Affiliate Programs: Creating Online Monsters since 1994

Advertising is the soul of commerce, a wise man once said. In our society, where constant consumption is needed to keep companies alive, advertising has become a presence that we can hardly escape. Ads come at us in the streets, in the magazines, on the radio, on TV, on public transportation, online… pretty much everywhere we are. And most of the times, it’s inevitable – aside from websites that have ad blockers, ads crawl into our line of sight without any barriers. But even ad blockers are powerless to block some more modern forms of advertising online, like native ads and affiliate links. And even though there are many who use these instruments the right way, these – especially the latter – have given birth to some awful monsters over the two decades they have been in our lives.

Affiliate programs – a brief history

Revenue sharing – paying a commission for intermediaries bringing paying customers to the seller – is a concept that has appeared in 1994, only four years after the birth of the World Wide Web. The concept, patented by PC Flowers & Gifts William J. Tobin, is simple: convince website owners to direct buyers to your online store and pay them a percentage of the sales as a commission. As eCommerce has grown from novelty to a valid – and viable – business model, affiliate marketing has grown like wildfire, especially in some areas with limited access to traditional forms of advertising – like online casinos, for example. Today, affiliate marketing is a big business, generating billions in revenues for publishers and driving sales online like never before.

Affiliates can receive two forms of commissions: a one-time sum paid upon purchase or a smaller percentage of the revenue they receive in the long term for any subsequent purchase made by the referred customer.

Marketing monsters

There are many website owners that abuse of their right to publish information, especially when it comes to some of the more controversial businesses, like online casinos for example. When it comes to online gambling, there are quite a few sources that correctly inform their readers why they should go mobile with 7Sultans, what new content the 7Sultans has added to its library, and what promotions and special offers they can redeem if they register an account with the 7Sultans casino. Unfortunately, for every website correctly informing customers about their options, there are ten that shamelessly contort information with a single goal – cashing in on the commission. These are what some like to call “monsters”.

“Monsters” prefer one-time commissions because most of the times, they are exaggerating at best (lying at worst) about the product they want to sell. They are perfectly aware of this fact and don’t even try to make long-term commitments. They are like the predators that quickly grab the slowest herbivore in the herd instead of capturing and domesticating a pair for the benefit of both.

Hopefully, internet shoppers will grow out of their gullibility and we’ll see these sneaky monsters weeded out of the online ecosystem sooner rather than later.