Affiliate marketing doesn’t really work with the typical publisher who writes about any variety of topics because commissions erode trust and the payout isn’t worth it. Ideally publishers with engaged audiences recommend products to their readers anyway, and might as well make a little cut if their audience happens to buy. Getting people to recommend products online is a big deal (the entire premise of Facebook’s business strategy) so why not incentivize them? The problem is that commissions erode trust. The most important asset to the publisher is their audience, they know this and thats why they aren’t part of affiliate networks. Pumping out links to products is a fast way to kill their audience and the small amount of money gained isn’t worth it. Publishers who don’t want to be coupon sites but still make money stand a better chance at monetizing their work through marketing their own products, consulting, speeches and any of the other modes of indirect revenues.
Coupon code sites on the other hand are very upfront. They aren’t providing thoughtful analysis, unbiased recommendations or helping people discover something new. All they do is help the shopper find a code before hitting the checkout button in their cart. At that stage the shopper is ready to purchase the product regardless of whether or not they find a code that would give them 10% off or free delivery, so is it really fair for an affiliate to get rewarded for that sale?
Affiliate marketing is a very efficient way for discounting retailers to find discount shoppers. But are discount shoppers what you want?