Evolution of Affiliate Marketing

The marketing industry uses plenty of channels to promote and sell their products in ways the clients would appreciate and recommend them to others. Affiliate marketing involves the use of affiliates who advertise the products on behalf of the company to customers and generate sales from which they are paid a specified commission.

This article is a reference source eliciting how affiliate marketing came to be compared to its current ground. Let’s learn and comprehend the history of affiliate marketing.

The beginning of affiliate marketing

Performance marketing entails how employees are compensated for making sales within a company. For every sale, the affiliate marketer is paid in accordance with the referrals they drive for a product.

William J. Tobin was the founder of affiliate marketing in 1989. He owned an online shop to sell flowers that he called PC Flowers and Gifts. Tobin launched the online program using the Prodigy Network, which became the first successful referral business as it generated millions of profits per year. By 1995, the company had approximately 2,500 affiliates who marketed the products through the web.  

Change is inevitable. Tobin initiated a new beta version for his company in partnership with International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), which opened a better route to earn more profit. Two years later, the founder tried to apply for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing that he only got a green light in 2000. By this time, more business companies had realized the gold mine in affiliate marketing and had commenced it in their corporations. Among the companies to embrace this form of marketing was Amazon.

Another important achievement in affiliate marketing was the creation of cookies. Lou Montulli was a programmer who created cookies that are tiny data files preserved when an individual visits a website on a user’s desktop. The essence of this invention was to identify people who have logged into the website, thus a better tracking method. With affiliate marketing, a company can record its customers regarding how many times the clients use the website.

How Affiliate Marketing changed Amazon?

The current untouchable Amazon began using performance marketing in ’96 as it started selling books only at the moment. Amazon Associates was the first affiliate program to be created and accessible to the public. With affiliate marketing, a company works with influences, content creators, and publishers to avail the products to clients at all times. 

Moreover, Amazon was able to reach clients from the entire globe. Every time one signed up, the members published custom banners directly linked to the company. The meteoric rise of Amazon within the two decades has been accredited to Amazon Associates as it was able to expand from selling books to vast products, thus increasing the customers’ threshold.

Simultaneously, due to the incredible advancement of the pioneer companies such as Amazon, other businesses preferred encrypting affiliate marketing to earn. For instance, BeFree and Linkshare were established to bring products closer to the clients, thus improving their businesses. In 1998, the Commission Junction was created by students at the University of California, which became one of the largest affiliate marketing providers.

Wayne Marciano invented the first launch on affiliate directory in 1997 following the continuously evolving affiliate networks. A central origin place was needed to help him generate funds for a website he owned. Thus he made the first-ever directory. 

Rules and Regulations for affiliate marketing

Due to the ransom evolution in the affiliate marketing industry, more rules and regulations had to be formulated to control and maintain business integrity. The U.S Federal Trade Commission was mandated to provide guidelines in the market. In 2000, the aim was on disclosures after a business is conducted between the company, affiliate marketers, and the clients. The Dot.com disclosures instructed that bloggers elaborate on their connection with the advertising corporations. 

Nevertheless, technology is advancing. Thus online marketers were forced to have a deeper comprehension of affiliate marketing. To convince an individual to purchase their product, brilliance and knowledge were significant.

Where does Affiliate marketing stand as of now?

Affiliate marketing has been top-notch ever since the 90s and peaked even more during the pandemic. Businesses are acquiring millions of profits as almost all services have been made online. As of 2006, the United Kingdom had achieved approximately 2.16 billion dollars alone, while affiliate marketing was estimated to reach $6.5 billion worldwide. The main businesses running in this market were gambling, personal finance, lead generation, and telecommunications.

Heightened by the pandemic, companies such as Amazon only aimed at a higher bar. Selling products has now escalated through the use of the internet as the buyer and seller need not meet in public for business to be conducted.


Affiliate marketing has made business more appealing and profitable. It is easy for one to sell their product to all corners of the world without even moving an inch. The internet continuously improves the connection; thus, the purchasing process quickened. On the other hand, the employees are motivated as their commission increase is directly proportional to their products and refers more customers.

Additionally, small retail business individuals have been granted a better platform to market their products while evading the need for technical expertise to initiate the system. With the changing times, businesses ought to make their products and process enticing to the clients.

Having a clue of the audience one is targeting, affiliate marketing aids in bringing the products closer to the customers, thus profitably monetizing the website.