What is affiliation and how does it work? Affiliation or affiliate marketing refers to the practice of sending an internet user from his own media to that of an advertiser and receiving a commission for specific actions (sales, leads or registrations) that he will perform and that the advertiser remunerates.
Technically, affiliation primarily relies on the use of navigation trackers. When an internet user performs the desired action on the advertiser's site, the latter checks for the presence of the tracker to know if it should pay one of its affiliates.
How does affiliation work?
Affiliation is a commercial agreement between two parties. One remunerates the other as a business contributor. Concretely, if you bring a customer to a merchant, the latter will give you a portion of its profits. On the internet, this is done by placing a tracker in the visitor's browser when he clicks on the link that redirects him to the merchant's site. Thus, in the case of a sale, the presence of the tracker allows the seller to know to whom it should pay a commission.
Generally, an affiliate platform takes care of managing the trackers and checking the attribution of sales. Affiliate platforms bring together a diverse pool of advertisers who are looking for affiliates to acquire traffic.
Affiliates who are able to generate a lot of traffic that converts on partner sites can earn several thousands of euros each month, or even hundreds of thousands for the largest ones. Different remuneration models exist; consult our dedicated article on the subject.
The different actors in this ecosystem
In general, three actors are present in affiliate marketing: the affiliate, the advertiser, and the affiliate platform. The affiliate platform acts as an intermediary between the advertiser and the affiliate, connecting them and ensuring the technical and commercial smoothness of their agreement.
By registering on an affiliate platform, you have access to a catalog of advertisers from which you can apply to participate in their affiliate program. You will find the conditions of compensation, the compensation models, and the specific conditions.
💡 Among the specific conditions, it is often forbidden to purchase keywords containing the brand name, in order to avoid advertisers competing with their affiliates during their advertising campaigns. Failure to comply with these conditions can result in the end of a partnership.
The platform provides you with the links or banners associated with an advertiser. When a user clicks on one of these elements placed on your media, a tracker is placed on their browser, regardless of the device used (computer, smartphone, or tablet). This tracker contains an essential information: your affiliate identifier. On the advertiser's site, after the transaction, the platform's script assigns sales based on the visitor's source site.
Finally, on the affiliate platform, you will find a report section that indicates all the statistics related to your partnerships: number of clicks on links, number of banner displays, number of sales or leads, advertiser's revenue, and your commission. All of these performance indicators will give you information about your results and are interesting to analyze in order to improve your content.
Some players have their own technology to track sales; this is the case for two types of players:
Those with significant human and financial resources like Amazon.
Small actors who do not want to work with intermediaries. (They generally rely on turnkey software)
Here are some examples of platforms to join to get started:
Commission Junction (CJ Affiliate)
Avangate Affiliate Network
Awin (previously Affiliate Window)
Awin (ex Zanox & Affili-net)
What tools do you need to start with Affiliate Marketing?
To start generating income, you need to direct traffic to partner sites. To do this, you need a media to communicate on, whether it be a website, an email database, a YouTube/Twitch channel, or a social media account.
In the case of a website, many ready-to-use sites exist. Some hosts even offer to install it with a single click. The most well-known is probably WordPress. If you are an experienced user, you can buy a domain name and set up your site in a few hours. Otherwise, many tutorials available online explain step-by step how to buy a domain name, install WordPress, and configure it.
To affiliate with video platforms, you need knowledge of video editing and/or streaming equipment.
Finally, for social networks, knowledge of video editing is also desirable, although you can start with a simple smartphone.
Among all these models, the website is currently the most flexible. It has proven itself, requires technical investment for its setup but remains relatively inexpensive to create. It also has the advantage of being a perennial asset that you may be able to sell someday.
💡 In the case of video platforms (YouTube, Twitch) and social networks (Instagram, TikTok, Twitter), the market is less permissive than a website, but it allows everyone to generate revenue with a basic smartphone: a simple video post with a trackedlink can earn you money.
For the video model, the strategy is roughly the same regardless of the platform: an introduction message that presents a partner, and a reminder to your followers that they only need to go under the video to find the offer or product presented.
Key points to remember
Becoming a business facilitator is a legal way to make money
It is easy to find partners through affiliate platforms
Developing your own site is within everyone's reach thanks to existing technologies
The internet has become a huge opportunity for those who want to become business facilitators and supplement their income. Affiliate platforms are there to frame the relationships between affiliates and advertisers. All you have to do is find the theme you want to create content on and get started.