The idea for remote purchasing originally arose from conversations with music label Geffen Records in the fall of 1994.The management at Geffen wanted to sell its artists' CD's directly from its website but did not want to implement this capability itself.These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates.Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners.Affiliate marketing has grown quickly since its inception.
Amazon was not the first merchant to offer an affiliate program, but its program was the first to become widely known and serve as a model for subsequent programs. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & (October 1994), Auto (October 1995), Kbkids.com/Brain (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.
CDNow had the idea that music-oriented websites could review or list albums on their pages that their visitors might be interested in purchasing.
These websites could also offer a link that would take visitors directly to CDNow to purchase the albums.
Still, affiliates continue to play a significant role in e-retailers' marketing strategies.
The concept of revenue sharing—paying commission for referred business—predates affiliate marketing and the Internet.