Affiliate marketing has evolved from the early years when some touted it as the future of online advertising, and others claimed it was the downfall of the medium. It's now a sophisticated channel that generates anywhere from five to 25% of online sales for many of the world's biggest brands.
Almost all major multi-channel marketers have an affiliate program of some kind. The important thing to remember is that affiliate programs now come in all shapes and sizes. The concept of a wide-open affiliate program with an unlimited and uncontrolled number of affiliates is a thing of the past. Nearly all marketers agree that affiliates add value to an online marketing effort, but the program must be tailored to meet the marketer's objectives.
Affiliate marketing did not bring an end to other, higher priced forms of online media advertising. The success of the affiliate marketing in delivering sales cost effectively by way of a pay-for-performance model paved the way for other forms of performance-based advertising, such as CPA-based search and portal advertising, to create acceptance among direct marketers. Affiliate marketing has evolved, with affiliates and marketers becoming more sophisticated and programs more integrated with other forms of online marketing.