There is a reason why many major merchants prefer to utilize affiliate marketing networks instead of setting up their own infrastructure. Just as the administrative burden can become overwhelming for publishers with multiple relationships in place, it can be too time consuming for merchants as well. Maintaining direct affiliate relationships involves building out an infrastructure to track referrals, calculate commissions, and process payments. While that may sound like a relatively straightforward process, it can become a major investment with plenty of potential complications and liability issues.
You can sell affiliate stuff if you did not use the stuff but a high, high, high, really high level of clarity is required to do this. Most bloggers lack this clarity. I recall Tony Robbins selling/being an affiliate for a $25K coaching class. Never took it. Never sat in it. But the guy made millions. He had full clarity in selling without seeing. So he rocked out the selling.
Marketers don’t know exactly HOW what we do influences the results, but we can convince people that it does. Sales is a much more precise science, because it has the benefit of relying on simpler math and therefore has more precise predictability into the results and ways to set goals. Big data is starting to give marketing that power and it could carry massive implications to how companies work.
Affiliate marketing overlaps with other Internet marketing methods to some degree, because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include organic search engine optimization (SEO), paid search engine marketing (PPC – Pay Per Click), e-mail marketing, content marketing, and (in some sense) display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by a partner.