The web became a place where people could find information, news, products, opinions, inspiration, data. Terms like e-commerce, website traffic and banner ads emerged. As the world increasingly decided to spend their time and money online, marketers began inventing ways to leverage this communication channel, and opportunities for website owners to partner began. Content creators conceptualized ways to monetize their sites – ways to get paid for the exposure they could give merchants to their site visitors. Merchants found ways to reach new audiences and pay only when they converted.
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The internet is full of business potential, but it is also rife with competition. In this situation, it becomes really tough to sell your products or services. Affiliate marketing can help you effectively promote your product on the web. By helping you reach out to a large potential customer base, affiliate programs help you to connect with millions of customers across the globe.
In 1994, Tobin launched a beta version of PC Flowers & Gifts on the Internet in cooperation with IBM, who owned half of Prodigy. By 1995 PC Flowers & Gifts had launched a commercial version of the website and had 2,600 affiliate marketing partners on the World Wide Web. Tobin applied for a patent on tracking and affiliate marketing on January 22, 1996, and was issued U.S. Patent number 6,141,666 on Oct 31, 2000. Tobin also received Japanese Patent number 4021941 on Oct 5, 2007, and U.S. Patent number 7,505,913 on Mar 17, 2009, for affiliate marketing and tracking. In July 1998 PC Flowers and Gifts merged with Fingerhut and Federated Department Stores.