An affiliate network is a company that manages a network of affiliate programs and acts as an intermediary between publishers and merchants. Generally speaking, web site publishers join an affiliate network for free, and then select specific programs to promote on their web site. Affiliate networks are beneficial to publishers in that they offer a large variety of affiliate programs to choose from, and consolidated, timely payments from one source, rather than multiple merchants. Merchants, on the other hand, generally pay a fee to the affiliate network to manage their program. Affiliate networks are beneficial to merchants in that they promote their program to a large base of potential affiliates, manage the tracking and reporting of clicks, impressions, and sales, and manage affiliate payments.