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History Of Affiliate Marketing

Now when almost every active internet user have heard about affiliate marketing, and how to make money from it, now you should know that where affiliate marketing came from. Although people think that affiliate marketing term is meant for world wide web, but the history of affiliate marketing is way back before world wide web arrived. 

Affiliate marketing was first started by “William J. Tobin” who owned “PC Flowers & Gifts”. He also considered as the first person holding the title of first internet marketer. In 1989 he patented internet affiliate marketing and launched it on Prodigy Network. In 1994 beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts was launched on internet in association with IBM, who owned half the Prodigy Network. 


  1. In November 1994 Buy Web Program launched by CDNOW with the idea of music sites would be able to review albums on their page and users could interested in purchasing. 
  2. In 1994 Epage was founded which is one of the first dot com companies and manage to get through dot com bubble burst. 


  1. In 1996 Epage started an affiliate program under the guidance of Brad Waller and it is still running the most earliest affiliate program on the web.
  2. In July 1996 Amazon launched its associates program, its associates can place text and banner links on their site for individual book or direct to the the home page of Amazon. 
  3. BeFree was established in 1996 by Johnson and Samuel Gerace (brothers) and was relatively effective. 
  4. LinkShare was also established in 1996 by Stephen and Heidi Messer (brother and sister) and is still significant on the internet these days. Rakuten Inc. acquired it in 2005.


In 1997, Wayne Marciano released ‘’ which was a site developed to take together all the prime Affiliate Networks with an overview snapshot of their profile for the attention and comfort of both affiliates and merchants as well. This was the first of what became known as an ‘Affiliate Program Directory’.


DoubleClick was established in 1998 as an Application Service Provider for Online promotion. 

In 1998, Allan Gardyne released ‘’, and many others such as ‘’ and ‘’ also established that same year (although ReveNews only one maintaining its article and information sharing aspects). Many Affiliate Program Directories did not survive through the burst.


In Feb 2000, Amazon declared that it had been granted a patent on components of affiliate program. 


In 2002 BeFree was obtained by ValueClick (an internet promotion company), and stopped its operation in 2008 after ValueClick encouraged a conversion of its associates to another on the acquisition, ‘Commission Junction’.


After 2000 affiliate marketing experienced some significant changes. First of all the burst brought a lot of people down to reality. It was no longer a sure thing, instead, promoters in this niche actually required to understand the game a bit better. Books regarding this subject started to overflow online book shops. For those who couldn't wrote a book, small guides  and whitepapers offering the ‘secrets’ to affiliate marketing jumped up on sites, and could be downloadable – for a price. Conventional advertising models like e-mail subscribers started to be integrated into sites providing education. There are also Affiliate events started to began arriving.

  • Two affiliate marketers, Shawn Collins and Missy Ward founded “Affiliate Summit” in 2003.
  • The annual conference of Commission Junction – Commission Junction University
  • The annual conference of LinkShare – Linkshare Symposium


Google acquired DoubleClick in 2008 and it was re-branded as the ‘Google Affiliate Network (GAN)’.
“GAN” Google Affiliate Network also started inviting some special guest on their annual conference.

affiliate marketing-timeline

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