Q: Just what is Affiliate Marketing?
A: I’ve been answering questions via the Ask Shawn Collins site for a couple years now, and I am surprised it’s taken this long for somebody to ask this question.
As far as a sort of sterile definition, affiliate marketing is an arrangement between an affiliate (sometimes known as a publisher) and merchant (sometimes known as an advertiser) where the merchant offers the affiliate a commission fee structure for referring clicks, leads or sales to the merchant.
In the beginning, affiliates were often smaller content Web sites. They would put up a banner and cross their fingers.
The affiliate marketing space has greatly matured from the state of the industry in the late 1990’s. While there are still lots of affiliates that send traffic to merchants from small content sites, affiliates come in all sizes and shapes these days.
No longer is affiliate marketing just for one person operations – there are many multi-million dollar operations where affiliate marketing is a core revenue generator.
In addition to driving traffic from banners, affiliates use a variety of techniques these days, including but not limited to data feeds, e-mail lists, SEO, rewards programs, message boards, PPC search engines, blogs, domain parking pages and coupon directories.
An example of affiliate marketing in action can be seen at affiliatemanager.net/book.shtml – this is part of the site for my book on affiliate marketing, “Successful Affiliate Marketing for Merchants.”
The text link and book cover image on that page link to Amazon where the book can be purchased. So if somebody clicks one of my links and buys the book, I get a percentage of that sale.
Check out Affilipedia for more on affiliate marketing. This is a wiki I created for the affiliate marketing industry with the goal of defining all of the terms, issues, etc. in the industry.