Friday Factday: Affiliate Marketing
Friday Factday

Friday Factday: Affiliate Marketing

Ben Thornton
Ben Thornton

It's that time of week, folks; we've almost made it through another week, the weekend is in sight, and many of us are looking forward to a couple of days off. It's also where I bring you another episode of Friday Factday, your favorite bite-size info piece to fill a 5-minute break and bring that weekend inching closer.

This week, I thought I'd touch on a subject that is wide-ranging and pervasive in today's digital-focused economy, and something rife in the VPN industry itself: Affiliate Marketing.

Let's begin!

It Started With Flowers

The “invention” of affiliate marketing occurred in 1994, the first patent was filed for it in 1996, and the patent was granted in 2000. William J. Tobin, an army veteran and entrepreneur, set up the first affiliate marketing program for his flower business, PC Flowers & Gifts. Originally selling on Prodigy Network where the strategy was developed, Tobin later worked with IBM to launch the program on the Internet.

A flower shop perhaps doesn't fit the stereotype of either an ex-army business, or the founder of a modern capitalist staple, but, as they say, life is often stranger than fiction.

Amazon Adopts an Associates Program

Amazon is easily the most well-known example of a business that uses affiliate marketing. In 1996, they created their Associates Program, which was the first instance of a company making affiliate programs available to the general public.

Nowadays, Amazon affiliate links can be found on a myriad of websites across the internet, to the point it's an everyday encounter. It's one of the big contributors to Amazon's absolute domination.

It Loooves Cookies

The infamous cookie was invented in 1994 by a 24-year-old programmer named Lou Montulli – this revolutionized digital marketing and was especially impactful for affiliate marketing, allowing companies to target users more effectively.

Whether Mr. Montulli will be remembered fondly is currently up for debate, but he's certainly left his mark.

Money Talks

Affiliate Marketing presents itself as people/corporations recommending products they approve of, but it's fairly well-known that that's disingenuous; the promotion of these products is driven by money, and how much of it they can earn by singing its praises. It's a 17-billion-dollar industry, after all.

Now, independent reviewers and such earning some money from recommending products isn't a bad thing and power to them! Some even make a point of being selective and only recommending things they genuinely think are good. Unfortunately, many just play the hype game, regardless of the quality of the product or service they are touting.

We Don't Do Paid Affiliate Marketing

Here, at Windscribe, we take an ethical stance against the use of paid-for promotions. You will never find a review of our product that we have paid for someone to write. We believe this is an important stance to take, particularly in an industry that is dominated by corporations that have absolutely no qualms about dropping big money on affiliate marketing and paid-for promotions (cough Nord and Express cough) that, frankly, lie about what the product can do.

What we prefer to do is to reach out to other organizations and people we like and do mutual resource swaps – we give each other reviews, and links to each other's blogs/websites, and sometimes even collaborate on content. We find that this makes both content and the relationships between us and our friends more genuine.

Ben Thornton
Ben Thornton