August 13th 2020
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.


Table of Contents:

1. The Sub-Affiliate Model

2. How Sub-Affiliate Model Works

3. How Sub-Affiliates Networks – and their Affiliates – Are Paid

4. Why Affiliates Join Sub-Affiliate Networks

5. Why Brands Partner with Sub-Affiliate Networks

6. Best Practices for Brands when Partnering with Sub-Affiliate Networks


The Sub-Affiliate Model

A sub-affiliate network is a company that 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, social channel, etc. on a cost per action (CPA) basis.

Sub-affiliate networks can help affiliates simplify the process of monetizing their site 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.

Brand sub-affiliate network relationship


How It Works

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


How brands work with sub-affiliate networks

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-Affiliates 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.

How Brands Pay Sub-Affiliate Networks

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 with an affiliate network.

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 affiliates (publishers, partners) who join a sub-affiliate network want to monetize their content but don't necessarily have the resources to manage their affiliate business on their own. Most want to focus on creating valuable content and effectively promoting the brand, not on having to figure out how to join numerous affiliate networks or programs, or manage relationships with multiple brands, etc.

Working through a sub-affiliate network can alleviate some of those complexities for affiliates and can help them – and the brands they promote – quickly and efficiently scale.

What's more is that some sub-affiliate networks offer individualized support to help the affiliates within their network navigate the affiliate channel, handle service requests and help optimize their promotional efforts with brands.


Why Brands Partner with Sub-Affiliate Networks

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

  • Sub-affiliate network partnerships offer brands an efficient and effective way to grow and scale their programs quickly.
  • Through sub-affiliate networks, brands are able to 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 are able to 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 with them through an affiliate program.

Here are some best practices brands should consider to navigate and optimize 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 at the outset of your partnership discussions.
  • 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.
  • Compliance- The sub-affiliate network should be able to ensure that the affiliates on their platform who will be promoting your brand will adhere to the terms and conditions of your affiliate program. This includes, but is not limited to: restrictions on software and browser extensions, 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. If you'd like to learn more about these types of partners and how they might be able to add value to your affiliate program, reach out to our team!

Author: Timothy Bruderek