I have been using CJ, Befree, and Linkshare affiliate programs since they hit the web...years.
I have been affiliated with several thousands of their merchants, as well as two other programs, all of which were miserable under-performers, except CJ.
The ads were targeted, the impressions and clicks were high, but the conversion was miserable, no matter which merchants we featured, save three. Three, out of at least 3 thousand merchants, is not a good ratio. But, two were with CJ, one was with Linkshare.
One merchant, a major industry icon, robbed us blind, we caught them, and nothing was ever done about it. Never received a single support email response. We cancelled our account with them, and oddly enough, yesterday we got a check for a fraction of what they owed us, $10, over a year after cancelling with them.
By robbed blind, it is good to note that my visitors buy in huge volumns. I don't need a great conversion rate. One visitor can buy $10,000 worth of goods. With a 5%-15% commission for me, if I only get one converstion a month, for that merchant, that is fine.
So, imagine how angry I was to see my 5% commission rate change the day after a huge sale, and then told the terms had changed to $10 flat rate, and my huge commission was not going to be paid.
In my book, if the terms change today, every sale yesterday and earlier is at the old commission rate. I guess my logic is way off base on that, eh? According to their logic is was. The day of the sale my huge commission was posted. The next time I look it was downgraded to $10...and they denied they ever had a 5% rate. Funny, that is not what our hardcopies of the transactions said.
That merchant was through Befree. Befree merchant ads were getting ripped off our sites fast and furious at that point.
So... there is an eye opener.
Those three performers, the conversion was low, but the payout was good enough we made good commissions, which were paid on time.
Here are my complaints with these systems:
1. Support emails through CJ are never answered.
2. Support emails through Befree are never answered
3. Support emails through Link Share rarely answered.
4. Affiliate emails to publishers are out of control.
5. Often affiliate emails to publishers come by the dozen to hundreds, day after day from a single merchant. This problem is the worst with Linkshare.
6. Befree is a mess. Hard to get work done. I don't advise at all, for anyone. It is all around a disaster.
Here is what I like.
1. CJ direct deposit, on time, every month, with one combined check. So, if you earn $1.10 with one merchant, $6.23 with another, $19.21 with another, you will get all that money at one time. That is not the case with Link Share. You have to meet minimums for each merchant. The money can get rolled over for years, before you get it.
2. Linkshare has main stream merchants
3. CJ has the best conversion rate
4. Linkshare has the best system for creating links. It is very quick and user friendly, and allows for a wide range of easily configured custom ads.
On Linkshare, this is a good one. We were affiliates with them for several years, featuring hundreds of active banners on our sites. One day I decide to apply to Linkshare itself as an affiliate to place their banner promoting their program on a B2B page I had. They turned be down flat. I emailed them several times and got no response at all. Over a year later I get an email from them, they have approved me.
I have commissions from a giant national retailer owed to me now for two years, with a $0 payment threshold, and no check in the mail to date. But, it is still on the Linkshare books.
All in all, for those type of programs, CJ is the best. But, that is not saying alot. We use them sparingly. They perform best for us in Q4.
We have cut back our associations with these companys to less than 1% of our available ad space.