Direct Affiliates vs Affiliate Networks – Which is best?

If you’ve spent any meaningful time exploring top affiliates, best affiliates, the world’s greatest affiliates 2021. You’ve probably asked yourself the question, who are these companies and how do they work with the brand? It’s a tangled web for sure.

We’ve made this article to shed some light on the situation and make it as easy as possible to understand affiliates without pulling your hair out.


Direct Affiliates

Network Affiliates

Hybrid Affiliates

Direct Affiliates

When we say direct, we mean the brand runs their own affiliate program. This company will typically share the same name and only feature one brand (with an exception, see hybrid). There are advantages and disadvantages to running affiliates this way.

Firstly, it gives them greater control over who signs up, which is important in the gambling industry because of regulation, GDPR and gambling regulation etc. It also gives an air of prestige, especially if the brand is well known. However, running your affiliate program directly might limit the number of affiliates they can attract because networks spend more money and offer more options for advertisement. This proposition might be more attractive to the affiliate.

Take Bet365, one of the big players in the EU gambling market. You’ve probably seen them on the high street if you’re a UK resident. Bet365 owns and operates Bet365 affiliates, which manages all its affiliate activity. If you want to become an affiliate then you’ll have to sign up here (

It’s a double-edged sword when it comes to direct clients. There Are well-known brands, so having them on your blog/website/social may get better results, which means more money for you. However, it’s more legwork on your end especially if you only want to sign up for the well-known brands like Betway, William Hill, and Paddy Power who don’t run with networks.

If you get rejected by these programs then tough luck! You’re also stuck with the revenue model they provide. If you want CPM and they only offer revenue share tough luck again! Fortunately for you, we’ve displayed all that information within our comparison tool.  We’ve even trawled through the T&C’s to see if they offer any alternate payment methods, so watch out if it says maybe because that means you’ll need to speak to the company/campaign manager to negotiate a bespoke package.

Network Affiliates

This makes up the lion’s share of affiliate marketing. You’ll have seen companies that you’ve probably never heard of, yet they feature some of the world’s most popular brands. It’s a win-win for the brand, they allow networks to manage their affiliates, which maximizes the amount they can bring on. The only downside is the loss in revenue taken from each affiliate network in the form of referral fees. In direct marketing, they won’t have as much control over which affiliates are brought on however, it’s a minor issue as all companies within the gambling landscape are regulated the same way.

For you, the networks pose an interesting opportunity. Firstly, you’ll be able to run your whole affiliate campaign on one platform, with one point of contact. This makes monitoring and reporting a lot easier. You’ll also be able to run campaigns from different brands. Got a blog that features gambling, fashion, and motors? No problem, Awin has got you covered. You can also benefit from various revenue streams like CPA (Cost per Acquisition) Rev Share (Revenue) or Hybrid. Check out our piece on revenue models here.

Hybrid Affiliates

As you’d have guessed, this is where a brand works with both their own company and networks. Take 888 for example. You’ve probably heard of them for their poker brand but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They also have casino, bingo, sports, and gaming (check out our piece on this). They run their affiliate program through 888Affiliates (Direct) but also Gambling Affiliation, AWIN, and any company that gets approved.

What’s interesting is that you’ll get different rates and payment plans depending on where you go. If you head direct, 888 offer CPA at $65 to $200 which increases the more people you bring on. Rev share at 20% to 40%, again depending on how many people you bring on. You can also speak to your campaign manager to negotiate a hybrid model (no promises).

Whilst Gambling Affiliation doesn’t offer rev share, their CPA is higher than 888. That’s right! GA offers $135 for every new player you bring on (that makes a minimum deposit of $30 and $10 rake or fee). 888 only offer $125 CPA when you bring on 11 to 30 new players. To reach the next bracket ($150) you need to bring on 31+ new players. To put that into perspective, if you brought on 30 players for GA you’d get $4,050 but if you used 888 you’d only end up with $3,750.

Gambling Affiliation£135£810£1,485£2,853£4,185£5,535£6,885
This graph shows the CPA received for each sign-up tier

Notice the jump in value after you bring on 31 players, and then again for 51? That’s because the revenue increases to $150 pp after 31 players, and $200 pp after 51 players. Even if you prefer to be paid in BPS because of the exchange rates, you’re better off taking one of the companies paying USD.


It’s worth knowing about the kind of traffic you’re going to be getting and how many people are going to be signing up before you decide which company to go for. If you wanted to compare affiliate program from across several sector visit our homepage

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