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 February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.
When formulating a commission structure, the first step is to consider all stakeholders involved in the transaction. Even though affiliate marketing is entirely performance-based — and nary a nickel gets paid unless a transaction occurs — there are several different parties taking a cut of that sale. The affiliate gets a percentage. The affiliate network gets a percentage. And, your affiliate manager might take a percentage. What initially seemed as a no-risk marketing channel could be one of your most expensive.
The “matchmaking” service–offering access to a pool of merchants–is the role of a network that likely comes to mind first. But the administrative workload handled by networks can’t be overlooked; they handle all the tracking, reporting, and payment processing that arises during the steps shown above. While that might not seem like much, it can add up to a significant amount of time each week.
Similarly, voucher code sites can be classified as an affiliate group and can deliver high sales volumes. If a voucher code is issued then it is possible to set up a commission rate that is lower to offset the fact that you will already be taking a hit on margins to offer a discount (again, consultation with relevant affiliates will allow you to make a more informed judgment).
In the case of cost per mille/click, the publisher is not concerned about whether a visitor is a member of the audience that the advertiser tries to attract and is able to convert, because at this point the publisher has already earned his commission. This leaves the greater, and, in case of cost per mille, the full risk and loss (if the visitor cannot be converted) to the advertiser.
The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.