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The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.
Kevin Edwards, Global Client Strategy Director of AWIN, put it this way: “Data will continue to underpin the channel’s success. When one of the world’s most important marketers bemoans the state of digital marketing as opaque and lacking transparency, it sends a clear signal about the opportunity for affiliate marketing. P&G’s chief marketing officer made that statement earlier in 2017 and it should be a lightbulb moment for us about positioning the channel as the foremost, results-driven opportunity available to digital marketers. This can only be achieved if we get better at sharing significantly more data to facilitate a more three-dimensional and qualitative view of affiliate marketing beyond last click. Lifetime value holds the key to building a more rounded view of the power of affiliates to deliver quality customers.”
In November 1994, CDNow launched its BuyWeb program. 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. 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. Geffen asked CDNow if it could design a program where CDNow would handle the order fulfillment. Geffen realized that CDNow could link directly from the artist on its website to Geffen's website, bypassing the CDNow home page and going directly to an artist's music page.
If my piece of content is so unique and valuable around hiking backpack recommendations, that other reputable outdoor websites are willing to link to it and build the page’s authority, then I’d have a very real opportunity to rank high in organic search for these search terms (meaning, my page will come up first when someone searches for hiking backpacks).