What is Affiliate marketing, an in-depth look

The Internet, or the World Wide Web, began its grand growth phase during the 1990s and since then, there has been no looking back for the fantastic and ever-expanding technological element. As with the advent of anything new, companies are also looking out for ways to leverage it for marketing. And the Internet was one big unlimited advertising and marketing space for businesses small, big, or medium.

Consumers were being serviced in every nook and corner of the world and suddenly for a lot of organizations the size of their target audience grew multifold and continued to grow as more and more people are getting on to the internet especially so to a significant emerging economies.

The emergence of search engines has added to the power of the Internet and has given rise to a large platform that can support both information and e-commerce. Owners of websites are leveraging on high content to enhance traffic and business owners are riding piggyback on the websites and blogs to increase their customer reach and base.

Affiliate marketing relies on relationships and ideally includes three primary stakeholders: the advertiser, the publisher, and the consumer. Let me give you a brief on each of these stakeholders:


The merchant category includes companies looking to sell their products too. The products being sold can range from electronic goods to food items to air tickets to insurance and investment products and more. The critical element here is as an advertiser you must be willing to pay people who help in promoting and selling your product(s) and business.


The advertiser and the publisher enter into a contract wherein the former will provide online marketing materials such as online advertising banners, website links, and text ads which the latter will incorporate into his or her website.


The final and the most important party in the triangular affiliate marketing setup is the consumer. The consumer is the one who sees the advertisement and takes action which could include clicking on a link directed to the advertiser’s website or filling up a form that the sponsor has requested for. This completion of action by the consumer is called conversion, which is what is tracked for commission payments due to the publisher.

A Brief History of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing works such that advertisers reward publishers for every new consumer and new business transaction that publishers bring in through their marketing efforts.

The era before the Internet—although the phrase “Affiliate Marketing” is conventionally an online term, the affiliate concept existed even before the advent of the Internet. For that matter, the concept still exists in an offline mode. A classic example is when your beautician or hairdresser gives you a discount if you refer a friend to her or him.

A huge difference between offline and online mode is that in the offline of old-world brick-and-motor mode, the reach of affiliate marketing is nowhere as broad as that of the Internet way. Another fundamental difference between the offline and online affiliate marketing programs is that of tracking your referrals. In the online mode, this has been automated and works like a charm, and there is not a single converted lead that gets missed out whereas in the offline mode, tracking and getting paid for referrals is quite a logistical nightmare.

The Internet revolution—The Internet is, perhaps, the most profound discovery of the 20th-century  Consumers have started looking for information, opinions, product reviews, and other details on the Internet and hence it has become a powerful tool in the hands of advertisers.

As technology advanced and newer versions of the Internet were released, the effect of advertising could be tracked more easily. With the introduction of cookies in Web 2.0, you could easily check the effect of your advertising campaigns on your purchase funnel. And moreover, the enhanced levels of blogging by consumers, the enormous amount of content that is being generated on the web and the opening up of the e-commerce platform was a perfect stage for the onset of affiliate marketing.

The concept of affiliate marketing as is traditional today was designed, patented, and implemented for use by William J Tobin. The first affiliate program was set up by W J Tobin for his company, P C Flowers, and Gifts. Amazon then launched its affiliate project called Associates Program in 1996 that is considered as a significant milestone in the world of affiliate marketing. Amazon’s Associate Program garnered far-reaching global interest, and many retailers used it as a model to form their affiliate programs.

It is an excellent career opportunity for those who have managed to break the code and have made sustained and persistent efforts without being demoralized by initial setbacks. Making an entry into this challenging environment, getting that first small break, coding and decoding large amounts of data and information to leverage to your advantage, and most importantly a willingness to learn from your failures; all these require lots of hard work, diligence, and commitment from your side.

Yes, it is a huge challenge to overcome; but once done, the opportunities are unlimited for you. Heartened by this knowledge, I hope you pick up this chance to enhance your earnings.

And finally, do not fall for dress makers and cheats. Think before you leap; use common sense and avoid things that do not make sense. There are hundreds of legitimate ways of making money vide affiliate marketing. Although the process of setting up and maintenance may seem terrible, it is entirely possible to make a success of your venture.

Many people are making great amounts of money. Follow them; be motivated by them, and find the courage to start off. In fact, I believe, that affiliate marketing business opportunities if leveraged well can be a legacy to leave behind for your future generation.

You can use the tips here to float an affiliate marketing business, avoid mistakes that have the potential to chase you out of business, choose the right product, and the best affiliate programs with mouth-watering commissions. These are what you need as a beginner. Now what?

If you are not satisfied with your current financial status, now is the right time to put everything you have learned into practice. Start by reviewing what you need to become an affiliate marketer again and gradually work your way toward becoming a successful affiliate.

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