Affiliate networks play an important role in the relationship between affiliates and merchants. They are the meeting point, which is why most affiliates and merchants will be a member of at least one of them. This chapter focuses on what affiliate networks are and how they work, with the process being explained for both affiliates and merchants. The chapter concludes with five popular affiliate networks in the industry at this moment with most prominent features and benefits highlighted for each of them.
Affiliate marketing is also called "performance marketing", in reference to how sales employees are typically being compensated. Such employees are typically paid a commission for each sale they close, and sometimes are paid performance incentives for exceeding objectives. Affiliates are not employed by the advertiser whose products or services they promote, but the compensation models applied to affiliate marketing are very similar to the ones used for people in the advertisers' internal sales department.