The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.
In the case of cost per mille/click, the publisher is not concerned about whether a visitor is a member of the audience that the advertiser tries to attract and is able to convert, because at this point the publisher has already earned his commission. This leaves the greater, and, in case of cost per mille, the full risk and loss (if the visitor cannot be converted) to the advertiser.
You can also establish commission tiers based on specific product categories. For example, you could pay 2 percent revenue share on electronics, and 10 percent on home decor, since the former carries a lower profit margin than the latter. A challenge of working with this dual structure is the technical integration. You will need to create a product feed for the affiliate network, and for each affiliate transaction that occurs you will have to submit item-level data to distinguish, say, electronics from home decor. Neither task is particularly challenging, but it does require some work.
Start by thinking about your audience. What kinds of products or services are they most interested in? Which products or services are you currently using that you would feel comfortable recommending to your readers? You can add links to any affiliate program to your site, but if you want to market them with authenticity, it’s best to stick to companies with which you already have some kind of connection.
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