Definition of Affiliate Marketing

I see people arriving at my blog in their search for a definition of affiliate marketing. Since I’ve not made any blog posts specifically on this, I have decided to put together one today. Here’s my definition of it:

Affiliate marketing is basically performance-based marketing, whereby affiliates/partners promote a merchant’s product/service and get remunerated for every sale, visit, or subscription sent to the merchant. The most frequently used payment arrangements include: pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-click compensations. Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful and effective customer acquisition tools available to an online merchant today. You decide what commission to pay, and pay only when results (sales, leads and/or clicks) are obvious.

Affiliate marketing owes its birth and first developments to and Back in November, 1994 CDNow started its Buyweb Program — the first online marketing program of its kind at that time. Amazon continued this pattern in July 1996 with its Associates Program. Amazon claims that currently the number of their affiliates worldwide exceeds 1 million associates. (A Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing, p. 11)

The two main parties involved in the affiliate relationship are the merchant (sometimes also called “advertiser”), and the affiliate (sometimes called “publisher”). There are different ways to run, manage and promote affiliate programs, which involve more parties in the relationship, but the two main participants (without which the existence of the very marketing channel would’ve not been possible) are: (a) the party that has the product (or service), and (b) the party that knows how to sell it.

A year ago, when I ran an ABestWeb contest for the best definition of affiliate marketing, Chris, who ended up winning the first prize, summarized things both eloquently and beautifully. He defined affiliate marketing as “the art of doing a merchant’s marketing better than they can, and profiting from it.” Many successful affiliates (also known as super affiliates) are truly better experts in what they do that most of the merchants that they promote. Consequently, they can market e-tailers’ products/services in such a way that merchants get incremental business, while they themselves make a good living off the per sale commission they get.

If you are reading this post as an online marketer who may want to become an affiliate, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll be happy to guide you. You will find this video of help, but for an advice tailored to your needs, shoot me an e-mail, and I will be happy to find good matches for your website, PPC campaign, or any other online marketing initiative.

14 thoughts on “Definition of Affiliate Marketing”

  1. Thank you for this article, and for this site. I’m doing my homework preparing to become a merchant, and the abundance of practical information here is amazing and wonderful. It looks like I’ll be on here for some time…

  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful information. It helps me a lot to understand more about affiliate marketing. I am still starting as an affiliate marketing manager.– and thankfully i found your site very useful especially to starters like me.

  3. I am also beginning affiliate marketing, and so far this information you have posted has been very beneficial. Thank you.

  4. Not to beat a dead horse – but this site has been enormously helpful in helping me understand what I can expect as I set out to become an affiliate.

    The explanations are very straightforward and the benchmarking data are a great help in my planning.

    Geno – thanks for the superb work.

  5. Pingback: Affiliate Marketing – How to become successful? « Anika's Blog

  6. The link for the Practical Guide to Affiliate Marketing took me on a parked page that is on sale from Godaddy. Perhaps you should look at this.


  7. Pingback: Marketing Talk: AM Navigator’s Geno Prussakov - Search Engine Journal

  8. I am now trying to become involved in online marketing and your guidance is on point and interesting
    Thank you for your help.

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