One of the most interesting events of the last week was the news that IBG, who own Affiliate Future, have acquired Net Free Stuff, an affiliate website and regarded by many to be one of the biggest UK site’s of it’s kind. An interview with John Lamerton who sold NFS is available at Kieron’s blog. I’ve added a couple of comments over there – mainly enquiring whether John’s sabbatical away from Affiliate Marketing may have influenced his decision to consider moving on to pastures new as opposed to working with NFS.

John tells Kieron that “a freebie site can be incredibly time-consuming” – and the same applies for ourselves. The hours that get lost with admin, updating and site maintenance perhaps could be better used to create content for smaller sites, niche areas, or just putting our feet up. It will be interesting to see how IBG manage the time consuming maintenance though, especially when their other sites, like Pick Them, aren’t in the best of health.

All in all I think the sale has greater interest as it’s a well known affiliate involved, and there’s a bit more information than usual when such things happen (e.g. the price tag, knowledge about the buyer, site information etc).

The news of the sale also re-opened the debate about whether networks should be affiliates and discussion is ongoing over at Affiliate Blog. However, IBG owning and running sites is nothing new as they already own sites like Pick Them, Plentypoints and Henoo.com.

Should a network compete against affiliates? The main issue that I think will arise is with the affiliate’s a network affiliate site competes with as that may damage any previous relationships. After all an affiliate will be less reluctant to discuss ideas with a network if they feel that their ideas may be half inched. Also PPC issues are always sensitive and need to be handled with care and ethically.

However, with all things a network owning a large affiliate site potentially has advantages – e.g. the network may attract more clients and provided they allow affiliates access to all programs then it could be a good move for everyone.