We’ve established that affiliate marketing is where someone sells a product or service for someone else in exchange for a commission.
An affiliate network is essentially a business that has a tracking system that houses thousands of offers from a variety of advertisers, and provides affiliates access to their platform so they can promote their offers. Think of a network as a broker between the affiliate and advertiser.
A relationship with only two parties involved, an advertiser and a publisher, is known as a direct relationship. While this may seem like an optimal situation, affiliate networks can often provide value to affiliates that improves their bottom line, making working with a network more profitable than going direct with an advertiser.