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Then and Now of Affiliate Marketing

If you can believe it- Affiliate Marketing existed when computers looked like miniature TVs and had the simple black screen and green cursor. Twenty-seven years later- we’re still using this technique to reach multitudes of audiences and increase sales by paying out a commission to sites that refer business. But the game has changed. What does the then and now of affiliate marketing look like?

A Brief History

Prodigy Online Services was formed in 1984 as a hub for subscribers to get access to news, email, network services, banking, weather, shopping, games, polls, etc. William Tobin who owned PC Flowers and Gifts paid a commission to Prodigy beginning in 1989 to refer subscribers to his shop. In 1993, PC Flowers was generating more than 6 million dollars for Prodigy every year. And thus, affiliate marketing was born.

The Amazon Effect

Amazon changed the game around 1996 by offering their associate program where others could sell goods. Initially, this began more as media types of sales, books, music, and so on. But as affiliate programs began to bloom, Amazon’s associate program began to shape the affiliate industry into what it has become.

Today’s Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate programs such as Amazon and eBay continue to thrive as mainstream affiliate income marketing, but affiliate marketing has also grown to include online business and blogger revenues.

Technology has changed the way we campaign in affiliate marketing. Simply put, we’re more intelligent about our web traffic, website viewers, and conversion data. This is not to say prior affiliate marketing wasn’t intelligent, but the amount of insight we now have, has changed what we know, therefore changing where we use our budget and channel our efforts.

Informative Statistics and Newer Platforms

Thanks to innovative advances we now have access to which links refer a visitor, the amount of time spent on a webpage, the journey an online customer went through and the final outcome and more. With this data, we are constantly evolving our strategies to be more effective.

But the changes continue to charge ahead with the advances of Google Analytics, Google Adwords, LinkShare, Commission Junction and more. These networks offer different ways of affiliate marketing based on what the merchant is trying to accomplish. This is leaps and bounds from where affiliate marketing starting with simply posting info on a subscriber website and getting a commission off a sale.

Looking Forward

Affiliate marketing will continue to grow and so we must be prepared to look ahead. By now we all know we must market to our niche audience. Meaning we probably won’t get much out of using an affiliate site that targets gamers when trying to sell baking products. But it’s the depth of that niche that will set us apart and we find it with the intelligence we mentioned in the above section.

Our insights on consumer behavior will also continue to develop as we learn about our consumers’ buying habits. It is also important for affiliate marketing to stay on top of technology. Looking in the past we can see the effect the times have on affiliate marketing and one thing is for sure. History will always repeat itself.

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