The web became a place where people could find information, news, products, opinions, inspiration, data. Terms like e-commerce, website traffic and banner ads emerged. As the world increasingly decided to spend their time and money online, marketers began inventing ways to leverage this communication channel, and opportunities for website owners to partner began. Content creators conceptualized ways to monetize their sites – ways to get paid for the exposure they could give merchants to their site visitors. Merchants found ways to reach new audiences and pay only when they converted.
The criteria and metrics can be classified according to its type and time span. Regarding the type, we can either evaluate these campaigns "Quantitatively" or "Qualitatively". Quantitative metrics may include "Sales Volume" and "Revenue Increase/Decrease". While qualitative metrics may include the enhanced "Brand awareness, image and health" as well as the "relationship with the customers".
To summarise, flexibility and an understanding of the motivations for different affiliate types is the key factor in setting an intelligent commission structure for any affiliate programme. A full appreciation of the finer details should ultimately result in greater engagement with affiliates and crucially an increase in branding, sales and revenue.
The new digital era has enabled brands to selectively target their customers that may potentially be interested in their brand or based on previous browsing interests. Businesses can now use social media to select the age range, location, gender and interests of whom they would like their targeted post to be seen by. Furthermore, based on a customer's recent search history they can be ‘followed’ on the internet so they see advertisements from similar brands, products and services, This allows businesses to target the specific customers that they know and feel will most benefit from their product or service, something that had limited capabilities up until the digital era.
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.