In February 2000, Amazon announced that it had been granted a patent on components of an affiliate program. The patent application was submitted in June 1997, which predates most affiliate programs, but not PC Flowers & Gifts.com (October 1994), AutoWeb.com (October 1995), Kbkids.com/BrainPlay.com (January 1996), EPage (April 1996), and several others.
1. ShareASale has been in business for over 19 years, exclusively as an affiliate marketing network. Their technology receives accolades for speed, efficiency and accuracy and their reputation as a fair and honest business is well known within the industry. They provide affiliate programs in a wide variety of vertical markets and offer superior customer service across the board.
The advertising company sets the terms of an affiliate marketing program. Early on, companies largely paid the cost per click (traffic) or cost per mile (impressions) on banner advertisements. A technology evolved, the focus turned to commissions on actual sales or qualified leads. The early affiliate marketing programs were vulnerable to fraud because clicks could be generated by software, as could impressions.
How established is your site/blog/social media following? Do you already have an audience of 1 million or are you just getting started? Early on in your affiliate marketing journey you will probably want to have multiple options to make sure you can cover a broad field. You might want to become an Amazon Associate as well as joining one of the networks so you will have a product link to drop into any posts you do. An easy place to start is to promote the services you are using if you are enjoying their product - web hosting or email management systems like Aweber.