This content is written by Tania Prieto, Head of Client Development at Tradedoubler, Spain. Tradedoubler has over 25 years of experience providing global performance marketing and technology solutions. For more information about their services or to get in touch, please visit:


Affiliate marketing is like having a team of enthusiastic ambassadors spreading the word about your offerings. These ambassadors, known as affiliates, promote your products or services through various channels, such as websites, social media, or email newsletters. In return, they earn a commission for every sale, lead, or action they generate.

Now, imagine you’re managing a large affiliate programme with hundreds or even thousands of affiliates. Keeping track of all these affiliates and their performance can be challenging. That’s where affiliate categorisation comes in handy.

Affiliate categorisation involves organising affiliates into different groups based on criteria such as:

  • Size,
  • Niche, or
  • Performance.

This categorisation helps affiliate managers:

  1. Streamline communication,
  2. Make informed decisions, and
  3. Allocate resources effectively.

For example, by categorising affiliates based on their niche, you can tailor your marketing strategies to better suit their audiences and maximise results.

Additionally, categorising affiliates based on their performance allows you to identify top performers, as well as affiliates who may need extra support or guidance.

While affiliate categorisation has its benefits, it’s not without its drawbacks. Sometimes, the very act of categorising affiliates can lead to unintended consequences that hinder rather than help the success of an affiliate programme.

Imagine categorising affiliates based solely on their size or niche. While this may seem logical at first, it can oversimplify the diversity of affiliates and lead to stereotypes and generalisations.

Before you know it, your affiliate categorisation has become unhelpful; a potential barrier to success. Let’s delve into the pitfalls of oversimplification which can neglect individual strengths and weaknesses, while extinguishing innovation and creativity.

1. Oversimplification and Stereotyping

Relying on stereotypes and generalisations can be detrimental to building productive relationships with publishers. By pigeonholing affiliates into rigid categories, you risk overlooking their strengths and contributions to the marketplace, like assuming small publishers lack influence or niche affiliates have limited reach.

So, you decide to take a different approach. Instead of focusing solely on size or niche, you start to appreciate the diversity of publishers in the marketplace. You recognise that each publisher brings something valuable to the table, whether it’s creativity, innovation, or a strong connection with their audience.

Embracing diversity and breaking free from stereotypes is the key to building strong and sustainable relationships with affiliates. After all, it’s not about the size of the affiliate or the niche they occupy—it’s about the value they bring to the marketplace as a whole.

2. Neglecting Individual Strengths and Weaknesses

Like assigning players to fixed positions, categorising affiliates overlooks their unique qualities. Neglecting individual strengths can result in missed opportunities and ineffective strategies.

  • Flexibility is Key: Embracing a more personalised approach to affiliate management allows for tailored support and guidance, empowering affiliates to showcase their talents and contribute meaningfully.

3. Stifling Innovation and Creativity

Imagine a chef restricted by rigid recipes, unable to unleash their creativity. Similarly, affiliates constrained by categorisation may feel limited in their marketing strategies, stifling innovation.

  • Encouraging Creativity: Fostering a culture of creativity and innovation among affiliates leads to dynamic partnerships and fresh perspectives. Collaboration across different niches or industries can yield exciting results.


Moving Beyond Categorisation

Instead of slotting affiliates into predefined categories based on size, niche, or performance, take the time to understand what makes each affiliate unique. Let’s identify their strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, and tailor our management strategies accordingly.

Recognise that each affiliate brings their perspective and approach to promoting products. By building personal relationships with affiliates and understanding their motivations and goals, we can better support them in achieving success.

Let’s create an environment where affiliates:

  • Feel empowered to explore new ideas,
  • Experiment with different marketing strategies, and
  • Collaborate with brands in innovative ways.

Imagine hosting brainstorming sessions where affiliates can share their creative ideas and brainstorm new campaign concepts. Provide resources and support to help affiliates bring their ideas to life, whether it’s through access to exclusive content, training sessions, or creative tools and resources.

By focusing on individual affiliate strengths, building personal relationships, and fostering creativity and innovation, we can create a more dynamic and successful affiliate program that benefits both brands and affiliates alike.


Affiliate categorisation, while beneficial in many ways, can also pose challenges when oversimplified. Stereotyping, neglecting individual strengths, and stifling innovation are among the pitfalls.

We propose a more nuanced approach to affiliate management, one that focuses on:

  • Individual affiliate strengths,
  • Builds personal relationships, and
  • Fosters creativity and innovation.

We encourage affiliate managers to step away from rigid categorisation frameworks and embrace diversity, recognising that each affiliate brings something valuable to the table. By doing so, we create a more dynamic and successful affiliate program that benefits both brands and affiliates alike.

So, as you embark on your affiliate management journey, remember to embrace diversity, creativity, and innovation. After all, it’s the personalised care and attention that leads to the most vibrant and thriving affiliate programs.


About the Author: 

Tania Prieto is the Head of Client Development at Tradedoubler Spain, a leading global affiliate marketing network. They specialise in performance marketing and technology solutions, empowering businesses to unleash the power of affiliate magic for strategic insights and data-driven growth. Let’s connect and explore how we can elevate your marketing efforts together!