Sub Networks & Transparency Within The Affiliate Channel

December 17, 2014

Late last month I went along to the Affiliate Huddle and there is one issue which featured very heavily in the morning’s panel – sub networks and the amount of transparency they bring to the affiliate channel.

Late last month I went along to the Affiliate Huddle and there is one issue which featured very heavily in the morning’s panel – sub networks and the amount of transparency they bring to the affiliate channel.

For those not aware of sub networks, they typically work like a network (erm… hence the name) but act as a one stop for tracking and offers of merchants. Instead of trawling through all of the separate networks a publisher can get it all in one place. From my experience it’s common for content sites and bloggers to use this type of publisher.

So looking at it like that, this sounds idyllic right? This is the perfect opportunity for brands to be able to reach bloggers, to achieve a common KPI for brands– to build out the long tail and get content publishers click or revenue active. However, just how clear are sub networks and are they actually bringing value to affiliate programmes?

I don’t know the answer, I can’t give a definitive yes or no to this and neither could the panel who were asked about this. When taking a first glace yes they do provide value – they make it easier for content sites to promote your brand or clients! Perfect.

However, when you look more closely there does seem to be issues popping up with sub networks quite recently. The main one being transparency. I’m not pointing fingers, blaming people here or anything of the sort, I’m simply stating that some sub networks lack this sometimes.

There is such an opportunity for sub networks to build successful two way relationships with agencies, networks and brands themselves. However, what we do need here is to be able to see who in these networks are actually driving traffic and revenue for programmes. We need to have that visibility in order to properly make sure that a brand is being properly represented.

After all – who wants some more questionable sites promoting their brand? They could potentially be scraping offers which cannot be promoted through the channel and are directly against and terms and conditions. They could be bidding on PPC terms when they really shouldn’t be. Or they couldn’t. They could be perfectly legitimate sites just striving to promote a brand in completely the right way.

The key issue here is that we wouldn’t know. If given a little more access to information then there would be amazing opportunities to optimise more and build closer relationships with these sub networks. It’s hard to go to a brand and expect them to sign off further commission or tenancy if we cannot provide a solid case as to a publisher’s worth other than top line figures.

It does seem to be improvement; I have noticed sub networks are becoming a little more active in providing information and communicating with merchants or agencies. However, in an industry which is so reliant on data and statistics then providing a little more of this could only move things in a more positive direction surely?

Toni Pitchfork, Account Manager


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