You might notice that when you have been browsing a website looking for something, (for example, a pair of shoes), then you will start to see ads for those shoes when you're browsing the internet. The reason this happens is the cookies on your computer. Alternatively, you clicked 'yes' when you got asked if you wanted the website to remember your username and password.
Advertisers love affiliate marketing because it involves minimal risk. If a sufficient margin is built in as compensation for the affiliate, it becomes impossible to lose money. That’s because affiliates are generally only paid when a sale is completed (i.e., a lead is converted). Advertisers (or “merchants”) pay nothing for leads that don’t convert.
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.
Considering that most marketing involves some form of published media, it is almost (though not entirely) redundant to call 'content marketing' anything other than simply 'marketing'. There are, of course, other forms of marketing (in-person marketing, telephone-based marketing, word of mouth marketing, etc.) where the label is more useful for identifying the type of marketing. However, even these are usually merely presenting content that they are marketing as information in a way that is different from traditional print, radio, TV, film, email, or web media.
An aesthetically pleasing and informational website is an excellent anchor that can easily connect to other platforms like social networking pages and app downloads. It's also relatively simple to set up a blog within the website that uses well-written content with “keywords” an Internet user is likely to use when searching for a topic. For example, a company that wants to market its new sugar-free energy drink could create a blog that publishes one article per week that uses terms like “energy drink,” “sugar-free,” and “low-calorie” to attract users to the product website.
When do you want to get started? If you are just starting and have no audience then some of the programs may not accept your application to become an affiliate, while others will let you get set up in minutes. If you want to get started straight away then make sure you’re applying for programs that are less restrictive. Generally the larger, network style places will enable you to get going quickly while specific niche programs may require you to have a certain audience size or characteristics.