The Past, Present, and Future of Affiliate Marketing

The Good Old Days

Remember the good old days?  You’d purchase a domain name, set up your site (with a few swear words here and there), and place some banner ads (while crossing your fingers for the best banner ad click-through results).  This all worked great–for a while; until people managed to avoid our banner ads like the plague.  Life got more complex. What were us internet marketers to do?  We had to become more savvy.  Fortunately for us, the affiliate model was introduced.

Ah, the affiliate marketing model. It never hurts to get a little help from your friends, right?  Affiliate marketing networks offer a wide range of advantages to businesses.  In short: it’s a booming business with dollar signs all around it.  Sure, affiliate marketing can be a profitable business, but it can also be very aggravating, time consuming, and antisocial.  So here’s the big question: Why the heck do we keep putting ourselves through all of this pain?  The answer, although seemingly complex, is quite simple: easy money.

 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The average person thinks of affiliate marketing as a “get rich quick” scheme for geeks and nerds.  Actually, it’s the farthest thing from the truth.  Nowadays, you’re just as likely to find a High School dropout behind an affiliate marketing operation; as you are to find a computer science major.

Despite the revenue advantages, many successful affiliate managers are weary of transparent affiliates.  After all, there’s a lot of trickery out there.  You have to be on the lookout for the ‘Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’.  That’s right folk, if you’re the good guy, beware of the bad and the ugly affiliates.  They’re out there right now placing infectious adware on an unsuspecting consumer’s computer.

As a marketer, it’s your responsibility to investigate your affiliates use of adware.  Don’t turn your head and look the other way.  It’s OUR consumers that may receive unwanted and/or destructive ads.  Can you blame them for becoming angry at the marketer who (perhaps inadvertently) funds adware infections?  Of course not.  Destructive ads shouldn’t even be considered a marketing strategy.  It’s completely unethical.

The New Guy

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is a great starting point.  If you experience success–run with the ball.  Explore additional performance compensation structures.  But before you even consider jumping into the game, you should ask yourself the following questions (to avoid business pitfalls):

1) Will affiliate marketing assist you in reaching all of your business targets?

2) Will affiliate marketing have advantages over other types of online marketing?

3) Do you have the time and commitment to run a developing affiliate operation (which will require time to flourish and succeed?

4) How flexible is your budget for affiliate marketing?  

Here’s some background information for the ‘new guy’: Time and commitment are essential to your success.  While running a network of affiliates doesn’t require a college degree, it does require your attention for details.  Perhaps this is why merchants find outsourced providers offer a very appealing solution.  In addition, the new guy should realize:

  • Not everyone will make five figures a month with affiliate marketing.  There’s a lot of marketers out there.  You’re the new guy, remember?  Find some successful companies that use affiliate marketing.  Research them.  What did they do to become such a success?  Can you duplicate that plan?
  • You’re not going to make any money eating potato chips in front of the television.  If it were that easy–I’d be doing that instead of writing this article on affiliate marketing.  Be prepared to devote a lot of time to your business and your affiliate relations.
  • Don’t take blind referrals from anyone!  You’ll discover the best affiliate opportunities through your own research.

The Future

In just the last few years, affiliate marketing has become a very powerful force on ecommerce.  Every day thousands, if not millions, of merchants rely on affiliate marketing to drive their businesses.  But is affiliate marketing all just a big hype?  What ever happened to customer service?  What strange times we live in; as the value of business is no longer placed on the customer, but on the relationship with whoever facilitated the connection.

This just goes to prove that affiliate marketing is only as good as the people who run it.  Remember, there are ways to get your affiliate program noticed; just make sure that you get it noticed for the right reasons.

By: Marissa Ranello

Taken from