The world of affiliate marketing has evolved so quickly in a span of a few years. There has been a strong spike in public networks available and technology partners that offer you the possibility to have your own private network. 

If you are placing your bets on your marketing partners to push your business forward, you will want to read on as we dive into the main differences between public and private affiliate networks.

Why are public affiliate networks so popular?

When businesses consider affiliate marketing, their first thought is often on public networks. These networks have become a million-dollar business. But how did they get so popular? Why do businesses work with them? Their main USPs lie in the following:

  • A large pool of publishers
    Public networks tend to have numerous publishers – and in particular long-tail partners. This means that you would have a quick start in affiliate marketing, by simply joining the network and selecting the type of partners you need – even if you have never done it before. 
  • Availability of expertise
    Most large public networks have extensive account management support, which means help is on the way if you are new to affiliate marketing. 
  • Financial flexibility
    When working with a public network, you have little financial commitment as you simply participate in an existing running program. Therefore, you can start and stop your campaigns as you wish!

Why have a private affiliate network then?

You might’ve noticed that the advantages to public networks tend to be greater if you are relatively new to affiliate marketing. If you have established your network of partners, there is great value in creating and managing your own private affiliate network, even though it looks like more work at first glance.

  • More control
    Having a private affiliate network means having a direct contract with your affiliate partners. This direct working relationship leads to better control of whom you wish to include in your network, being more personal with your partners, and working together more intensively together.
  • An exclusive pool of partners
    Want to stay ahead of your competitors? With a truly private network, you can ensure that your partners are yours alone. This not only ensures that your strategic partners are not being shared with your competitors, it also allows you to build up more trust and a stronger relationship based on individualized terms.
  • Lower costs
    Public networks often charge a network fee, as well as commissions. Depending on the network, this amount could end up amounting up to 25% of the total affiliate marketing budget. Working with a private network means you can skip all of this. Since there is no middleman, there is also no middleman fee. It would then be up to you, if you would like to use this money saved to invest in the top publishers or in other marketing activities.

Does it mean I shouldn’t work with public networks anymore?

Well, no. We don’t mean that either. Public networks clearly have their advantages, especially with their large pool of long-tail publishers that businesses would otherwise not have known of. If your business is in its early stages, it could also be hard to expect requests to join your network to be flowing in.

It could be that what you need is a combination of both public and private affiliate networks. Our client Logitravel shows a great example of this, by having direct relationships with strategic partners through their private affiliate network, yet maintaining a presence in public affiliate networks to reach out to partners they are not yet aware of.

What else do I need to consider?

Assuming you have decided on a hybrid of working with both private and public networks – congratulations, you’re almost on your way to revenue growth! The next natural step is to find out where and how you can do so. When choosing the right technology provider for you, you may wish to consider the following questions as well:

  • Is tracking implemented on your domain? (This plays a large part in tracking accuracy.)
  • Are all your marketing channels tracked with the same rigour? (Some big players tend to track their own channels better than others.)
  • Does the tech partner have a strong commitment to data protection? (In light of GDPR this is a must.)
  • Can you monitor the performance of your public and private affiliate network on one platform?
  • Does it allow you to incentivise your partners depending on their performance, i.e. customise your commission models and rules for each partner?
  • Does it allow you to communicate the changes in your network and ad media easily with your partners?
  • Does it enable you to manage a voucher campaign with your partners?
  • How easy or complicated is the financial process? (If you can connect your finance team to the platform, you are in for a seamless invoicing and payout process.)
  • Does it allow your partners to gain transparency over their performance and commissions?
  • Does it meet yours and your partners’ expectations regarding user-friendliness, stability and reliability of the system?
  • Is there a strong support team that could help you with any operational issues?

At the end of the day, the point of an affiliate network is to help boost your business, be it by increasing brand awareness, leads, or sales. Its performance is best improved when you know which is strategic to your business. And you would know which is strategic to your business when you have an accurate analysis of your business.

Don’t hesitate to download our checklist below and easily keep in mind the best practices at all time! 

Download our checklist and keep your best practices with you at all time!