maximillianos - 12:25 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)
From my experience, the amount of work it took me to be successful with an affiliate program was 10-20 times more work than getting Adsense to work. But in some niches we were very successful, more so than Adsense.
I think it can also depend on the size of your site. My site has over 100,000 pages spread across thousands of topics. That can be a lot of work for one man to target affiliate offers to the right pages. Adsense is my savior for that reason. I just don't have the time in my day to manage the hundreds or thousands of affiliate programs I would need to scale to Adsense's level of coverage on my site.
That said, I have run both in the past on certain niche pages and watched certain affiliate offers crush Adsense. But those offers no longer produce for market reasons, and yet Adsense continues to produce since it changes with the times and demand behind the scenes.
Am I lazy? I guess some might say that. Others might say I'm better at time management and delegation of work. If Adsense wasn't my ad sales partner, I'd never have the time to grow my site and traffic to the levels it has reached today.