How Affiliate Programs Work

Affiliate Program Networks

Affiliate networks, or "affiliate brokers," act as mediators between affiliates and merchant Web sites with affiliate programs. They track all activity, arrange all payment, and help affiliates set up the necessary links on their Web site. Additionally, affiliate networks help recruit affiliates by including an online merchant's affiliate program in their directory. Different affiliate networks offer different extra features, but most have a help-center and a place affiliates and merchants can go to view reports of their traffic.

Affiliate networks are a real convenience for prospective affiliates because they present a wide variety of affiliate programs in one central location. They make it much easier to find a good program that is appropriate for your site.


Click here to do a search for an affiliate network.

In return for the convenience they provide, affiliate networks take a cut of each transaction. Typically, a network takes somewhere around 20 percent of the commission.

Most affiliate network service agreements prohibit offensive content, but generally speaking, any Web site could be involved in an affiliate program. Although they are commonly called merchants, Web sites don't even need to sell anything to benefit from having affiliates. A lot of content-based Web sites get most of their money from advertisers, which are attracted by high traffic numbers. Because of this, traffic translates directly into profit for these sites. Pay-per-click affiliate programs are an excellent way to increase traffic.

There are all sorts of affiliates, from top Web sites to small personal pages. Basically any Web site can join an affiliate program, and if they choose well, they can make some money off of it. Some sites, such as Memolink and MyPoints, are just big collections of affiliate programs. These sites join a variety of pay-per-click or pay-per-lead programs and then pay their visitors a fraction of the commission on each click or reward them with prizes.