The seller, whether a solo entrepreneur or large enterprise, is a vendor, merchant, product creator, or retailer with a product to market. The product can be a physical object, like household goods, or a service, like makeup tutorials. Also known as the brand, the seller does not need to be actively involved in the marketing, but they may also be the advertiser and profit from the revenue sharing associated with affiliate marketing.
Under most affiliate marketing arrangements, advertisers only pay for converted leads. There is basically no way they can lose money or get a negative ROI with this marketing method. Each new sale generated may have a thin margin after the affiliate payment is made, but it’s possible to structure in such a way that eliminates the possibility of a loss.
Once you acquire a new customer through one of your affiliate partners, they've entered your ecosystem and you can direct market to that customer without going through your affiliates. Remember to consider that long term value of your customers into the equation when deciding your commission structure. For many businesses, I wouldn't care if I broke-even on affiliate sales – so long as I had a way to maximize the long term value of each new customer they brought me. As you probably know from experience, breaking even on acquiring customers to your sales funnel is nothing to sneeze at in e-commerce. There are many circumstances where I'd literally do that unlimited times if given the option!
A sound product strategy is a must for new affiliate marketers. Ideally, you should choose a niche that you can make money online with and has a lot of product vendors. This will give you a wide selection of products to offer your online community. However, limit yourself to two or three products at a time, so that you become the expert others turn to and trust when reaching for their wallet.
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.