Affiliate Marketing Platforms and Networks List – Pros & Cons

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Affiliate marketing platforms and networks – similar to affiliate programs – provide you with offers you can promote online.

But, what are affiliate networks, how do they work and which ones should you join?

Continue reading for a list of the top affiliate networks.

Understanding Affiliate Marketing Networks

What Is an Affiliate Network or Platform?

Affiliate networks are the bridge connecting bloggers and entrepreneurs (publishers) with companies (merchants) offering affiliate program opportunities for their products or services.

Through a single portal, affiliate marketing networks give publishers access to numerous affiliate programs.

An affiliate network is an online marketplace where sellers (merchants) can sign-up and list all their products.

Merchants will specify the terms of their affiliate program and the commission they will provide to their affiliates.

Some networks even let merchants add creatives and promotional texts that can be used by affiliates for marketing.

Both merchants and affiliates have access to a personal dashboard to keep track of the sales, commissions, and the overall performance of their campaigns.

Read also: Top 12 Affiliate Marketing Niches with Affiliate Programs.


How Do You Join an Affiliate Network?

As an affiliate, you can sign up and join a network to get access to the enlisted products and services.

Then, you can choose from a range of products that resonate with your audience and ideal customer.

When you find a product that you wish to promote, you simply have to apply and go through a verification process.

Once you have been accepted, the network creates an affiliate link for you to promote that offer.

The affiliate link contains a unique ID that is tracked by the affiliate network. When someone clicks on the link, they are taken to the merchant’s website. If they complete a purchase, the network attributes the sale to the corresponding affiliate and compensates them accordingly (depending on the commission rate).


Why Are Affiliate Marketing Networks Beneficial?

Both merchants and affiliates can benefit from signing up on an affiliate network.

As a merchant, when you log into your dashboard (provided by the affiliate network), you can:

  1. Track affiliate links and transactions.
  2. Monitor the performance of each product and the associated marketing campaign.

Also, the affiliate network monitors every affiliate and ensures that they comply with the terms of your affiliate program.

An affiliate network provides merchants with a vast pool of marketers to choose from. However, affiliate platforms do charge their merchants when a transaction happens.

Now that you see why merchants choose to join an affiliate network, let’s see why it will benefit you, as an affiliate.

1. Credibility

When you directly approach brands or merchants, you can’t be completely sure of their credibility, unless they are well-known.

An affiliate network ensures that you only work with verified and trusted merchants, protecting you from fraudulent sellers. It facilitates complete transparency between merchants and publishers (you).

2. Range of Offers

Affiliate platforms give you access to a wide range of offers (products and services) from sellers located all across the world.

This helps you select the best and most relevant products that will resonate with your audience.

Note: You may need to individually apply for each merchant and wait to be approved by them.

3. Promotion Resources

As an affiliate, you can also use the promotional creatives and copy provided by the merchants. These include banners, product images, lifestyle images, email templates, etc.

Using those promotional resources is particularly useful when you are new to affiliate marketing.

4. Tracking System

Both sellers and affiliates can monitor and track every link and sale using the dashboard.

5. Secure Payment Setup

The affiliate network processes all payments. This ensures that your payouts are released in a timely manner, i.e., you won’t have to follow-up with the merchant for your commissions.


Top Affiliate Marketing Platforms and Networks

If you run a quick Google search for the term “affiliate marketing platforms”, you will find many options, which can be overwhelming.

While the basic functionality of all these platforms remains the same, some are better suited for seasoned marketers.

Some of the most popular affiliate marketing marketplaces include Clickbank, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, MaxBounty and Flexoffers. These are reliable and experienced affiliate networks that offer products and services from a wide variety of industries.

Although there are many other platforms, these five options offer profitable commissions and are a sensible place to start.

Here’s an analysis weighing the pros and cons of each of the top affiliate marketing networks:

1. ClickBank

ClickBank is a diverse marketplace.

  • Niche/product types: Mainly digital products, but you will find some physical products too.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with, but usually pretty high (as high as 90%).
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant, but usually 60 days.
  • Minimum payout: $10


  • High commissions from most merchants.
  • $10 minimum payout makes it easy to get paid.
  • Offers weekly payouts.
  • Instant approval process.


  • Refund policy improves conversion rates but can eat into your income if there are refunds.
  • Some digital products being sold are very low quality.
  • Initial payments are made by check only – only after a minimum number of sales can you get payouts via wire transfer or PayPal.
  • Limited range of physical products.

2. ShareASale

Like ClickBank, ShareASale has been in business for over two decades.

  • Niche/product types: Includes physical, SAAS (software as a service) and digital products.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the merchant.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $50


  • Wide product selection, with over 39 consumer categories and over 4,500 merchants listed.
  • Flexible payout options, including digital and standard payout options.


  • None (that I’m aware of).

3. CJ Affiliate

CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction) also has been around for over two decades.

  • Niche/product types: A wide range of niches and both physical and digital products.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the merchant.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $50 for direct deposit or $100 for a check.


  • Huge range of big and small merchants to choose from (more than 3,000 merchants).


  • The application process
  • Accounts are deactivated if you go six months without earning a commission – not the best choice for beginners.

4. MaxBounty

MaxBounty is only a bit newer (founded in 2004).

  • Niche/product types: Niche strengths includes dieting, dating and real estate.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the merchant.
  • Cookie duration: Also depends on the merchant.
  • Minimum payout: $50


  • MaxBounty offers $1,000 bonus to any affiliate that earns a minimum of $1,000 per month for their first 3 months.
  • Weekly payments ($50 minimum) via check, Paypal, Intercash, eCheck, ACH (direct deposit), bank wire, or Bitcoin – known for their digital payments options that other affiliate networks don’t offer.
  • Dedicated affiliate manager.


  • Smaller range of merchants (over 2000 campaigns).
  • Can take a long time to get approved, which includes a voice call.

5. FlexOffers

FlexOffers is another huge affiliate marketing network.

  • Niche/product types: With over 12,000 merchants, you can find physical and digital products across all niches.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the merchant.
  • Minimum payout: $50 within the USA or $100 outside the USA.


  • Huge selection of offer – 12,000+ merchants to choose from. These are from both small brands and big brands, including well-known names.
  • Dedicated affiliate manager. Like MaxBounty, FlexOffers assigns you an Affiliate Manager to help you get the most out of your affiliate marketing efforts.
  • Payment methods include PayPal, Payoneer, and Wire Transfer.


  • If you are outside the USA, the only payment option is PayPal.

Other affiliate platforms include:

  • Awin (Formerly Affiliate Window).
  • Amazon Associates.
  • Rakuten Marketing (Formerly LinkShare).
  • Pepperjam.
  • And the list goes on!
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