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Affiliate marketing is a technique that involves inter-brand cooperation in promoting a good or service. In one of its simplest forms, affiliate marketing consists of one brand, company or individual promoting a product (likely in exchange for some sort of commission) on behalf of another brand, company or individual. Its intended function is to expose one brand to another’s customer base, and is typically done when there is some sort of similarity between the two brands that might draw common interest. The rise of the internet has enabled a diverse range of opportunity in affiliate marketing, largely by way of data tracking (such as web cookies) and analytics.
Affiliate marketing was a very early implementation of marketing strategy via the web. Several different industries are associated with its origins (such as flower delivery, music and even adult entertainment) but it is difficult to track an exact origin, partially due to its rapid expansion concurrent with the rise of the world wide web in the 1990s.
As the web grew and changed, online marketing became increasingly diverse and in many cases, profitable. There have been a couple different tech bubbles that have had significant effects on e-commerce and digital marketing, but affiliate marketing is a technique that seems to remain profitable.