Have Your Affiliate Team Join Affiliate Programs
In addition to your company becoming an affiliate, it should be mandated that all members of your affiliate team create their own sites and become affiliates to have a 360 degree understanding of the industry.
The purpose here is two-fold. The affiliate team will have a better understanding of the issues affiliates face, and it will also have firsthand knowledge of the tools and resources needed to create a successful affiliate site.
The optimal affiliate site for a member of your affiliate team is one that is consistent with the theme of your own site. This way, the site will be able to gauge and test the effectiveness of your creatives, as well as join the competition and compare their performance against your program.
One example of this is BabyLounge (http://www.babylounge.com). BabyLounge is primarily a testing platform for ClubMom affiliate links, but it has also served to measure all other affiliate programs that appeal to the same demographic.
As you can see, pay-for-performance affiliate programs can work both ways. So, consider joining a content provider's affiliate program and reap some of the rewards of performance-based marketing yourself.