Affiliate marketing is has a rich history in the internet world. It is by far, one of the most popular models used for starting an online business because it is far superior compared to other business opportunities on the internet.

It is now a multi-billion dollar industry and shows no sign of slowing down. But how did affiliate marketing start out back in the day?

Before the interwebs: the expression “affiliate marketing” is synonymous with the internet. Most people don’t realise that it did actually exist before the internet came along. There are many examples of offline affiliate marketing still in use to this very day.

for example when a store company offers a discount or financial reward for you bringing in referral customers. This is basically the affiliate marketing business model in operation. The downside to this type of offline affiliate marketing is that you are unable to track referrals. It isn’t data-driven like affiliate marketing is today in the online world.

I think its fair to say that the internet changed everything. This includes advertising and marketing. In fact, the internet has completely revolutionised how we market and advertise products and services to people.

The introduction of the digital cookie changed everything for affiliate marketing. It made much easier to trace the impact of advertising by allowing to track user behaviours and assign affiliate ID’s to prospects. This enabled affiliate to be compensated for referrals, even if the customers took 2 weeks to come back to the site and make a purchase.

What was the first affiliate marketing program? 

In 1989 a man called William J. Tobin created the first official affiliate marketing program. He owned a company called PC flowers & Gifts.

This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you but Amazon were one of the first companies to launch an affiliate marketing program. Amazon Associates was launched in 1996 and was a game-changer for affiliate marketing as it attracted a lot of attention from people and companies all over the world. Amazon was the bastion of affiliate marketing in the internet world.

Affiliate networks – In 1998 was the year that some of the first affiliate networks launched. The first two being Commission Junction and Clickbank. These networks made affiliate marketing much more accessible to smaller online retailers by offering payment solutions and management of merchants and affiliates.

After the first two affiliate networks became established, thousands of other affiliate programs were created many people have since taken advantages of the fantastic opportunities that are presented with some affiliate programs. The best affiliate programs tend to be the ones that enable affiliates to earn high-ticket commissions for their product referrals. These are products and services that sell for thousands of dollars and the commissions that many affiliates are raking in nowadays are huge.