Affiliate marketing has many advantages as a revenue stream, but flexibility is one of the biggest. Countless merchants offer affiliate partnerships — from huge global brands to small boutique retailers — so you can find products that appeal to almost any audience. And there are endless ways to incorporate affiliate links into your editorial content, from product reviews and holiday buying guides to price comparisons, curated deal sites, and social media posts.
There are also different ways to get paid for your affiliate traffic. The two primary program types for affiliate earnings are:
- CPA (cost per action): This is the traditional “commission” model that most affiliate marketers are familiar with. You direct readers to a merchant site using affiliate links; if they make a purchase, you earn a percentage of the purchase price.
- CPC (cost per click): This model doesn’t depend on the reader making a purchase, so it tends to reward browsing behavior. You earn money every time a reader clicks on an affiliate link, regardless of whether they eventually buy something.
Some merchants offer only CPA, others offer only CPC, and some leverage both payment structures. The Sovrn Commerce dashboard includes detailed payment information for every merchant, including payment methods, rates, and other relevant data to help you make more educated merchant selections.
There is also a variation on the CPC model where affiliate clicks may be auctioned to network partners in real time. Each partner may value traffic differently based on factors like source, location, device, and other quality measures. So while the bidding process has the potential to yield higher CPC rates, those higher rates aren’t guaranteed, and they aren’t always consistent.
At this point you might be wondering, which payment method is better? Let’s dig into that important question. But before we go there…
A word about real-time bidding (RTB)
RTB allows buyers to bid for individual impressions across a large number of sites at the same time, almost instantaneously. Yet, given its complexity, few technology partners offer RTB for affiliate clicks, as it takes a significant technology investment to build out full auction functionality. In fact, Sovrn is currently the one of the only solutions to offer real-time bidding. But RTB offers significantly higher precision in targeting preferred demographics, and greater efficiencies for CPC, all of which delivers more value to publishers.
What’s the best program type?
Depending on your audience and your content strategy, one payment structure might be more advantageous for you — but the answer could be totally different for another publisher. For example, if you’re running a deal finder group on social media, your readers are often ready to buy when they click a link — so you’d likely earn more on a CPA basis. But a publisher who attracts a high volume of casual shoppers might earn more from a CPC model.
Choosing the right merchant mix impacts affiliate earnings
Clearly, there are a lot of variables when it comes to getting paid for your affiliate traffic. Fortunately, the Sovrn Commerce platform is built to optimize your affiliate earnings over time, using sophisticated AI and predictive modeling to evaluate each click and ensure you earn the most, regardless of program type.
That said, we want to give publishers control over their affiliate strategy — and their potential earnings. That means not only allowing you to select your merchant partners, but also how you prefer to earn.So Sovrn now provides three “Merchant Mix” settings in the Commerce platform:
- All merchants: Delivers increased earning potential with access to all 50,000+ merchants in the Sovrn Commerce network. Merchants may pay on a CPA or CPC basis; if multiple payment methods are offered, Sovrn optimizes and routes each click to help you earn as much as possible. Clicks may also go through the automated, real-time bidding process to further optimize earnings. This option is best for publishers just getting started with affiliate marketing, because you never have to worry about selecting the right payment method.
- Most reliable: Offers the most predictable earning potential and access to 30,000+ merchant partners. Merchants may pay on a CPA or CPC basis, but this setting does not include the real-time bidding process. If both CPA and CPC are offered, Sovrn routes each click to help you earn as much as possible. This option is best for intermediate-level publishers who want consistent affiliate income.
- Traditional: Delivers high earning potential with access to 10,000+ top merchants. These merchants pay only on a CPA basis, to provide more conventional, commission-based affiliate earnings. This option is best for experienced publishers who have an engaged audience of loyal shoppers.
Note: These are account-level settings, so they apply to all links on every site associated with your Sovrn Commerce account.
Earn more with Sovrn Commerce
The better you know your audience, the easier it becomes to optimize your affiliate strategy and generate reliable income. And the Sovrn Commerce platform now gives you new ways to manage every aspect of your affiliate marketing program — and you can see the impact of every change with our real-time analytics.
If you’re not already earning with Sovrn Commerce, sign up now! Once you’re approved you can start earning right away. If you’re currently working with Sovrn Commerce for your affiliate marketing, feel free to reach out with questions. Our support team is standing by to help you reach your audience — and your revenue goals.