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A brief introduction to affiliate marketing By Tom Conway.  

Affiliate marketing gives website owners an opportunity to earn commission based income from your visitors. The example below is based on sample content from 

In our example , original website content  is combined with advertising from Google, and content from affiliate marketing channels, resulting in an improved experience for the visitor, and a variety of potential income streams.

1. The affiliate marketing opportunity

2. Merchants

3. Affiliate marketing agencies

4. What do affiliate marketing agencies do?

5. How does the affiliate marketing model work?

6. How does this differ from advertising such as Google Adsense?

7. Implementing into your web site

8. Example affiliate banners

9. Example affiliate Content widgets

10.Promoting specific products or pages

11. Summary

Content copyright T J Conway 2011

All rights reserved

Figure 1. Affiliate Marketing : Anatomy of a web page


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Figure 1. Affiliate Marketing : Anatomy of a web page

1. The opportunity

A Business to Business opportunity, use your web site(s) .

The relationship is between Merchants and Affiliates.

The affiliate receives rewards for sending traffic or customers to the merchant.

The affiliate has an opportunity to add products or services to the web site, without incurring cost of holding stock, shipping, or processing payments.

The affiliate can create a more interesting web site with improved content.

The affiliate can gain benefit from association with well-known brands.

2. Merchants

Many high street retailers, and thousands of other businesses,  including services such as financial services, energy companies, and technology providers.  

3. Affiliate marketing agencies

There are many affiliate marketing agencies and businesses who facilitate affiliate /Merchant relationships.

Note: You do not have to use agencies and could contact merchants directly to negotiate on a one to one basis. This is generally a more difficult and time consuming process, and requires suitable tracking systems to be developed and put in place, which may be costly)

Examples include:







4. What do affiliate marketing agencies do?

Agencies typically will be responsible for a level of Brand management, ensuring affiliates are suitable matches for the merchant brand, and that merchant policies are followed.

Affiliate recruitment. Agencies may be involved in attracting suitable affiliates.

Provide a mechanism for affiliates to select banners, content and other facilities to track, monitor and process traffic, sales, payments etc.

5. How does the affiliate marketing model work?

You would register with your chosen agencies. Usually free to register, though some charge a nominal fee , which is typically refunded once you are accepted

(e.g affiliatewindow currently charges £5 , which will be refunded upon acceptance subject to terms and condistions)  The agency will usually have a process to ensure your website meets their programme requirements.

Once registered, you can apply to join your chosen merchants. They may or may not accept your application.    It is important to consider the type of merchant who has products /services that will be of interest to your visitors, and where you can add value to the merchant.

In the case of  the Vision4art web site , original content consists of art and photography with a variety of themes including music, dance , fashion etc. This gives the opportunity to work with a variety of merchants including those who sell paintings and prints, music (CD and mp3),music related technology, and posters , as well as merchants who sell clothing and fashion accessories.


a selection of original content from

Merchants will have details of their affiliate programmes, a choice of banner ad’s , content widgets (see examples later) text links etc.

The merchant will specify commission rates, and usually guidance for affiliates.

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6. How does this differ from Advertising such as Google Adsense?

Google adsense is a ‘Pay per click ‘ mechanism.

This means that if a visitor clicks on an advert you will receive a payment for the click. This is based on a percentage of the advertisers payment to Google.

The advert content is determined usually by Google, matched to your page , based on the Google assessment of your content , and potentially suitable adverts.

In contrast, the affiliate mechanism is generally designed to reward affilates based based on a percentage of sales.

(note some also offer flat fees/fixed rates/bonus comissions etc.) 

The affiliate mechanism allows you to choose the content and advertisers.

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7. Implementing into your Web Site

Once accepted by the agency, and having successfully applied to merchants, you will choose the banners etc. that you wish to add to your site. You will need the ability to add the code for your chosen content to your web site. You may be able to do this yourself, or your web developer may do this for you.

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8. Example banners

Typically banners will direct the person clicking on it to the home page of the merchant, although some are designed to land on other pages of the Merchant site. The examples below from Affiatewindow show banners from ArtRepubic, M & S, and Attitude Clothing.




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9. Example Content Widget

Content widgets allow you to select and show specific products to your visitors, typically allowing you to choose format (e.g. number of products, method of display, your choice of products, and whether to display prices  or other details. These are examples from Amazon posters, and Affiliatewindow (HMV for the Ramones , and cameras from Comet) . Clicking will take the visitor to the specific product page.




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10. Promoting specific products or pages

You may be able to choose specific products/merchant pages  and link directly to them.  Here we have products from The National Gallery via Affilatewindow. This differs from content widgets in that you choose the destination once the visitor clicks on a link. In the case of the fine art gifts example below, (showing the sculpture by Degas,) the link is directed to a gifts page first.   

Buy a print of Judith by Gustav Klimt


Edgar Degas little dancer figurine

Fine art Gifts , inlcuding The Little Dancer Figurine , by Edgar Degas.

Buy a print of the self portrait Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

Buy a print of Green Dancers by Degas


Buy a print of Campbells soup 1 , print by Andy warhol

Andy Warhol

starry night  vincent van gogh

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

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11. Affiliate marketing Summary

Affiliate marketing offers businesses an opportunity to work together.

You will need some time , and the ability to add content to your web site.

Focus on content and your visitor interests before you work on seo (search engine optimisation.)

Consider merchants based on your visitor profile, and products /services that will add value for visitors. 

Do consider the impact on your own brand, your business marketing strategy, and your business plan.

For more information on affiliate and other online marketing strategies contact us at

Content copyright T J Conway 2011

All rights reserved


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