For those new to this powerful online merchandising concept, affiliate programs work as intermediaries between the affiliate marketers who will sell products and services and the merchant who provides those products and services as well as the affiliates programs. Merchants work with affiliates to help get their products or services to their consumers.
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.