It is hard to imagine just now much the world has changed over the last twenty years. One of the biggest ways it has changed for marketers is with the truly incredible growth of performance, or affiliate marketing. Most people mark 1994 as the year affiliate marketing got started, when William Tobin began harnessing the power of the internet and affiliates to promote his company, PC Flowers & Gifts. That makes online affiliate marketing 20 years old this year.
There are some people who try to set the real beginning of this type of marketing to 1996, when Amazon.com launched their associates program, but as far as I’m concerned, the credit stays with Mr. Tobin.
Whatever your personal opinion about the matter, it is amazing to look back at how this fairly young form of marketing has changed the world.
Matthew Wood, who started the affiliates4u forum back in 1999 commented about the early days of online affiliate saying, “It was an exciting industry with an easy sell to retailers, I mean, who wouldn’t want to pay on performance at a time where CPM rates were going through the roof?”
Then, as now, the affiliate model was changing and growing quite rapidly. In addition, there was not the massive amount of information out there to help new affiliates get started. Shawn Collins, who became the Co-Founder of Affiliate Summit Conferences, said the following about this thoughts and feelings when he was just starting out as an Amazon affiliate in 1997, “I could not find anybody else that was doing it and there were no forums, newsletters, ect.”
He went on to say, “I was working in magazine publishing and wanted something different so I responded to a job listing to run an affiliate program for MedBookStore.com. I got the job because I knew some of the buzzwords and was willing to work for cheap. I made it up as I went along, and through experimentation I figured out some methods and practices that worked.”
You can read more comments from early industry leaders on PerformIN’s blog post on this subject, HERE. Also, please share your stories about how you got into affiliate marketing, and how it has changed your life. Make sure to include how long it’s been since you started!