Affiliate marketing is an advanced form of advertising. A website publisher (the 'affiliate') promotes the products or services from another website (the 'merchant' site). If the affiliate website's promotion leads to a sale on the merchant site, the affiliate gets paid a commission.
Affiliate marketing has contributed to the rise of many leading online companies. Amazon.com, one of the first significant adopters, now has hundreds of thousands of affiliate relationships. It is not uncommon to see industries where the major players have affiliate programs - often structured in a similar manner and making similar competitive changes over time.
Consumer-electronics companies tend to pay closer to 5 percent of transactions. IBM and Dell pay a percentage of the revenue they make on hardware purchases. Generally, the higher the ticket price, and the lower the manufacturer's profit margin, the lower the affiliate offer.
Credit card companies offer bounties of more than $20 for honest-to-goodness customers, whereas other financial companies pay much lower sums - maybe a nickel - for clicks over to their site.