content. As such, they’ve increasingly come to value content offering what they perceive gives them the greatest relevance and engagement.

Who Is An Affiliate?

Affiliate is used primarily to describe a business relationship where one company owns less than a majority stake in the other company’s stock. Affiliations can also describe a type of relationship in which at least two different companies are subsidiaries of the same larger parent company.

In terms of the retail sector, one company becomes affiliated with another in order to sell its products or services, earning a commission for doing so. So, in short, an affiliate is a company where a minority stake is held by a larger company.

Related Topic: How to Join the WordPress Affiliate Program for a $25 Pay

To enumerate, in retail, one company becomes affiliated with another to sell its products or services for a fee. Affiliate relationships exist in many different types of configurations across all sorts of industries. There are several definitions of the term affiliate in the corporate, securities, and capital markets.

(a). Corporate Affiliates

In the first, an affiliate is a company that is related to another. The affiliate is generally subordinate to the other and has a minority stake (i.e. less than 50%) in the affiliate. In some cases, an affiliate may be owned by a third company.

An affiliate is thus determined by the degree of ownership a parent company holds in another. Note that for the purposes of filing consolidated tax returns, IRS regulations state a parent company must possess at least 80% of a company’s voting stock to be considered affiliated.

(b). Retail Affiliates 

In retail, and particularly in e-commerce, a company that sells other merchants’ products for a commission is an affiliate company. The primary company provides the affiliates with the merchandise, but the affiliate’s site transacts the sales. Good examples of e-commerce affiliates are Amazon and eBay.

All in all, Affiliates can be found all around the business world. In the corporate securities and capital markets, executive officers, directors, large stockholders, subsidiaries, parent entities, and sister companies are affiliates of other companies. Two entities may be affiliates if one owns less than a majority of voting stock in the other.

(c). International Affiliates

Talking of International Affiliates, a multinational company may set up affiliates to break into international markets. While protecting the parent company’s name in case the affiliate fails.

Or rather, whenever the parent company is not viewed favorably due to its foreign origin. Understanding the differences between affiliates and other company arrangements is important in covering debts and other legal obligations.

(d). Third-Party Affiliates

On one side, in commerce, two parties are affiliated if either one of them controls the other or if a third party controls both. Affiliates have more legal requirements and prohibitions than other company arrangements to safeguard against insider trading.

On the other side, in banking, affiliate banks are popular for underwriting securities and entering foreign markets where other banks do not have direct access.

(e). Business Subsidiaries

Well, unlike an affiliate, a subsidiary is the majority shareholder in the parent company. As the majority shareholder, the parent company owns more than 50% of the subsidiary and has a controlling stake. The parent thus has a great deal of control over the subsidiary.

And is, therefore, allowed to make all the important decisions. Such as the hiring and firing of executives, and the appointment of directors on the board. In other words, a parent company is a company that has a controlling interest in another company. Thus, giving it control of its operations.

Parent companies can be either hands-on or hands-off owners of their subsidiaries. More so, depending on the amount of managerial control given to subsidiary managers. But will always maintain a certain level of active control. You can learn How a Parent Company Works in detail.

Subsidiaries are formed this way: through a spin-off, by carving out subsidiaries, through acquisitions, or even mergers. However, these companies must account for their subsidiaries appropriately. Especially, on their financial statements and for tax purposes.

(f). Affiliated Companies

In general, companies are affiliated when one company is a minority shareholder of another. In most cases, the parent company will own less than a 50% interest in its affiliated company. Two companies may also be affiliated if they are controlled by a separate third party.

Parent businesses can use affiliates as a way to enter foreign markets. That’s why affiliates are different than subsidiaries. With a majority of them owned by the parent company. Additionally, there are several more ways companies can become affiliated.

As an example, a company may decide to buy out or take over another one, or it may decide to spin off a portion of its operations into a new affiliate altogether. In either case, the parent company generally keeps its operations separate from its affiliates. The parent company has minority ownership making its liability also limited.

Meaning, the two companies keep separate management teams. And as I mentioned, affiliates are a common way for parent businesses to enter foreign markets. While keeping a minority interest in a business. This is especially important if the parent wants to shake off its majority stake in the affiliate.

Companies also get affiliates in order to:
  • get into a new market,
  • maintain separate brand identities,
  • raise capital without affecting the parent or other companies,
  • save on taxes, etc.

In most cases, affiliates are associates or associated companies, which describes an organization whose parent has a minority stake in it. Overall, the criteria for affiliation change from country to country, state to state, and even between regulatory bodies.

The Qualities of a Good Affiliate Network Program

When you’re just starting out with affiliate marketing, it’s best to always conduct research as your key guide. So that you can find the best affiliate network programs that will earn you high commission rates. Comfort and ease of use are essential when you’re searching for open source affiliate marketing software.

And, in that case, make sure that you sign up for a program that provides you easy access to earn money online. At the same time, affiliating with a business that already has products in the market is better than partnering with brands that have limited inventory.

Get Started: Post Affiliate Pro Plugin | Ultimate Affiliate Network Software

This way, you can promote as many products or services as you can and earn a lot from them. By the same token, always choose an affiliate marketing program that’s timely and relevant. Not forgetting, bigger networks tend to attract more buyers and vendors. While also, providing you with more chances of becoming a successful affiliate.

Personally, I know affiliate marketing as a flexible and logical sales model that builds multiple income streams for both the seller and the affiliate. However, it’s not entirely an easy, get-rich-quick scheme. Above all, earning a steady income stream through affiliate marketing requires some more skills.

As a beginner, consider the following:
  • Extensive research into the products, follower interests, and web traffic patterns
  • Constant engagement with the products, services, and brand networks that they choose to endorse on their platforms
  • Hours of maintaining an authentic relationship with their followers or readers who purchase the products through their affiliate links
  • Basic or even in-depth knowledge and understanding of social media marketing and search engine optimization to consistently attract new followers and generate additional income

Equally important, while affiliate marketing is a great way to earn passive income, it won’t entirely work for every business. Making an income via an affiliate network also requires commitment and dedication over a long period of time.

Perse, it can be hard to stand out among other marketers and earn a reliable stream of income from affiliate marketing. Once you’ve built up a blog, website, or social media page, there are actionable steps you can take. In order to generate a reliable revenue stream.

Here’s how successful affiliate networks work:
  1. Know your partners. Conduct thorough research about their products and understand their terms and conditions.
  2. Build trust. Buy the products you plan on promoting so you can personally attest to the quality. And then, make sure that your recommendations are credible. The more trustworthy you are, the more they’ll likely buy through your affiliate links.
  3. Have a brand. Choose products that match the content and niche of your blog or social media page. This starts by understanding who your target audience is, where you’ll find them, and how you can entice them to buy from you.
  4. Track your traffic and earnings. If you work with several brands or affiliate programs, monitor their performance. Know which ones are the most successful and which products resonate the best with your audience so you can plan future campaigns.

In short, success in affiliate marketing ultimately depends on the time and effort you’ll put in. As you build a good relationship with your partner brands and customers.

If you decide to become an affiliate marketer, understand that it won’t make you rich instantly. However, once you know how affiliate networks work and the ways to make your campaigns successful, you’ll earn a steady income as an affiliate marketer.


In nutshell, an Affiliate Network is a group of associated companies that offer compatible or complementary products and will often pass leads to each other. They may offer cross-promotional deals. While encouraging clients who have utilized their services to look into the services offered by an affiliate.

In an affiliate network, an affiliate earns a commission for marketing another company’s or person’s products. Whenever an affiliate promotes a product, they earn a piece of the profit from each sale they make. Affiliate links are track prospect leads and sales from one website to another.

Generally speaking, before delving into the analysis of affiliate marketing, it’s good to acknowledge that many successful affiliate marketers don’t rely on their affiliate websites to generate sales. Simply, because there are multiple other channels to do it.

Related Topic: WordPress Affiliate Plugins | Top 10 Best for Web Marketers

Furthermore, for many agency partners (like jmexclusives), the most common way is to recommend the affiliate product to their clients directly. So, what’s behind a website that doesn’t seem to offer much value to its visitors?

Of course, there can be a prosperous affiliate marketer. More so, the one who often makes use of other channels. But, as far as content-based affiliate marketers are concerned, there are many examples of successful affiliate marketing websites to consider. Some of which have managed to build a long-term business around their content using affiliate marketing.

After all, these sites know exactly how to cater to their audience. And then, provide them with a value that moves them towards the conversion stage of the sales funnel. But, if you’ll need more support, you can Contact Us and let us know how we can help you.

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