So, you are on a shoestring budget, or looking for additional channels to generate clients and leads. Although it has its drawbacks, setting up an affiliate network is certainly an additional channel to consider. The drawbacks are generally the unreliable volume and general lower quality of leads and clients as well as the considerable brand risk of renegade affiliates. The benefit is cheap leads and clients and a reach beyond paid media.
There are a few options in setting up such a network. One involves making performance deals directly with media, another involves working with affiliates. Of course those affiliates can be media owners, but they can also be buying traffic in various ways and this is what sets them apart from the former group.
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In our experience unless you have very large affiliates and the generous revenue share that is needed to make that relationship work, it’s best to work directly with media instead of with an affiliate that buys media. Deals are done in different ways but usually you would agree with them to buy leads from them at a certain price (cost per lead), then they would run your offer on whatever inventory they do not sell directly. The media would have to earn more on this then what they would usually run on remnant inventory (Google Adsense and so on), so guaranteeing them a floor price can certainly help in getting their cooperation.
As far as finding this media goes, it’s reaching out to all relevant sites and relationship building. Initial site lists can be made with doubleclick ad planner, various google searches, tools like similarweb and of course by way of industry experience. Besides doing deals with display sites don’t forget about mobile apps and email list providers. Of course you can also set up an affiliate program site like this one and have potential affiliates come to you through marketing, events, SEO or other channels.
Technically, I would recommend a software like Hasoffers for managing the whole program. Leave a comment if you have any specific questions or comments.