Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The First Affiliate Programs

by Aazdak Alisimo

Affiliate programs are par for the course on the web these days, but have you ever wondered what companies were the first to take the leap and just how long ago that was?

Affiliate programs are unique in the world of business because they represent the evolution of the sales force in the brick in mortar world. A brick and mortar company has to advertise its products as well as hire salespeople to go out and move the product. It is an expensive effort. With affiliate programs, the process is so much simpler as practically anyone can signup for free to become an affiliate for a company and earn money on sales. It is a win-win in many senses.

As with many things on the web, the first affiliate programs were launched by adult sites. The adult industry is extremely competitive, which leads to it launching the first effective steps of most web technology including streaming video that eventually led to the likes of and so on. With affiliate programs, adult set the standard for a number of years before mainstream companies got their act together.

In 1994, CDNow was the first mainstream company to launch an affiliate program. The process involved music purchase programs. CDNow allowed affiliates to take music reviews and post them on their sites. When a consumer clicked a link in the review, they were taken to the site of CDNow. If they made a purchase, the affiliate was credited with a sale and revenue.

In 1996, the first big program really launched which was Amazon. It was similar to CDNow and offered affiliates the ability to put links to Amazon on their site. If people clicked through and purchased, the affiliate was credited with sales and revenue.

The story of affiliate programs is a fairly simple one. In one form or another, people click through a link on the site of an affiliate and the affiliate makes money if a desired action occurs. With some programs, the revue is derived from the consumer simply visiting the site while others require the visitor to provide certain information or, more typically, the consumer to make a purchase.

Affiliate programs have their problems and there should be no doubt in that regard. That being said, they still represent a win-win situation for companies and affiliates.

About the Author

Aazdak Alisimo writes about affiliate programs. To find information on affiliate commission programs visit


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