Affiliate Network vs Affiliate Program – What Is The Difference?

Many individuals still struggle to understand the difference between an affiliate program and an affiliate network. If you’re uncertain what’s the difference between the two, this short article is for you!

Affiliate program is among the most effective tools that online businesses have offered in their arsenal. Numerous brands pay affiliates to drive brand-new members to their websites.

Affiliate network on the other hand is essentially the very same, but with a couple of small differences.

In this blog, I will share the difference between affiliate program vs affiliate network, share the pros and cons of each type, and more, as this is something a lot of individuals get confused about. Let’s get going!

Difference Between Affiliate Network and Affiliate Program


What Is Affiliate Network?

An affiliate network is an online platform that brings affiliate publishers (people who promote products) and merchants (people who own products or services) together.

An affiliate network is basically a digital market. Different merchants, in that case, called advertisers, showcase their offers making it possible for the publishers to explore a plethora of affiliate providers originating from various programs, niches, nations, and so on.

In the affiliate marketing business, the affiliate network functions as a middleman for both publishers and marketers.

How Does Affiliate Network Work?

After you sign up as a publisher for an affiliate network, you earn the eligibility to access the complete list of affiliate programs for which the network supplies the tracking innovation.

When you enter your dashboard, you will be able to compare affiliate programs based on commission levels, cookie duration, and many other things.

On the other hand, merchants who are registered with these networks can manage their affiliate partners, upload creatives, newsletters, feeds, and also set commission rates and define their own affiliate terms.

Usually, in order to sign up for an affiliate network, merchants need to pay a fee. Some networks likewise need merchants to pay a recurring fee every month and a small deal charge for every sale produced through the network.

However, as an affiliate marketer, you do not need to pay anything to become a signed-up publisher on most networks.

Examples Of Affiliate Networks

If you’ve thought about earning money through affiliate marketing, you have actually likely heard of networks already. Some of the very best affiliate marketing platforms and networks consist of huge brand names like AvantLink and Clickbank.

ClickBank Affiliate Network Example

Here are the most popular affiliate networks:

  • ClickBank
  • AvantLink
  • ShareASale
  • Awin (Formerly Affiliate Window)
  • Amazon Associates
  • CJ Affiliate (Formerly Commission Junction)
  • Rakuten Marketing (Formerly LinkShare)
  • Avangate Affiliate Network
  • FlexOffers
  • Walmart Affiliates
  • eBay Partner Network

Affiliate Network Pros

Affiliate networks have an existing reputation and are normally really simple to sign up with. Before you register, you can look into these companies and check out testimonials to make sure that the platform will fit your organization.

Among the crucial benefits of signing up with an affiliate network is that it currently has a recognized infrastructure. That stated, here are some of the leading pros of affiliate networks.

  • Quick and easy way to join
  • Instant access to a multitude of offers and potential candidates to advertise them
  • Build individual relationships with each advertiser
  • This may lead to better rates (although this isn’t guaranteed)
  • Dedicated support, technology plus end-to-end tracking for both publishers and advertisers
  • Most affiliate programs include branded advertising materials
  • Quick and easy way to maximize reach, exposure, and profits
  • Flexible deals for both publishers and advertisers
  • A large number of payout/pricing models for publishers
  • Flexible payouts for publishers
  • A wide variety of niches
  • Automated tracking

Affiliate Network Cons

There are likewise disadvantages to joining an affiliate network if you are looking to make money with affiliate marketing. Among the most significant of these is cost. The majority of platforms charge sign-up or membership charges.

In addition, they might also take a percentage from your affiliate commissions.

Here is the list of all cons of signing up with an affiliate network.

  • Advertisers usually want to work with advanced affiliates with plenty of experience
  • A limited number of niches to choose from
  • Competition is big
  • There’s always a third-party involved — and that’s the affiliate network
  • Affiliate networks may also place some conditions upon both publishers and merchants that have to be ultimately met
  • Managing advertiser relationships individually represents a larger time investment
  • Advertisers may be more demanding than networks

What Is Affiliate Program?

An affiliate program is a revenue-sharing arrangement in which affiliate marketers are rewarded by merchants for driving leads, sales, and certified recommendations.

The merchant is the product creator and initial seller, whereas the affiliate marketer works as an independent promoter of the brand name who earns money for his marketing efforts.

In easy terms, affiliate offers are programs that businesses establish to promote their services through third-party marketers also known as affiliates.

Affiliate programs are developed, promoted, and handled directly by the advertisers being promoted. This suggests that there are no intermediaries involved, so affiliates don’t have any guarantees in terms of payments and other things.

How Does the Affiliate Program Work?

Affiliate programs are commonly used to boost a company’s marketing efforts and reinforce its sales. It’s an exceptionally profitable way for a company to market its products, with 10s of excited publishers who wish to do the advertising job for them.

Publishers apply to join a program and promote the business’s products and services. In return, the business shares a portion of the earnings made with their assistance.

The benefit that’s provided to affiliate marketers is described as the affiliate commission. The affiliates get a commission when their referred visitors to the merchant site complete a particular action.

The commission for a certified purchase or referral, in simplest terms, is the payment received by the affiliate online marketer for driving each sale, or in case the merchant counts each form submission as a qualified referral.

The distinction between affiliate networks and programs is that such programs come directly from an offered company, without any intermediaries like in the case of networks.

According to, more than 80% of brands run an affiliate marketing program to improve website traffic and increase sales.

Examples Of Affiliate Programs

There are many types of affiliate programs, varying from online courses to site contractors to marketing and organization affiliates. No matter what niche you choose, there are lots of programs out there.

Fiverr Affiliate Program Example

Here, we’re going to explore the very best affiliate programs with the highest earning capacity to guarantee you can generate income off the material you offer.

  • Elementor
  • GetResponse
  • Fiverr
  • Teachable
  • Shopify
  • Wix
  • WP Engine
  • Kinsta
  • Bluehost

Affiliate Program Pros

Among the most significant pros is when you run an affiliate program, you let another person do the talking. It belongs to word-of-mouth marketing, and it tends to be less aggressive than direct selling.

Here is the list of pros of affiliate programs:

  • Direct relation to your advertiser/publisher.
  • Flexible deals if proven successful
  • An effective way to maximize reach, exposure, and profits
  • Low investment to get started
  • Don’t require licenses or fees
  • Strict approval process ensuring credible participants
  • You don’t need to keep inventory
  • Relatively easy to begin earning
  • Excellent passive income potential
  • Marketing Kits are often provided
  • Personalized support

Affiliate Program Cons

As much as an affiliate program is great for most businesses, it can have disadvantages. For that reason, you need to constantly consider both advantages and disadvantages to ensure it is the right option for your organization.

  • Strict approval process
  • A limited selection of offers to promote
  • A limited number of niches to choose from
  • Could be extremely competitive
  • Affiliate programs usually have fewer more expensive payout options
  • Advertisers may be more demanding than networks

So, What Is The Difference Between Affiliate Program and Affiliate Network?

From a general point of view, choosing affiliate programs suggests that you’re working directly with the business you’re promoting in your affiliate material.

The brands that introduce their own program prefer to be in control, but this isn’t always a negative. As a matter of fact, this can indicate that affiliates get better marketing materials in the deal.

However, remember that advertisers will also be more demanding.

On the other hand, affiliate networks actually work like a virtual shopping centre where thousands of marketers make their offers readily available.

This means that affiliates have their pick in terms of which company or niche they wish to deal with.

The majority of affiliate online marketers, specifically newbies, choose to sign up with affiliate programs that belong to affiliate networks.

Affiliate Network vs Affiliate Program – Conclusion

Understanding the difference between affiliate networks and programs can help you browse these marketing models.

Both approaches allow you to partner with product owners and earn commissions promoting the very same. While they share some resemblances, affiliate programs and affiliate networks are basically different.

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with any of the options. They both work well and whether you should join one or another is a matter of personal choice.

I personally prefer affiliate programs because I can talk to the owners, negotiate my commissions, and more. But I don’t neglect affiliate networks either.

So there you have it, that’s the difference between an affiliate network and an affiliate program. Do you still have questions? Feel free to reach out in the comment section below.

And make sure to read my post about the difference between affiliate marketing and network marketing.

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All the best, Ivan. Founder, and CEO

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