affiliate network vs affiliate software: which is better?

Affiliate network vs Affiliate software: Which is better?

Explore the key differences between an affiliate software and an affiliate network and find out which is better for your business.

When you decide to start an affiliate program, the next big decision is whether to work with an affiliate network or an affiliate tracking software. This article will review the pros and cons of each and help you make a decision.

Here’s what we’re going to cover

What is the difference between an affiliate network and an affiliate software?

An affiliate network works the same as a monitoring software. Sales are tracked and allocated to the affiliate that drives them, and you as a brand see your data in a dashboard. But there are some fundamental differences between the two.


Affiliate networks:

Fees are the biggest difference between affiliate networks and affiliate software. There are 3 things to consider with an affiliate network

  • Setup fees
  • monthly fee
  • Override fees (a percentage of commission paid to affiliates)

Setup fees may vary from network to network. Some are free and you will have to do the work to set them up. Some take money to set it up for you and this can range from $500-$2000+.

monthly fee It is very common in affiliate networks and prices vary. Depending on the size of the network and their locations it can be $250+ per month.

invalidation fees percentage of commission paid to affiliates, usually between 1-2%

affiliate software

Affiliate software like Tapfiliate has no setup fees. We have over 30 simple integrations and extensive documentation that can be done in a few clicks. If you have a custom shopping cart or website, we have the documentation to help you set it up.

Monthly fees are much lower than with an affiliate network. It’s value for money because a software gives you the tools you need to run your own affiliate program.

Tapfiliate charges a small click overcharge per 1000 clicks, which is much smaller than the 1-2% override fees charged by affiliate networks. Most of our customers who switch to us save between 10-30% per transaction by simply switching to an affiliate software. With these savings, you can easily offer your partners a more attractive commission rate.

Additionally, there is more pricing transparency with a software as prices are listed on the website. And Tapfiliate offers you a free 14-day trial for you to test.


Here is a quick price comparison chart

Fees affiliate network vs software

Joint recruitment

Affiliate software: With an affiliate software, you manage your affiliate program yourself, including recruiting affiliates – which means spending time finding and approaching affiliates to promote your brand. But it also means you have a say in who will promote your brand and how. It also allows you to establish a direct relationship with your affiliates that will help you increase your income.

Important to know: You can invite your clients to join your referral program, and it can be automated with Tapfiliate.

Affiliate networks: With a network, there is a pool of affiliates that can refer to your program. Sometimes they are automatically approved and allowed to promote your program (depending on the network) and you have less control over how you are promoted online.

Additionally, with a network acting as an intermediary, it may be more difficult to nurture direct relationships with your affiliates, and depending on the size of your business, this may mean you miss out on promotional opportunities. Additionally, an affiliate network may be involved in case of disagreements between you and your affiliates.

Data ownership vs a software on a network

There are some key differences between a network and an affiliate software when it comes to data ownership. This is because with a network, affiliates sign up with them, not you. That means they have this data. With an affiliate software, what you have is 1st party data.

Affiliate networks: You can easily download your transaction data, but you cannot download your affiliate list and contact information because you do not own this data. They belong to the network and are particularly protective of people who want to do so because it usually means they want to switch to a software or other network, so they do their best to prevent this from happening.

Affiliate software:

You own all your data and with an affiliate software you can download your affiliate information, transactions and other data you need. This is because it is all first-party data and belongs to you.

Payment of your affiliates

Affiliate network: With an affiliate network, you pay the network and the network pays affiliates their commission (as long as a transaction is confirmed and the minimum payment amount is met)

Affiliate software: With an affiliate software, you are responsible for paying your affiliates. You can automate this with the Tapfiliate API or download transactions and pay with your preferred payment method.


There is a difference between an affiliate network and an affiliate software in terms of deals.

Affiliate network: Depending on the size of your business, you may have a 1-year exclusive contract with a network. This means you cannot move to another network for the duration of that contract. Additionally, depending on your plan, you may be tied for a certain period of time. Always check your contracts before you sign them.

Affiliate software: You can cancel at any time with Tapfiliate and there is no connection with contracts. The exception is if you are on the enterprise plan. This contract is one-year, but not exclusive, meaning you can work with other providers if you wish.

What are the pros and cons of an affiliate software?

Partner software professionals

✅ Simple integrations and support

✅ Lower fees

✅ More control over your affiliate program

✅ You own your data

✅ Cancel at any time (for enterprise plans you have an annual agreement, but during this time you are free to work with other providers)

Affiliate software cons

⛔ Need more time to grow your program

⛔ If you have not set up the API, affiliate payments must be made manually.

⛔ There may be a learning curve when you first get started, but our blog has lots of content to get you started.

What are the pros and cons of an affiliate network?

Affiliate network professionals

✅ Help with installation

✅ Pool of partners waiting to promote you

✅ Easy payment to affiliates

Affiliate network cons

⛔ Pricing

⛔ Less control over how you are promoted online

⛔ You do not own all the data

⛔Sometimes there may be a special contract that binds you for one year

*Here’s a quick overview: *

Overview software and network

Have you ever used Tapfiliate to monitor affiliate performance? Try all the features: 👉Get a free 14-day trial here

How do you choose which one is better for your business?

When it comes to making a decision for your business, there are three things to consider. Your goals, the time you need to spend on it, and your budget.

What are your goals?

What are you looking for when starting your affiliate program? Do you want faster growth or are you happy to build it over time? Do you only want to work with creators or other types of affiliates? How strict are you in promoting your brand? Do you want to have your own data, or are you satisfied that you don’t have access to some of it? These are important questions to ask when making a decision.

How much time do you have to spend on this?

All affiliate programs take time to build, whether you’re working with a network or with affiliate software. With an affiliate software, you don’t have a built-in affiliate pool waiting to join your program. You have to do the benefits yourself, which can be time consuming.

What is your budget?

How much money do you need to spend on your affiliate program? If your budget is tight, an affiliate software might be the right answer. If you have more of a budget, it’s important to look at other factors to determine what’s right for your business.

Start your self-employed affiliate program today

Choosing the right one for your business is crucial to the success of your affiliate program. Consider key factors such as fees and pricing, affiliate recruitment, data ownership, and affiliate pay, and consider your goals, budget, and time spent on it.

At Tapfiliate we offer a free 14-day trial to make sure we are the best fit for your business. You can try all our features to get an idea and see what we can do to help you grow your business.

Have you ever used Tapfiliate to monitor affiliate performance? Try all the features: 👉Get a free 14-day trial here

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.