In the broadcasting industry (particularly in North America), a network affiliate or affiliated station is a local broadcaster, owned by a company other than the owner of the network, which carries some or all of the lineup of television programs or radio programs of a television or radio network. This distinguishes such a television or radio station from an owned-and-operated station (O&O), which is owned by the parent network.
While these models have diminished in mature e-commerce and online advertising markets they are still prevalent in some more nascent industries. China is one example where Affiliate Marketing does not overtly resemble the same model in the West. With many affiliates being paid a flat "Cost Per Day" with some networks offering Cost Per Click or CPM.
Affiliates can be found all around the business world. In the corporate securities and capital markets, executive officers, directors, large stockholders, subsidiaries, parent entities, and sister companies are affiliates of other companies. Two entities may be affiliates if one owns less than a majority of voting stock in the other. For instance, Bank of America has a number of different affiliates around the world including US Trust and Merrill Lynch.
The concept of affiliate marketing on the Internet was conceived of, put into practice and patented by William J. Tobin, the founder of PC Flowers & Gifts. Launched on the Prodigy Network in 1989, PC Flowers & Gifts remained on the service until 1996. By 1993, PC Flowers & Gifts generated sales in excess of $6 million per year on the Prodigy service. In 1998, PC Flowers and Gifts developed the business model of paying a commission on sales to the Prodigy Network.