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What Are Sub-Affiliate Networks?

Like any partner within the affiliate marketing ecosystem, sub-affiliate networks help brands promote their products and services efficiently and cost-effectively.

What’s a bit different between a sub-affiliate network and other types of affiliates is how brands partner with them.


The sub-affiliate model

A sub-affiliate network offers services and support to both brands and affiliates – often content creators, bloggers, influencers, website owners, etc. (“sub-affiliates”) – and helps them monetize their blog, website or social channel on a cost per action (CPA) basis.

Sub-affiliate networks help simplify this process by acting as the affiliate of record within a brand’s affiliate program and providing the centralized link building, communications, reporting and payments to the sub-affiliates on their platform.

How it works

  1. A sub-affiliate network applies to join a brand’s affiliate program via an affiliate network or platform.
  2. Once accepted into the program, the sub-affiliate network receives promotional details, creative and messaging from the brand.
  3. The sub-affiliate network then provides those resources to the affiliates within their platform, so they have the information and tools they need to promote the brand.

For example, affiliates can make use of the sub-affiliate network’s internally generated HTML or java script code to monetize different keywords on their site. When the code is placed on the website, specific brand keywords would automatically convert into a tracked affiliate link. This allows the publisher to make a commission if a user clicks on the affiliate link to make a purchase without having to manually input affiliate links into the pages of their site.

How sub-affiliate networks – and their affiliates – are paid

When a sub-affiliate drives a desired conversion/outcome for the brand, the sub-affiliate network is compensated by the brand.

The sub-affiliate network then passes a significant percentage of that compensation on to the sub-affiliate who contributed to those conversions.


Different sub-affiliate networks take a different portion of sales, so it’s important for brands and affiliates alike to understand the commission split prior to partnering. Some sub-affiliate networks are able to adjust commission payouts to the sub-affiliates on their platform according to the brand’s commission structure.

For example, if a brand has structured their commission compensation so that coupon partners are paid 6%, loyalty partners are paid 8% and content partners are paid 10%, the sub-affiliate network can structure their payouts to the affiliates on their network who are promoting that brand in a similar way (while also keeping a portion of the commission payout themselves).


Why affiliates join sub-affiliate networks

Many bloggers, influencers and website owners want to monetize their content but don’t always have the resources or knowledge of how to manage their affiliate business on their own.

Their focus is on creating valuable content and effectively promoting the brand (as it should be) rather than figuring out how to join numerous affiliate networks, apply for the programs they’re interested in, pull links and creative and manage relationships with multiple brands.

Working vis sub-affiliate network can alleviate those complexities for affiliates and help them – and the brands they promote – quickly and efficiently scale their business.

Most sub-affiliate networks also offer individualized support to help the affiliates within their network navigate the affiliate channel, handle service requests and optimize their promotional efforts with brands.


Why brands partner with sub-affiliate networks

There are many reasons why leading brands partner with sub-affiliate networks, including:

  • Sub-affiliate networks offer brands an efficient and effective way to grow and scale their programs quickly.
  • Through sub-affiliate networks, brands can gain access to a wide range of content partners; for many brands, these partners are a major point of interest and key to their promotional strategies.
  • The scale of sub-affiliate networks can drive significant traffic, sales and revenue for brands.
  • Brands can easily share their offers with hundreds (even thousands) of affiliates without having to form direct relationships with them.


Best practices for brands when partnering with sub-affiliate networks

To ensure a successful relationship with a sub-affiliate network, brands and their affiliate program management team need to do their due diligence and research on the sub-affiliate network prior to partnering.

Here are some best practices brands should keep in mind when navigating and optimizing partnerships with sub-affiliate networks:

  • Communication – Before partnering with a sub-affiliate network through your affiliate program (or even multiple sub-affiliate networks), it’s essential to clearly communicate what types of affiliate partners you are open to having promote your products/service and those you’d prefer to restrict. If the sub-affiliate network does not allow for this, then they may not be the right partner for your affiliate program.
  • Quality Expectations – If you have expectations around the quality of traffic that you want driven to your site via the affiliates within a sub-affiliate network, those expectations – and the key performance indicators you intend to use to measure that quality – should be addressed prior to partnering.
  • Transparency – Be vigilant about working only with sub-affiliate networks that are transparent and will provide clear visibility into which affiliates on their platform are driving traffic and how – especially if through referring URLs. This information should be made available via the affiliate network/platform or via readily-available reporting.
  • Compliance – The sub-affiliate network must ensure that the affiliates on their platform adhere to the brand’s terms and conditions. This includes, but is not limited to: restrictions on software/browser extensions commission terms, restricted promotional methods and paid placements such as a pay-per-click campaigns.
  • Fraud prevention – It’s important to ensure that your sub-affiliate network partner will promptly remove any affiliates that are engaging in fraudulent activity or not properly following your terms and conditions.

 Partnering with sub-affiliate networks can offer notable benefits to both brands and affiliates.

Learn how Acceleration Partners can help your brand unlock growth through partnerships. Connect with us!


Author: Timothy Bruderek