Affiliate marketing is one of the most preferred ways of marketing products and services today. It is a type of performance based marketing where retailers reward the affiliates for every customer they bring to them through their own marketing efforts. Today all big brands have recognized the importance of affiliate marketing in their business and a big percentage of them have utilized it to achieve unprecedented levels of success in the business.
But how did this excellent way of marketing start? It existed well before the advent of Internet. There are many examples of offline affiliate marketing. For example- A hairdresser provides a good discount to an existing customer if he refers a new person to him. Although, the concept existed but there were certain issues like tracking of referrals which caused issues in paying affiliates. But with the introduction of internet, the field of affiliate marketing was revolutionized.
People started searching internet for product information, reviews and recommendations and the web technology became an important consideration in creating a brand strategy. The introduction of cookie made it much easier to track the effects of advertising. The growth of ecommerce and content marketing also helped in setting a clear field for affiliate marketing.
Amazon was one of the earliest companies to use affiliate marketing as its aggressive marketing strategies. It launched its Associates Program in 1996. This launch was a milestone in the world of affiliate marketing as this program created a global interest and became a model of retailers looking to implement their own.
Then 1998 saw the launch of first two big affiliate networks, Clickbank and Commission Junction. These networks were responsible to make affiliate marketing accessible to online retailers which were smaller than Amazon. They made payment solutions and other exchanges between merchants and affiliates easier. In 2000 US Fed Trade Commission published guidelines for this sector, which helped in establishing the legitimacy of this sector in online marketing world.
In the United Kingdom, affiliate marketing accounted for the 6% of country’s online economy in 2012 and £9 billion sales, says a report from Internet Advertising Bureau. With the rise of some big economies in the world, affiliate marketing is now set to see an unmatched success in the coming future.