Soft commissions (or "soft dollars") are a transaction-based payment made by an asset manager to a broker-dealer that is not paid in actual dollars. Soft commissions allow investment companies and institutional funds to cover some of their expenses through trading commissions as opposed to normal direct payments via hard-dollar fees, which must be reported. For example, receiving research from a counterparty in exchange for using their brokerage services. Thus, the expense would be classified as a trading commission and at the same time would lower their reported expenses on research in this instance. The investing public tends to have a negative perception of soft-dollar arrangements. They believe that buy-side firms should pay expenses out of their profits. As such, the use of hard-dollar compensation is becoming more common.
Affiliate marketing also is a very broad term; under this umbrella there are several different strategies that can be employed to generate affiliate revenue. The most appropriate and lucrative method (or methods) can depend on a number of factors, including your site’s niche and characteristics of your audience. Below is an overview of some of the most popular affiliate marketing implementations, along with examples of each. Click here to read more about the proven affiliate marketing strategies.
Many laws specifically regulate the ways online ads are delivered. For example, online advertising delivered via email is more regulated than the same ad content delivered via banner ads. Among other restrictions, the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires that any commercial email provide an opt-out mechanism. Similarly, mobile advertising is governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), which (among other restrictions) requires user opt-in before sending advertising via text messaging.
At the other end of the spectrum is the small merchant who is only willing or able to work with a handful of affiliates. In this case, the merchant and affiliate may come to an agreement and utilize a “low tech” solution to determine commissions earned (e.g., a custom referral path and an earnings statement powered by Google Analytics). This type of affiliate relationship will typically develop when there is a logical affiliate relationship between two parties, but the merchant isn’t interested in opening up the affiliate program to a wide range of partners via an affiliate network.
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.