There are several companies that provide the tools, technology and services that online businesses need to register, track, report and pay affiliates. In other words, merchants don't have to "do it themselves" because these companies provide all the backend functionality necessary to run an affiliate program.
The "backend providers" prefer to call themselves "affiliate networks." Why?
Because they do more than just provide merchants with affiliate software. They also provide merchants with affiliates, and vice-versa. Since they have a pool of hundreds of thousands of affiliates, the merchant's program gets instant exposure to potentially interested affiliates.
And affiliates get exposure to a wide variety of merchants. So...
Join each of these backend providers. You will likely come across many of the same merchants that you found in the affiliate directories. But you will also find new ones. So it is worth checking to see whether they feature any programs that fit with you
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