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In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.
At the beginning, Murphy created her own affiliate program in house. She found that this process was a major time sink — she had to take the time to constantly monitor her program and remember to pay affiliates regularly. She made the jump on an affiliate network, where she could immediately access tracking, reporting, and payment systems (as well as instant access to affiliates who were more-than-ready to help sell her products).
Almost nobody buys just one thing on Amazon at a time: This is one of my favorite aspects of marketing for Amazon. When someone clicks through your link to purchase your recommendation, they will probably purchase additional products. You get a commission for everything they purchase after they click through your link (more about this later in the post).
Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.