There are a lot of different opinions on traffic exchanges, but in general, they do work. They aren't a silver bullet, and you still need to put in the work to create quality content and attract attention from your target audience, but traffic exchanges can help you get your content in front of more people.
It really depends on the offers, if you're promoting other traffic exchanges, it works.
Direct linking an affiliate sales page doesn't work really well, at least you need to create a lead capture page before redirecting to an affiliate link. It gives you the opportunity to remarket to those leads if they don't buy the first time they land on your affiliate link.
Though there are many controversies out there, traffic exchange can be very effective if done properly. What you need to make sure of is the quality of the traffic. Once you are pretty sure with whom you exchange the traffic, it will provide you with real benefits.