"Private labeling? Syndicating? Reselling? There are different ways of looking at this changing affiliate business space.
But the true bottom line to your business and you is this: When you start putting your partners and customers first, then you will truly become successful. Affiliate programs are evolving into ongoing joint ventures. They’re not dead, they’re just growing up."
Affiliate marketing is a lot closer to channel management than advertising. Amazon has lately been doing several things in that direction (affiliate discussion forums, commissions on third-party sales, the API), while such an understanding isn’t clear at all from Commission Junction (e.g. text link support is rather limited in programs from Half.com or eBay).
If your goal is to get advertising space at very low or no cost, publishers will see through you. You have to support your affiliates to do some actual selling, which needs context and works best with text links. I won’t give your banners and brand exposure a free ride hoping for accidental impulse sales, because I know they won’t happen. Dell affiliate buttons? As if. People do research before they buy computers, so it’s very unlikely the actual sale will be closed through such links, unless the merchant tracks the contact’s origin even if the first touchpoint occured weeks ago (some merchants use long-lasting cookies, I don’t know the specifics about Dell).
Bookseller Alibris just migrated from CJ to Linkshare and it’s been hard for them to get the flexible link format I (and probably others) requested, but they eventually made it. It’s strange though that they initially proposed a linking format that couldn’t be automated to support my database of SF&F authors and books, which hints of an advertising mindset, where you build your links manually.
05/30/05 update: What’s Wrong With Affiliate Marketing sounds like something I could have written.