LinkShare is also one of the earliest affiliate networks that are still in operation today. It is much lesser than Commission Junction, with little over 1,000 advertisers (who has over 2,500 advertisers). Nonetheless, it is good to browse their sponsors and employ them to supplement digital ads as well as affiliate promotions from other networks. We also provide the Campaign Planner analytics tool, which optimizes affiliate campaigns based on a variety of creative and link building combinations. Our analytics department can identify lower performing creative and landing pages for an affiliate’s unique traffic source as it comes in. Affiliates will be able to easily notice an increase in program registrations over time, and they will be able to optimize numerous landing page text links, as well as creative/landing page promotions. XXXBlackbook.com, our flagship site, mixes top adult dating with just a cams twist, making it an excellent affiliate marketing offering for any type of visitor.
Review: What makes Linkshare the Friendliest Affiliate Program?
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Signing up as a publisher is a complete breeze in LinkShare. It consists of a five-step process that involves setting up a username and ID, entering your website information, email address, contact information and account/payment information.
You’ll have to pay a $5 fee that goes towards a background check, but it’s refunded after the check is completed, so it’s like it never happened!
Going forward, publishers pay a $25 monthly fee only for accounts with balances less than $50. If your balance is below $25, your account will be deleted. Since accounts are deleted below $25, as a courtesy, LinkShare will never let fees get below a minimum balance in your account without alerting you. LinkShare is honest about all fees, and won’t let any unexpected charges sneak up on you.
Given this setup, though, you might not want to sign up until you have good traffic rolling and are totally ready to commit and sell. You may want to opt for a program without a minimum balance issue, like CJ Affiliate.
For merchants, signing up with LinkShare has a bit of a steep price tag. It costs $650 (which includes a $550 initial “network access fee” and a $100 minimum deposit). What does this mean for publishers? A higher sign-up cost drives in larger merchants who can afford to shell out—which is lucky for you!
In case you were wondering what’s included in the merchant cost, there’s an “ad serving charge”, which makes ads, buttons and text links available, as well as a screening of all potential LinkShare publishers. The cost includes a merchant services feature as well, giving merchants access to training webinars, a welcome kit, program diagnostics and a best practices series.
All in all, this means that the merchants need to put some energy into signing up, sticking around and making the process of advertising their goods convenient for publishers.
For every sale made via LinkShare, merchants are required to pay an automatic 20% transaction fee. After 60 days, merchants must have at least $10 in their LinkShare account and $25 after 120 days. If they’ve got less than the required minimum, their account will be charged the difference monthly.
As mentioned above, thanks to these fees, LinkShare is a major hub for larger merchants and a boon for publishers.
Ease of Use
There are very few (if any) publishers who won’t be a good match for LinkShare.
This program offers a huge range of product categories to choose from, which means virtually any type of business, can work with them. Not to mention the fact that LinkShare has over 1,000 exclusive partners, making this affiliate program a necessity to all mid to large-sized publishers.
I have found LinkShare to be one of the easiest of the large programs to use. Offers are easy to pull up, view, and compare, and you can quickly locate anything you need to within the site. I have rarely been frustrated by LinkShare (and I can’t say the same about many of the other programs). It also tends to be one of the more flexible affiliate programs out there, allowing both regular and video publishing models to be used.
Merchants love LinkShare because they often see their products promoted by publishers across a range of channels, including email, PPC campaigns and social media, via mobile and desktop applications.
For the merchant, LinkShare runs pretty seamlessly from the beginning to end of each sale without too much effort. As a publisher, you won’t have much communication with each merchant, which at times can be both positive and negative.
The Ability to Create Customized Ads for Your Site
LinkShare offers tons of ad types, including text, image, banners, widgets, dynamic and pop-ups. They really excel when it comes to ad creation and usability. Ads can be changed with a few simple clicks and customized in almost any way you want.
Since the process of building ads is up to you, don’t expect much help from LinkShare in creating them. They essentially give you all of the necessary tools to build whatever kind of ad you want, but they don’t actually help you build them.
This feature caters very much to users who want to get their hands dirty and do everything themselves. Sure, there’s a little bit of extra effort required, but as a result, you get really unique ads, which is a major plus from my perspective.
Insightful Reporting and Tracking
To be honest, reporting and tracking aren’t LinkShare’s most user-friendly features, and it definitely takes some practice to master them. Everything you could possibly need for tracking and reporting is available, it’s just a matter of learning to navigate, which can eat up some of your time.
Despite the learning curve necessary to use this feature, reporting and tracking is one of the areas in which LinkShare has made some major improvements over the years. A recent update now makes earnings per click, reversal rates, average sale amount and average commission measurements available.
One feature worth mentioning is LinkShare’s real-time reporting, which helps you view sales as they’re happening. I think this feature is great for predicting trends and determining optimal posting methods.
Another pretty cool feature unique to LinkShare is the ability to group different stores together to see combined reporting while still being able to keep commissions separate to each website.
It should be noted that LinkShare focuses exclusively on sales and only allows cost-per-sale models to be used. That means you can’t use CPM, CPC or site-to-store models.
Customer Service for All
LinkShare does offer a “help desk” feature that can be used as often as needed with no extra charge, and many users have found the help desk to be useful in a pinch.
However, LinkShare isn’t the type of affiliate program that appoints a personal customer service representative to each merchant and publisher. I recommend thinking of LinkShare as a self-service affiliate program to keep your expectations level.
Convenient Payments to Keep You Happy
Unsurprisingly, getting paid is super convenient through LinkShare. Publishers can expect payments of $50 or more to be made on the 20th of every month. Keep in mind that you won’t be paid until sales amount to $50 or more.
They also allow publishers to choose to be paid either by direct deposit or by personal check each month. This is a big plus, as many other affiliate programs do not offer a choice in payment method.
LinkShare writes and processes all checks for no additional fees, which means as a publisher, you don’t have to worry about merchants lagging on payments.
Let’s face it, no affiliate program is perfect, and each one certainly has its own pros and cons. While LinkShare is no exception, throughout its 17-year reign, it has undoubtedly earned its place among the top affiliate programs.
With 1/4 of LinkShare’s partners being exclusive to them, ease and frequency of payment and customizable features, the extra time it takes to learn your way around this program will be well worth it.