Building Challenge, Day 13: ShareASale and Google Affiliate Network – AffiliatePrograms.comToday’s post will continue our focus on how you can select a great affiliate network, or networks, to work with.

You’ve reached that point in the Site-Building Challenge where it’s time to make a choice about what kind of affiliate products you want to offer on your site. As an affiliate, you’re going to want to sell products from merchants you can trust to provide great service and treat affiliates well. If you choose to work with an affiliate network, the same is true.

That means you’ll want a network with great products and services from solid retailers that also pays on time. (While this seems like a simple combination, it’s not always the case.)

Today I’ll cover a few important points about two well-known affiliate networks, ShareASale and Google Affiliate Network. While I won’t be able to cover everything related to these networks, I’m hoping to give you a solid foundation to perform your own research.

What you need to know about ShareASale

Founded in 2000, ShareASale currently has more than 2,600 merchants in its network. Some well-known retailers on the network include Keen Footwear, Snorg Tees, Jones Soda and Café Press.

While Commission Junction targets larger merchants, ShareASale primarily targets small and mid-size merchants. If you compare them by the sheer number of merchants, ShareASale is among the largest U.S. affiliate networks.

As an affiliate, you can trust ShareASale to pay on time. They have a great reputation for treating affiliates well and fairly. While they offer all three of the standard affiliate program types: pay-per-click, pay-per-lead (you get paid when someone signs up for something that does not cost anything) and pay-per-sale, with the overwhelming majority most of their offers being pay-per-sale.

And cookie length, or the window of time in which you can earn a referral, of ShareASale programs is relatively generous. Most advertisers will pay affiliates for sales that occur as far as 30-90 days from your visitor’s initial click to their site.

In addition, they have a new interface for affiliates that makes searching for programs and adding new links to merchants much easier. Their “PowerRank” of the top 100 programs, makes it very easy for affiliates to learn what programs are doing well. That kind of transparency is missing in many other affiliate programs.

Because of ShareASale’s merchant mix, there are some niches that will do better than others. A few examples of the kinds of sites that do well with ShareASale include web development, Internet marketing, green products, or niche fashion.

What you need to know about Google Affiliate Network

Google’s affiliate network came about through acquisition. It was formerly known as DoubleClick, Performics and Connect Commerce.

Google Affiliate Network is quickly becoming a powerful force in affiliate marketing and it has the resources and brand recognition of its parent company to thank. Hundreds of major brands advertise through the Google network, including Barnes and Noble, Target, Office Max, Sears and Kohl’s, as well as smaller niche brands such as Wine Enthusiast and Vista Print.

While signing up for some of the big-name programs can be challenging (new affiliates are likely to have their initial applications declined by retailers such as Target), the variety and breadth of the Google Affiliate Network does have a lot to offer.

The one drawback of the Google Affiliate Network is cookie length. Many cookies limited to seven days from the visitor’s initial click to a merchant’s site. That means that if a user goes from your site to a merchant, they’ll need to complete their transaction within seven days for you to receive your commission.

All in all, the Google Affiliate Network is a solid network that’s fair to affiliates. If your site is focused around a niche that complements regular household products such as clothing, tools, or anything else you might find at the mall, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

In summary, these two networks offer a stark contrast to each other. ShareASale is geared toward niche brands. That focus aligns well with the websites of many affiliate marketers. And while Google Affiliate Network does offer some niche products, it is much stronger in its ability to connect major retail brands with affiliate marketers.

Action Items

Here’s what you’ll need to do to complete today’s tasks.

•    Sign up for an account at ShareASale
•    Review ShareASale programs
•    Sign up for an account at Google Affiliate Network
•    Apply to relevant affiliate programs

Check back on Monday, when we’ll continue our review of recommended affiliate networks.