Marketing Terms

Affiliate Marketing


Revenue sharing between affiliate merchants (advertisers) and affiliates (publishers), whereby compensation is based on performance measures (sales or leads).


The advertisers/merchants are typically referred to as affiliate merchants and the publishers/salespeople are referred to as affiliates.

Benefits of affiliate marketing include the potential for automating much of the advertising process (accepting & approving applications, generating unique sales links, tracking & reporting of results) and payment only for desired results (sales, registrations, clicks).

Paying only for performance shifts much of the advertising risk from the merchants to the affiliates, although merchants still assume some risk of fraud from partner sites.

Affiliate marketing has contributed to the rise of many leading online companies., one of the first significant adopters, now has hundreds of thousands of affiliate relationships. It is not uncommon to see industries where the major players have affiliate programs–often structured in a similar manner and making similar competitive changes over time.


Affiliate Income Calculator – estimate how much you can earn in a year from affiliate marketing. 

Marketing Calculators – a growing collection of best-in-class calculators.

The Early Day of Affiliate Marketing

The Four Myths of Affiliate Marketing
ClickZ (September 6, 2002)

Reports of Affiliate Programs’ Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
ClickZ (August 23, 2002)

An Affiliate Marketing Primer: Part III
ClickZ (June 8, 2001)

An Affiliate Marketing Primer: Part II
ClickZ (June 1, 2001)

An Affiliate Marketing Primer: Part I
ClickZ (May 25, 2001)

Market-Share Update: Affiliate Marketing on the Move
ClickZ (March 16, 2001)

Affiliate Marketing Is Alive and Very Well
ClickZ (November 24, 2000)

History of Affiliate Marketing
ClickZ (November 10, 2000)

What is Affiliate Marketing?
ClickZ (July 28, 2000)

Affiliate Marketing’s Last Stand?
ClickZ (January 13, 2000)

Related Terms

affiliate manageraffiliate merchant, affiliate network, affiliate software, two-tier affiliate program

view all terms in the Affiliate Marketing glossary or all terms in the Digital Marketing glossary