The concept of a company sharing revenue with people who drive customers to that business is certainly not a new idea. Paying commissions has a long history.
An online version of this concept, dubbed affiliate marketing, began two decades ago. The term typically refers to a relationship in which an affiliate—usually a website publisher—advertises a merchant’s products or services and is paid for results: sales.
Businesses customarily use promotions, such as discounts or freebies, as part of these affiliate-marketing deals to entice consumers to make a purchase. Since the transactions are electronic, the purchases, deals, and affiliate involvement are recorded immediately.
Online marketers have looked at various ways to expand to offline sales, such as paper or electronic coupons and loyalty cards to draw customers to stores. One of the latest companies to link online with offline is Yub, a spinoff from TrialPay, which is an online payment and promotions platform. Yub allows brick-and-mortar restaurants and retailers to link with consumers and track buyers from their online clicks at affiliate marketers’ websites to actual purchases.
Alex Rampell, a founder and chief executive of TrialPay and Yub, explains the company is bridging the gap between affiliate marketing and offline businesses.
“I buy coffee, go bowling, eat out,” he says. “I wondered how TrialPay could work with physical restaurants or stores. Could we build offline what we have online?”
Yub—that’s “buy” backwards, a sly nod to its offline efforts in an online universe—is one of several companies that hope to entice Web-using consumers to conventional stores. Both Foursquare and Shopkick use mobile technology to connect millions of users with physical restaurants and retailers, and provide rewards for purchases made. But Yub works completely within the affiliate marketing space, taking advantage of an industry that is expected to generate more than $4 billion in online sales this year, according to a Forrester Research report.
“It’s definitely still a growing industry,” says Murray Newlands, a consultant who formerly ran affiliate networks and advises American and British companies on social media. “The size and scope continue to increase.”