The Pros & Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Posted by Jesse Willms on June 28, 2010

The average person has never heard of an affiliate network, and is ignorant of who and what they are. In recent years, the affiliate networks have taken the online advertising industry by storm, quickly becoming the most prolific source of traffic for any advertiser in the online space. An affiliate is a person who puts their own time and money on the line to promote an advertiser’s offer on the internet for a small bounty. It is generally too difficult for an advertiser to manage these affiliates on their own, so they often employ an affiliate network which is basically a management agency where affiliates are able to review a repository of different advertisers to pick up their offers to promote.

Affiliate networks such as Copeac, Commission Junction and Click Bank manage thousands of advertisers, and many tens of thousands of individual affiliates, claiming to provide the vast majority of all advertising traffic on the internet today.

Jesse Willms - Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Networks do have the power to leverage a potentially huge amount of traffic to an advertiser’s offer. By harnessing a hundred different minds, they open up a hundred different advertising avenues to be explored and taken advantage of that most companies wouldn’t e able to pursue due to personnel and budget limitations. However as it’s an affiliate’s own time and money on the line, they often push their boundaries in an attempt to make that extra dollar.

Recently the affiliate world has been dominated by fake blogs, and fake articles. Fake blogs and articles are pages developed by an affiliate to either look like an actual blog put together by a regular person or a news article or review extolling the virtues of whatever product they are trying to push. These pages will always include tracking links to the advertiser’s webpage that will track if a sale was made, resulting in the affiliate receiving a small bounty. These pages are beginning to come under fire from the average consumer as being false and misleading, and are connected in their minds directly to the advertiser’s own efforts. As these pages often feature vastly inflated claims in regards to the product they are selling, they are increasingly providing a negative connotation to the advertiser’s own corporate image.

Additionally, affiliates will often use the same fake blog or article for multiple products creating brand confusion in the eyes of the consumer. Effects of this brand confusion can be seen prominently on forums such as complaintsboard.com where because two different companies have had the same affiliate promote them, the companies and their “negative business practices” will be forever linked.