Here is why this might seem scary to us marketers: I can agree to have generic goals like “supporting the sales team” and “driving brand awareness.” And in general, meeting these goals is a fairly straightforward process. If I convince the stakeholders I did a good job and I’m marginally better at driving volume of registrations/clicks/whatever, then I’m in good shape.
Tradedoubler — Tradedoubler markets a number of solutions for both advertisers and publishers. For advertisers, it has TD Convert, TD Connect, and TD Engage. TD Convert is its platform for affiliate marketing. It says advertisers only pay when they see results, which are typically measured as sales or leads. It also claims to have 2,000 advertisers on-site waiting to partner with eager affiliates.

Bounty Events are available in select countries as referenced in the Appendix (“Special Program Fees”). You will earn Special Program Fees described in this Section 4(a) in connection with “Bounty Events” which occur when (1) a customer, who must be eligible for the Bounty Event as described in the Appendix, clicks through a Special Link on your Site to a bounty-specific homepage on an Amazon Site, and (2) during the resulting Session the customer completes the bounty action described in the Appendix.
So far we’ve been good at measuring volume: clicks, visits, impressions, registrations, etc. We have also been really good at measuring velocity: time on page, click-through rate and so on. What Big Data can add to the picture is really very simple -- it adds a measure of value. So that next time a goal for a webinar would be not to get 1,000 registrations, but to attribute to say $1 million in revenue.
If you want to uncover more merchants who partner directly with affiliates, just keep your eyes open. When you see affiliate links, do a quick search to see if the related merchant runs their own program. (We came up with the list above by reviewing a few of the bigger affiliate marketing blogs and investigating the most prominent affiliate links on those sites.)
According to HowStuffWorks, “Affiliate programs, also called associate programs, are arrangements in which an online merchant website pays affiliate websites a commission to send it traffic. These affiliate websites post links to the merchant site and are paid according to a particular agreement. This agreement is usually based on the number of people the affiliate sends to the merchant's site or the number of people they send who buy something or perform some other action.
Excellent post David. The key phrase you mentioned in my opinion is “cost neutral”. Many times marketing is performed in organizations without discernible or measurable metrics in the name of ‘creating or influencing brand awareness’. So to your points I believe that marketing (and any other position in the organization) can be held accountable to outcomes if a discipline is applied to how what they do influences what is produced in profitability. If you can’t measure what you are managing, and how that contributes to the bottom line, whether it be marketing or anything else you’ve got a cost – pure and simple.
Every team has a number to chase, every rep has a number to chase and every rep has predictability in forecasting and influencing this number. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they talk to 30 clients or 300, or if they sell just one big deal or 20 small deals. These are all part of a master equation that drives careers and ultimately adds up to the revenue number.
Determine the structure of your plan. There are two main types of commission structures for sales and marketing professionals. The first is a "straight" commission plan. In these plans, the professional does not receive a salary and is compensated solely based upon the number of sales. The other structure is salary plus commissions. This structure provides the professional with a base salary and commissions based upon the amount of sales generated.

To summarise, flexibility and an understanding of the motivations for different affiliate types is the key factor in setting an intelligent commission structure for any affiliate programme. A full appreciation of the finer details should ultimately result in greater engagement with affiliates and crucially an increase in branding, sales and revenue.
My immediate reaction was, “Isn’t marketing’s job to be supporting sales?  Why do we need to pay them some of sales’ commissions if they do their job well?”  I still maintain that position, but Dan’s question started me thinking.  What would happen if we put marketing on a commission plan, what if we made them more accountable for the results they produced?
Websites and services based on Web 2.0 concepts—blogging and interactive online communities, for example—have impacted the affiliate marketing world as well. These platforms allow improved communication between merchants and affiliates. Web 2.0 platforms have also opened affiliate marketing channels to personal bloggers, writers, and independent website owners. Contextual ads allow publishers with lower levels of web traffic to place affiliate ads on websites.[citation needed]
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