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Stop Being So Selfish III – The Final Chapter

So in Part I & Part II of the “Stop Being So Selfish” trilogy I covered how affiliates and advertisers are both selfish and how that selfishness fuels the fire for each party to screw each other.  There is a huge missing link to this equation.  As most of you know the affiliate rarely deals directly with the advertiser and the same is true in reverse.  Let’s talk a bit about selfishness by the affiliate networks.

Affiliate networks are a middle man.  A middle man’s job is to add value (perceived or tangible) to both parties they are in the middle of.  In my opinion, here are the most basic of responsibilities that the affiliate network has to each party:

The Affiliate

  • Pay out on-time assuming all posted rules were followed
  • Provide a reliable tracking mechanism (Make sure ALL leads/sales are tracked)
  • Bring campaigns to the affiliates to run

The Advertiser

  • Make sure advertiser goals are met
  • Make sure affiliates are running in compliance with the advertisers requests
  • Fraud prevention
  • Handle payment to affiliates

So where does the affiliate networks allegiance lie? Well….they are taking a percent of what the affiliates make but at the same time, that money is being paid by the advertiser.  Without the advertiser there is no money coming in and without the affiliate there is no percentage to take (unless they are running campaigns in-house which is a whole other topic).  You would think that as a middle man they would be looking out for both parties but often times they are only looking out for one; THEMSELVES!

Here are some ways in which affiliate networks can be selfish:

  1. To the affiliate: “We can’t pay you because we haven’t been paid by the advertiser yet!” – 1 of the 3 basic responsibilities you have to the affiliate is to pay them on time regardless of if the advertiser pays you or not.  The affiliate has NO CONTROL over what advertisers you are bringing in, their credit risk or ability to pay.  The affiliate works with a network because they TRUST that NETWORK, they know nothing about the advertisers.  I don’t care what it says in your TOS, paying the affiliate on-time every-time is your job.
  2. To the advertiser:  Looking the other way when affiliates run un-compliant by the advertisers requests.  After all it’s in the affiliate networks best interest for the affiliate to make more money.
  3. To the affiliate: Not doing anything about shaving – Shaving can be hard to prove but if it’s blatant something has to be done.  It’s not fair to the affiliate to be driving in traffic that is CONVERTING and they just don’t see tracking.  The only way to control this would be for affiliate networks to stop working with advertisers who shave OR require that the landing page be hosted by the affiliate network so they have control over whether or not shaving is going on.
  4. To the affiliate: Shaving by the network.  We all know this happens.  Affiliate networks can’t throw those big baller parties off pennies you know.
  5. To the advertisers: Changing affiliates ID numbers so the advertiser thinks it’s a different affiliate running their offer even though the traffic isn’t backing out for them.

Those are just a few of the things affiliate networks do that are selfish.

Affiliate networks aren’t evil.  Not all affiliate networks are selfish.  The network is a necessary part of the equation but I think that often times they should be better looking out for both parties then just looking out for themselves.

Affiliate marketing has a lot more issues revolving around greed & selfishness then is covered in my part I, part II & part III of this series.  I hope that by publishing these 3 posts some of the parties involved start to clean up their act and focus on a long-term business mentality rather then short-term profits.  No one is perfect, but we can all try to do look out for each other a little more.


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Published inAffiliate MarketingDoing Business


  1. I totally agree with every point, especially – “I don’t care what it says in your TOS, paying the affiliate on-time every-time is your job.”

    Awesome serial posts! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. great trilogy, you’ve definitely point out a triangular relationship between affiliates, networks, and advertisers that is very much true.

  3. Gamekeeper Gamekeeper

    outstanding overview. utterly balanced and accurate

    the extraordinary thing is that all parties seek the same common goal and rely on one another in equal measure yet often behave in a way that clearly reflects a dumb naivety and lack of values and professionalism

  4. Great finale of the series. It gave me a better perspective on the business as a whole, cheers!

  5. […] Stop Being So Selfish III – The Final Chapter – In this epic conclusion to one of the greatest trilogies of our time, AdHustler wraps up the series by focusing in on how affiliate networks, like affiliates and advertisers, can also be selfish. […]

  6. “Changing affiliates ID numbers so the advertiser thinks it’s a different affiliate running their offer even though the traffic isn’t backing out for them.”

    Pure evil but genius. Never thought of that.

  7. Ad Hustler Ad Hustler

    @FreshSuperCool – Happens all the time. Also affiliate networks do it so that they can stop paying referral commission to whoever referred that affiliate into the network.

  8. Amanda Amanda

    Thanks for writing this trilogy. Well put and so true. Points out so many of the issues that exist in affiliate marketing from many angles. And I agree that most of the issues arise directly from greed and dishonesty.

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