Affiliate marketing is defined as partnering Merchants with Affiliates on a commission-based compensation structure. Affiliate marketing has really caught on in the last 5 years but has been around since the 1990s. It started out in the adult world paying webmasters for clicks to adult sites. Once mainstream companies caught on to the effectiveness of the affiliate model and how well it worked in the online space, the industry started evolving into a real, legitimate force in the online marketing world. Linkshare and Commission junction were the first 2 large affiliate networks to build a system that electronically tracked the affiliate-merchant relationship. They then recruited advertisers to launch on their network and started recruiting affiliates ie webmasters and site owners to join their affiliate networks. Over the years affiliate marketing has grown and expanded tremendously to become a major force in the online world. Having an affiliate program is an absolutely must for any ecommerce or lead generation company that wants to grow their traffic and revenue online. Linkshare has an exclusivity agreement with their merchants which makes it so Linkshare and CJ have completely different merchants to choose from so you pretty much have to joined to both networks to get the full scope of whats available to represent. Shareasale is another good affiliate network and is sometimes used to test the affiliate market with sites. Shareasale can be very good for merchants to be a part of. Affiliates come in all spaces and sizes. All affiliates, as long as they are not trying to fraud your system, are valuable and should be treated as such. Affiliates should be the foundation of your website’s traffic and major attention should be paid to growing your affiliate program. Affiliates have become savvy over the years and they should be treated well to ensure they will want to work with your company. Don’t take it for granted that affiliates will signup for your program and start producing. Affiliate managers have to work with affiliates to teach them how to make sales online. There are some affiliates that don’t need any assistance, but the majority of affiliates can really benefit from an experienced affiliate manager. This is a brief history of affiliate marketing. If you would like to learn more about affiliate marketing and how to successfully manage and grow an affiliate program, please contact us today. Thanks and get out there and drive some visitors!