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March 29, 2008

Commission Junction vs. Linkshare – Which is the Better Affiliate Network?

Author: expadv | Filed Under Affiliate Networks

Over the past decade there have been 2 major affiliate networks that have dominated the affiliate marketing world, CJ and Linkshare. Both are very similar in functionality, allowing merchants to partner with affiliates (i.e. publishers) in order to drive sales through commission-based marketing. This affiliate model is also referred to as performance-based marketing and has gained considerable legitimacy in the last 5 years. When you talk about who are the actual affiliates/publishers, this runs the gamut of every type of webmaster, blogger, site owner, and big corporation looking to generate revenue online. Many of the super-affiliates of Linkshare and Commission Junction are actually large web properties or the corporate site of a Fortune 500 company. Some of the super-affiliates that are driving traffic through Linkshare and CJ are what are know as “SEOs” or search engine optimizers. These are individuals that are seasoned at getting search rankings and using pay-per-click marketing to generate traffic and sales. Most of the major webmaster affiliates out thereĀ are joined to both Linkshare and CJ because each has different merchants to choose from. Because Linkshare has always maintained an exclusivity clause in their contacts with advertisers, the companies that participate in CJ and Linkshare totally different. So, if you want to participate in all of these merchants programs you have to be joined to both. Both CJ and Linkshare have similar interfaces, both have undergone a lot of improvements over the years. I hear from affiliates I know that they tend to prefer CJ to Linkshare for tracking purposes, that its possibly more reliable, but that’s a fairly subjective thing. I personally recomend to all of my ecommerce and lead generation clients that they join CJ as opposed to Linkshare, mainly due to the fees and contractual issues with Linkshare prohibiting working with any other networks. Both CJ and Linkshare are great affiliate networks mainly due to the excellent affiliate bases they have built up over the last several years. Many smaller affiliate networks pop-up all the time but they rarely offer the same quality of affiliate. Most of those second and third tier affiliate networks are composed primarily of email marketers or email list owners and main Advertisers don’t want email used to promote their offers. Like anything, you really have to work your program and get to really know your affiliates to make the program successful. Mearly having an affiliate program in Linkshare or CJ doesn’t mean it will grow on it’s own. Affiliate programs can really stagnate and die if not managed properly. If you are interested in better managing your current affiliate program or want to launch a brand-new affiliate program, contact Experience Advertising today! Now get out there and drive some traffic!