What Is Affiliate Marketing?

An Affiliate Program Consists of 4 Main Entities:

Affiliate / Publisher

A self funded marketer that drives traffic to a merchant’s site and receives compensation if and when it converts.


An Affiliate’s role is to drive quality traffic to the Merchant’s site that converts. An Affiliate can be an expert in and utilize one or many of the various online marketing types including SEO, PPC and Social Media. They are only paid on conversions (sales or leads), and their compensation is dependent on their performance.

Affiliate Network

The technology platform that provides a tracking solution and reporting interface for the Merchant and Affiliate to view performance. Please find details on the two types of Affiliate Networks below:


In-House Network: An In-House Network provides the Merchant with a less expensive tracking and reporting solution. The ceiling of results is typically a lot lower than a Third Party Networks, however, the Merchant usually uses the margin gained by reducing tracking costs to provide Affiliates a better offer. The Merchant is also responsible for calculating and dispersing Affiliate payments.


Third Party Network: A Third Party Network handles all affiliate payments and provides a Merchant access to a trusted tracking solution, reporting interface and large base of Affiliates already joined to their network. They receive a small percentage for each transaction tracked so they make sure to track correctly in order to receive compensation, maintain Affiliate relationships, and not risk losing the Merchants offer. Since they have a mutual interest to provide accurate tracking, they are generally preferred by Affiliates.

Merchant / Advertiser

An online store or service provider who is willing to provide affiliates compensation for sales and/or leads.


A Merchant’s role starts off by creating an offer that compensates Affiliate’s for driving conversions. However, the most important ingredient to success of any affiliate program is a Merchants ability to convert the traffic Affiliates drive when it is high quality.

Affiliate Manager

A dedicated resource in charge of developing, managing, and supporting an affiliate program. It is a common misconception that simply launching a program on an Affiliate Network will generate results. However, an Affiliate Network only provides the platform to list, track, and view a campaigns performance. Dedicated management is required to provide Affiliates support and drive significant results. Please find details on the two types of Affiliate Managers below:


In-House Affiliate Manager: An In-House Manager is a full-time employee of the Merchant and is typically less experienced due to youth and high demand of the industry. Hiring an experienced In-House Manager can be quite expensive with average salaries ranging from $60,000-$75,000 per year plus commission depending on the area.


Affiliate Management Agency/OPM: A quality OPM is an Affiliate Agency that is experienced in providing outsourced affiliate management services and has the resources to make a program successful. Here are some examples of the resources you should look for: Affiliate tools, creative services, and team of experience account managers.


AffiliateManager.com is an Affiliate Management Agency. Hiring a quality OPM like AffiliateManager.com brings tremendous value to a program for under half the costs of an In-House Manager, and provides access to an established Affiliate base.