“Lifetime Revenue” from an affiliate program

As businesses progress through their usual cycle, many end up going under or need to change their business model and invariably the affiliate is the one left in the lurch when the contract terms they agreed to at the start of the relationship with the program turn into something completely different.

I was talking to a website owner recently and his argument for not launching an affiliate program was that a potential purchaser would not be interested (or at least would frown on) contracts that exist with publishers (the affiliates) that are based on a lifetime revenue model.

Most affiliates who have been around the block before have had a relationship with an affiliate program cut off early due to some form of sale, merger or change in management where the affiliate program is no longer seen as a good idea and the clause in their agreement which usually says something like “we can do what we want to these contract terms” gets used and the affiliate looses all of the hard-earned and built “lifetime revenue”.

It would be great to say that there is an easy answer to this issue for the affiliate but there just isn’t. Trust is the single most important thing in an affiliate relationship as it’s the only thing that’s keeping the affiliate promoting the brand. When this trust is broken for business reasons there’s little re-dress.

The best an affiliate can do is to make sure they are not putting all their eggs in one basket so that their entire revenue stream is not dependent on one particular affiliate program. Letting other affiliates know through forums and posting around the web about their experience and what has happened is a positive thing for the community as well.

If you have some experience you’d like to share about an NZ affiliate program feel free to post it in the comments here.

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