In some cases, the purchaser arrives at a page where the affiliate cookie gets set, then leaves and makes a purchase via the PPC channel sometime before the affiliate cookie expires. Other times, the purchaser may click a PPC link, fail to make a purchase, but later purchase via an affiliate link. In both scenarios, the affiliate marketing channel played a part in the sale, but the role was different.
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.