Many merchants will still give credit for this sale to the affiliate, even though the visitor came directly to the site and not through an affiliate link when they completed their purchase. This is a fair solution in many cases, since many customers take time to make a decision and commit to a purchase. In the scenario above, the affiliate still provided a valuable service to the merchant–getting the customer to their site–and deserves to be compensated for that.

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.[8][9]
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