Lately I’ve received a ton of emails from guys wanting to build their “own affiliate network.” Before you email me again make sure that you meet the following requirements:
1. You’re a seasoned publisher making at least 7 figures a year.
2. You’re willing to place affiliates on prepay for the first 60 days and then move them to weekly wires.
3. You have a niche that you want to focus on. If you’re thinking about creating just another network, go fuck yourself. There’s too many run-of-the-mill networks out there as is. You’re going to need a niche.
4. Make sure you have a war chest of a few hundred k. Don’t waste your time if you have 10k to your name – it ain’t happening.
If you do not meet at least 3 of the 4 above requirements, then go fuck off. I’m serious, fuck off.
With the advent of hasoffers (great software program btw), thousands of “affiliate networks” have popped up. Most of these networks are nothing but idiots that have no business getting involved in affiliate marketing. Hint: just because you license hasoffers and attract 2,000 affiliates from India does not mean that you own an affiliate network.
Out of the thousands of affiliate networks that exist, there are only 9 that I’ve found that are good:
2. Ads Direct
6. Mundo Media
7. Unique Leads
8. Get Ads
9. Max Bounty
News flash for newbie network guys: Top affiliates are smart, very smart. They’ve all had a friend that got burnt by networks. Honestly who do you guys think you’re fooling? The high volume affiliates are hip to your game – you don’t have a snowball chance in hell in attracting them to your new network. I know most of the top affiliates in the world, guys that can turn on a media buy and hit 12,000 leads a day at a $40 CPA. When they look at running an offer on a network, they pay heed to the following:
1. How long has the network been in business? If it’s less than a few years, the next questions is:
2. Who do I know running traffic with that network? If there are other top publishers running with good experiences, they’ll consider joining your group. If you’re a top publisher that they trust, they’ll likely work with you. If not, the next question is usually:
3. What type of payment terms are they giving me? Top affiliates will want to hedge their risk of loss. They will need guaranteed EPC’s and a prepay. They’ll also need:
4. Exclusive Offers? You better have truly exclusive offers that are not brokered out to other networks. If you’re just brokering offers, forget about it. Why would an affiliate risk not getting paid by a no-name network. The risk is too great. Instead they’ll stick with networks that have deep pockets and are already vetted.
I’ve consulted with a number of the networks listed on this site. There are real businesses behind each network, with strong financial underpinnings, legal backbones, and strategic marketing efforts.
My good friend Jason Akatiff (smaxor), owner and operator of Ads4Dough, used to be one of the largest affiliate marketers in the space. He has his finger on the pulse of the industry. I’ve talked to countless network owners that noted that they’d like to find themselves in Jason’s shoes one day. Chances are that you won’t make it to that level, but if you are determined, do the following:
1. Run your network with integrity.
2. Be willing to accept large losses along the way. I remember talking to Jason back at ASW 10 just after he took a 700k loss. Visa/MC came in and shut down most of his trial advertisers. These advertisers went bankrupt overnight and couldn’t pay their CPA bills. Did Jason turn around and chargeback on his affiliates? Hell no! He paid his publishers and ate the loss. The loyalty his publishers have toward him today is unwavering.
3. Run a compliant network. Jason has zero tolerance for fraud. If an affiliate attempts to wrong one of his advertisers, Jason will summarily block the affiliate and charge the leads back.
4. Deliver on your promises. If Jason takes your offer on, expect it to receive a test early on. If it backs out, you will enjoy high quality traffic and as much volume as you can handle.
Building a viable affiliate network that attracts the largest publishers in the world is not an easy feat. It takes experience, money, and tenacity. If you do it right, you can enjoy access to the best facets of traffic in the world.
Is it worth it? If you were to ask me, I’d say no. It’s a whole lot of work and too many headaches for the money. If you’d ask Jason Askatiff, he’d say yes, as Ads4Dough is now arguably the top affiliate network in the space.
Note: I’m not a fan of large networks like CX Digital, Epic Direct, and Never Blue. They have too much overhead and subsequently have to charge advertisers more money than the lean six sigma networks listed above.