Popular Affiliate Publisher Myths

Affiliate Publishers drive performance (sales, leads, new users, etc.) for merchants and advertisers through their media assets like coupons, vouchers, price comparisons, reviews, apps, extensions, email and social commerce. They monetize thousands of merchants across these assets. To achieve peak commerce revenue, they must make numerous manual decisions daily, such as deciding which network is offering the best deal for each of their merchants; that’s tedious and time consuming. As team sizes shrink and advertiser budgets shift, publishers must reassess their affiliate-led monetization strategies.

Publisher Myth #1

The best monetization for each merchant is only possible through its primary affiliate network.

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For every merchant link, publishers have access to either of the four monetization choices.

  • Primary Affiliate Networks (like Commission Junction, AWIN, Impact, etc.)
  • Sub-Networks (like Webgains, Partnerize, etc.)
  • Rev-share Networks (like Skimlinks, Sovrn, Digidip, etc.)
  • CPC Networks (like AdMarketPlace, Ad.net, Sourceknowledge, Kelkoo, SitePlug, etc.)

Contemporary publishers have effectively tapped into additional non-affiliate budget pools, including search, social, native, retail media, email, BNPL and special project budgets. By implementing this approach, they have attained higher Earnings Per Click (EPCs) compared to relying solely on the primary affiliate networks.

Here are a few examples of merchants with various monetization opportunities, including the primary affiliate network and additional non-affiliate budget pools:

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These are the networks available across its merchants at the time of publishing. The availability of networks might be
restricted in some countries and conditions may apply. Subject to changes.

Let’s elaborate on the case of ExpressVPN. The Primary affiliate network for this merchant is Commission Junction. However, this merchant is also available through Rakuten Linkshare, Sovrn Commerce, Brand Reward and SitePlug. If clicks for this merchant were to be split equally across all 5 networks, then based on the popular myth, Commission Junction should emerge as the network which generates the highest EPC. However, the reality turned out to be different. The graph below depicts how the EPCs of the 5 networks changed over a course of 26 days.

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From day 1 to 15, Brand Reward emerges with the highest EPC, followed by Rakuten Linkshare for the remaining 11 days. As a result, relying solely on Commission Junction would have resulted in earning less revenue for the same duration, highlighting the importance of exploring multiple network options for each merchant. Why did this happen? Could be the budget size, or that the budgets these networks got are from different budget pools like search, email, and special project. Or the difference in tech and scrub rates. There could be over 10 variables affecting this.

However, working with so many networks might seem like an overwhelming task.

Fortunately, NucleusLinks, an AI-powered revenue accelerator for affiliate publishers, was developed to tackle this challenge at scale. This automation platform helps publishers discover networks for each merchant. All network relationships are integrated within NucleusLinks, which subsequently imports tracking links from these networks via automated APIs. The platform then enables the rotation between different networks for each merchant and continually modifies the allocation of clicks based on the performance of each of these networks.

Simply speaking, the primary affiliate network may not always emerge superior in terms of monetization. Sometimes the delta between the primary affiliate network and others is massive, where the primary affiliate network emerges with a far superior EPC. This situation can also change over time.

Publisher Myth #2

Manually deciding the ‘merchant x network’ combination will drive the highest revenue.

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Enabling AI to make decisions about the best-fit network for a particular merchant can result in a staggering boost of up to 112% in affiliate earnings every month.

NucleusLinks leverages AI to dynamically switch traffic flow between various networks, each with different revenue models, without compromising user experience. Through AI-driven decision-making, the platform makes vastly superior daily choices across thousands of merchants simultaneously, saving your operations team countless hours every month. This allows the team to focus on plugging in numerous networks for each merchant, while the system determines the winning network, ultimately driving more revenue.

Publisher Myth #3

Long-tail merchants, which usually make up 80% of a publisher's merchant base, are often disregarded as they drive negligible revenue.

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Mid and Long-tail merchants could contribute up to 50% of a publisher's affiliate revenue.

Most publishers prioritize their top 20% of merchants, as they generate the majority of their earnings, leading to the neglect of long-tail merchants. This approach is justified since it significantly contributes to their revenue. However, effectively managing the remaining 80% of merchants requires substantial manual effort, which goes beyond the capabilities of the current operations team structures. To address this challenge, NucleusLinks employs AI and automation to intelligently route merchant clicks across multiple networks simultaneously, based on the highest Earnings Per Click (EPC). This not only provides incremental revenue for publishers but also captures opportunities that would have otherwise been overlooked.

Publisher Myth #4

Publishers achieve optimal monetization by utilizing the same network for multiple countries.

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To achieve peak revenue, different networks should be selected for each country (for a given merchant).

Many publishers set up a specific network for their merchant link to monetize clicks globally. However, they may not realize that their chosen network might not monetize traffic from every country, leading to unmonetized clicks in such cases. To ensure the monetization of all clicks, publishers must identify the ideal network for each country.

NucleusLinks addresses these anomalies by continuously monitoring the daily EPCs for each country across all networks. It then distributes clicks to the highest EPC-yielding network that is specific to each country.

Let’s consider an example where a publisher uses Commission Junction to monetize the merchant Hostinger. This merchant receives traffic from India, USA, Pakistan, Canada, UAE, Egypt and Malaysia.

The graph illustrates the EPCs for different networks across these countries, along with the corresponding click distribution for each country.

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In this scenario, if Commission Junction was setup as the only network, it would monetize only 34% of the traffic, which is from USA and Canada.

NucleusLinks effortlessly addresses this issue by dynamically switching networks based on countries, ensuring that clicks are allocated to the highest EPC-yielding network for each country. This allows for revenue generation from countries where no revenue was previously attained, thereby improving the monetization metrics. Publishers using NucleusLinks have seen revenue lift of up to 30% in such cases.

Country-level optimization is useful for merchants which have global audiences like Adobe, ExpressVPN, Hostinger, AliExpress, and others.

Publisher Myth #5

Publishers have the option to utilize only one pricing model per merchant, i.e., they can choose either CPS/CPO, CPC, or Rev-share.

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Publishers can monetize their merchant links by employing all pricing models simultaneously.

Networks operate on different payout models - some offer CPS/CPO, some Rev-share, and some CPC. These can vary based on the merchant, country, budget source, or simply the network's business model.

How does a publisher decide which monetization model - 5% on each sale v/s $0.50 CPC v/s 70% rev share - will yield the highest revenue? A popular misconception amongst publishers is the CPS will drive the highest revenue. This may be based on historic data or a decision taken by some operations or business member years back. And the legacy carries on.

With NucleusLinks, publishers can throw in multiple networks with multiple payout models into the engine, and it identifies the highest earning networks across all the variables.

This might sound unusual, but it is very much achievable, and NucleusLinks has successfully implemented it for publishers like WeThrift, Demand.io, Vouchercloud, Webgears, and many others.

These 5 myths have prevented publishers from earning higher revenue.

NucleusLinks' automation tech helps publishers challenge these myths at scale, simply by:

  • Reducing manual repetitive tasks
    Adding competition through multiple networks sounds like a cumbersome task, though the reality is to the contrary. Publishers do not need to add multiple monetization links to the CMS, rather just a single Nucleus Links URL. All the merchant and network configurations are done on the Nucleus Links Analytics Dashboard through bulk upload or APIs, thus eliminating the need for a technology team to setup and modify monetization configurations every single time. It can't get simpler than this. Currently, NucleusLinks has 50+ pre-integrated networks which includes all the major Affiliate platforms (like Commission Junction, AWIN, Rakuten, Impact), Sub-Networks (like Webgains, Partnerize, etc.), Rev-share Networks (like Skimlinks, Sovrn, Digidip, etc.), CPC Networks (like AdMarketPlace, Ad.net, SourceKnowledge, Kelkoo, SitePlug, etc.).
  • Centralized reporting and control centre for the operations team
    Nucleus Links' centralized reporting tracks crucial business metrics across different merchants and networks like Clicks, Sales, AOV, Returns, EPCs, and more. Affiliate Publishers can configure merchants and networks within the Nucleus Links Analytics Dashboard. Moreover, the system promptly notifies if there are any broken links, expired programs, updates in revenue due to sales returns, or any other impactful business moment influencing the affiliate revenue for publishers.

NucleusLinks has delivered results for Affiliate Publishers:

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Try NucleusLinks for a month, absolutely FREE!

And witness your affiliate earnings skyrocket through the roof.

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