Affiliate marketing is a marketing method in which an online or a ‘brick and mortar’ based business rewards affiliates (internet marketers)
For sales, leads or conversions brought to them by the affiliate marketers efforts. An example of this is: a rewards site, where internet affiliate marketers are rewarded with gifts or cash, for a valid completion of a ‘Free Ipod’ offer.
The Affiliate Marketing industry has three basic components:
The merchant or retailer or brand (Ebay, Best Buy, aWeber etc.)
The network or the publisher (known as ‘the affiliate marketer’)
and the end customer purchasing or participating in the merchants product, marketed by the publisher
Affiliate marketing has grown exponentially in size to warrant a secondary tier to manage the merchants and publishers, known as CPA companies. Affiliate marketing may also overlap the other various Internet marketing methods to some degree, as the affiliates will often use the same advertising methods used by the merchants. Those methods may include organic (SEO) search engine optimization, media ads and pay per click marketing, e-mail marketing, and display advertising. The affiliates will also use unconventional, more creative methods usually unknown by the merchant to draw in conversions. These methods may include unbiased ‘peer to peer’ reviews, or the use of social media (twitter, facebook etc.), to promote the products and/or services offered by the merchants.
Internet marketing is now a multi-billion dollar business and at times can be perpetrated by not so honest internet marketing sites, and persons involving in offering a variety of ‘bad’ products and services. The end user may often be tricked by a legitimate looking website and effective marketing practices. They are usually convinced into giving their credit card or Paypal information in exchange for usually digital products or services. The goods may never arrive, or are of poor quality counterfeit products, products which are worth far less than those advertised.
When there is a credit card transaction involved, the perpetrators may at times also use the credit card information to make additional purchases of their own. An example may be suspect internet marketing websites that advertise free membership access, but require a credit card “for verification purposes”
Internet marketing involving popular health or diet products may sell fake or poor products that don’t simply work. These products may advertise an easy way to lose weight fast, or an instant cure for a serious existing disease. All with sensational unrealistic claims.
The consumers that find these types of websites often submit their Paypal or credit card information, and fraudulent charges will usually be made even after the card or order is canceled. Consumer protection laws in most countries will hold the credit card company liable, and will force them to refund the money for the goods or services purchased with the card, for products or goods that are not delivered, or are fake. The credit card company will have to often absorb the loss, but these costs at the end are always passed back to consumers in forms of higher interest rates or fees.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, usually involves a supposed specialist in Internet marketing, presenting a prospective client or company (affiliate or merchant), with sales information such as detailed statistics or charts and graphs, indicating that the client’s website will receive additional increased “visitors” per day or month based on his method. The internet specialist will claims their service will increase web traffic and conversions, thus increasing the site owners sales revenue. Usually, the proposed services does not provide any difference at all.