Affiliate marketing has become a massive online industry over the past several years, emerging as both an effective way for marketers to sell their products and services and for publishers to monetize their audiences. Despite the popularity of affiliate marketing, many publishers still aren’t aware of exactly what affiliate marketing is or how it works. In some cases, these publishers are gatekeepers to an audience that could be very effectively monetized through affiliate marketing, meaning that they’re passing up an attractive revenue stream.
Affiliate marketing is also called "performance marketing", in reference to how sales employees are typically being compensated. Such employees are typically paid a commission for each sale they close, and sometimes are paid performance incentives for exceeding objectives. Affiliates are not employed by the advertiser whose products or services they promote, but the compensation models applied to affiliate marketing are very similar to the ones used for people in the advertisers' internal sales department.
The hardest aspect of an affiliate marketing offer to evaluate may also be the most important. Your ability to drive traffic to merchant sites via affiliate links is one of the primary revenue drivers, and it depends in large part on the tools you’re given. These tools are the advertisements merchants have available for affiliates to use on their site. The better the ads are, this more clicks they will get.
But the conversion rate might go from say 1% to 5%. So if you sent 200 visitors the sales page, you might get two sales (1% of 200). If you take that traffic to a sales page, if half of them abandon but half go through to the sales page, you get 100 visitors to the sales page but they might be converting at 5 or 10%. In which case you’d be getting five or ten sales (much more than the direct sales page method).
In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy. By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996, and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007, and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009, for affiliate marketing and tracking. In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores.