Affiliation marketing is the general principle by which an emerchant offer is displayed by various means and tools on a publisher partner network. The partners who bring traffic to the merchant are called affiliates and earn commissions based on merchants’ sales or leads.
According to a July 2012 Forrester’s report, US affiliate marketing spend (network fees and paid commissions) will reach $4,5 billion in 2016.
Large affiliate programs count several tens of thousands of affiliates and Amazon the biggest program is said to have more than one million affiliates worldwide.
Source : Expressions Vinyl Affiliate Program
Affiliates sign-up at no cost to merchant affiliate programs and begin to earn commissions when their application is validated by the merchant.
Affiliate marketing is often unknown to the general public, because the latter sees affiliate promotional tools and creatives as "traditionnal online advertising" materials.
Affiliate marketing is not limited to merchant websites. Editorial websites, BtoB websites, leads oriented sites and even traditional retail can use affiliate marketing.
Affiliate payments are mostly commissions on sales, but they may also be:
a fixed fee per sale
a fee for new consumers
a fee per visit (high fraud risk)
a fee per lead
a fee per call
a fee per purchase in retail store (specific tracking)
Many tools and creatives are offered to affiliates by affiliate program owners to promote product and services:
text links created by links generator
banners and other ad units
white label catalog
Affiliate links offered by iTunes affiliate program:
Every affiliate link encompasses an affiliate ID which enable the merchant or the affiliate platform to assign a sale or action to a given affiliate and to record the due commission.
Merchants may directly manage their programs or use an affiliate network or platform.
Affiliate marketing by IAB UK:
Click here to see an affiliate program showcase by eBay:
Affiliate Marketing Overview for Beginners by Lisa Irby: