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Affiliate vs. Sub-Affiliate Networks

Affiliate and Sub-Affiliate Networks help merchants connect with publishers to run their affiliate campaigns. While they work on the same principle, Affiliate and Sub-Affiliate (aka CPA) networks are different in many technical aspects. This article will cover what each type of network does to help you build a successful affiliate program for your brand.  

Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are the mediators between brands and publishers. They can provide a range of different services, such as reporting and marketing tools, secure payment systems and technical support for both affiliates and merchants. The majority of affiliate networks also communicate with publishers, so marketing managers don’t need to worry about the technical side of creating links, tracking referrals and making payments. All they need to do is provide creatives, program descriptions and email templates for approval or denial. The rest is taken care of by the affiliate network.

The payment conditions differ for each network, but in this system merchants pay affiliate publishers directly. In this scenario, Affiliate Networks make money from transaction fees like the activation fee, minimum deposits and other charges. The publishers earn exactly what the merchant inputs.

While there are hundreds of affiliate networks in the US (and thousands around the world), we will share with you our top ones:

Commission Junction Affiliate NetworkShareASale
Google Affiliate NetworkAvantLink
Rakuten Marketing (LinkShare)Star Affiliance (SAS)

Sub-Affiliate Networks

Sub-Affiliate networks (aka CPA) are separate from affiliate networks, but also offer services to publishers to help them monetize their websites.

The CPA network simply registers in an affiliate network as an affiliate and then recruits publishers (sub-affiliates) to do the work for them without registering as affiliates. In return, those publishers don’t need to worry about figuring out the technology behind affiliate networks and receive a small commission for every action their readers take with a sponsored link.

In other words, a Sub-affiliate network creates a Second tier of an affiliate programs. It distributes its earnings to its publishers and simplifies the set up process for them.

Examples of CPA Networks include ClickboothSkimlinks and VigLink.

Here is a list of all Affiliate and CPA Networks

affiliate vs. sub affiliate networks