Do more players make for more efficient marketing?
In the physical world it is typical to assume that too many steps in the flow of goods is not the most efficient means of connecting products with customers. Just think about "Just in Time" and "Virtual Inventory" etc.
When finding customers via the Internet it appears that the more the merrier. I'm currently at the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas and one of my take away is that there is plenty of opportunity for MORE intermediaries between product and customer. The non-controlled (some would argue "uncontrolled") nature of online navigation provides the opportunity to create way stations where prospects get close, but don't necessarily get to their destination.
A secret to success in the affiliate space will be providing enough service to the prospect to get information in exchange. This is where affiliates can differentiate themselves from search and make a huge impact on marketing by learning about the non-converters.