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Affiliate Subnetworks: The best practices you’re missing out on to work effectively

Affiliate subnetworks can be a great way to reach a wider audience of publishers, but it’s important to be cautious. Some subnetworks might not be transparent about which publishers are promoting your brand, so you need to make sure you get clear performance reports and have good communication with the subnetwork. You also need to be vigilant about brand protection and brand bidding, and vet subnetworks carefully before accepting them into your program. Overall, subnetworks can be a valuable tool, but they require close management. Read on to learn more.

Affiliate subnetworks exist as a mini affiliate network within themselves. They have access to hundreds of publishers who may want to promote your brand on their own sites.

One of the key benefits of working with subnetworks is that you can reach a much wider range of publishers through having the subnetwork on the programme. This saves time having to recruit each publisher who operates through the subnetwork separately.

Most subnetworks work with high quality publishers and provide reports highlighting which publishers are driving their performance. However, this is not always the case, hence why subnetworks have somewhat of a tarnished reputation, and you could end up with subnetworks driving a lot of traffic and or revenue to your site without you having much control over or knowledge of where this is coming from.

Ensure your subnetwork is transparent  

There are a few things you need to keep in mind when working subnetworks. Arguably, the most pivotal of these is transparency. If you are not in receipt of performance reports and subnetworks are not uploading this onto your affiliate networks’ transaction report, then you are not aware of which sites are promoting your brand. This a major issue that a lot of brands face – not all subnetworks are transparent and therefore you can end up seeing a high amount of traffic and revenue with no way of knowing where it is coming from.

To avoid this, before accepting any subnetworks onto your programme, ensure that you check what information they will provide you with and don’t accept them onto the programme if you are not going to be in receipt of what you require.

Communication is key

It is essential to have a strong line of communication with subnetworks to ensure that you can reach out and receive responses with regards to specific publishers and if you would like one of their publishers removing and no longer able to link to your site. However, some subnetworks only have online contact forms with long waiting times, which can result in you feeling like you have less control over the subnetwork and the publishers who are able to link to your site.

Brand protection

As you are enabling a wide range of publishers to promote your brand operating through a subnetwork, you can end up with publishers who are not ones who you would work with individually promoting your brand. This can create issues when it comes to brand protection and customer perception. In order to keep your brand protected it is vital that you continuously audit your subnetworks and the sites they are working with.

Additionally, working with a much higher number of publishers can leave your programme vulnerable to brand bidding from publishers operating within a subnetwork. Therefore, you must ensure that you set out very clear brand guidelines, including the action of brand bidding in your programme’s terms and conditions if this is not allowed. Utilising a brand bidding tool will enable you to keep a close eye on any brand bidding and reach out to the appropriate subnetwork if it is one of their publishers. This again, is why you need to ensure that you have a strong line of communication with subnetworks so that you can tackle violations such as this.

Make sure you vet your subnetworks

It’s essential that subnetworks are vetted more stringently than all other publisher types. You must keep track of subnetwork performance and flag any anomalies with the relevant subnetwork. In order to ensure the successful running of an affiliate programme, it is vitally important that you are aware of exactly which sites are linking to your site and that they align with your brand image. Subnetworks can offer great benefits to an affiliate programme; however, they can also be a hinderance when not managed closely. Following the tips presented in this article, you can include subnetworks in your affiliate strategy and ensure that your brand is protected. Subnetworks do have many advantages, and when managed effectively, can add value to your programme.

For support with your affiliate marketing program or if you’re interested in discussing this service with our team, send us an email to and we’d be more than happy to help.

Claudia Poole - Modo25
Claudia Poole
Claudia Poole - Modo25
Claudia Poole
Performance Marketing Manager - Affiliate Marketing

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