If you’re a person interested in affiliate marketing but are confused about these terms, don’t worry.
The following article will go into detail about the differences between an associate and an affiliate.
Although people use them interchangeably, the terms associate and affiliate are not the same. Let’s look at what they mean and what are the differences between the two.
What is an associate?
An associate is a person or a legal entity that is connected with another person (e.g. a co-worker) or business entity (e.g. an enterprise). The success of both is considered a joint venture. Although it can be considered closer to a partnership, it still comes with a set of rules all parties must follow.
In the context of online marketing, associate marketers are partnered with a business entity to promote their message or a product. Sometimes they can be the “face” of a company and interact with customers and build relationships. An associate is usually a person with respect of their followers who are willing to trust and listen to their advice.
In some cases, associate membership includes rules about having to meet traffic thresholds set by the company.
For example, there are plenty of people who signed up for an Amazon Associate Program. As associates, they promote Amazon’s products to their audience base usually through content marketing.
What is an affiliate?
The definition of the term affiliate is an individual or a business entity that is officially attached to another organization. In the context of affiliate marketing, independent affiliates can be individual marketers or companies that advertise products or services on behalf of another brand. Affiliates have a business relationship with brands through affiliate marketing programs. Affiliate members are paid a commission for products they help sell via affiliate links.
In the online marketing sphere, affiliate marketing has become increasingly popular over the years thanks to its availability, low starting costs, and high ROI.
For an affiliate program to work, three different parties must be involved:
- The product creator – is a company that creates and sells products or services. The product creator doesn’t have to be an active member of the advertising process, as long as they have a person acting as a middleman.
- The affiliate – or a publisher is usually a contractor that markets products or services created by the product creator. Affiliates usually operate within a specific niche where they can influence their audience. Their way of communication depends on the target audience’s preferred communication channel (e.g. Instagram, Youtube, etc.). Affiliates must always disclose their relationship with the vendor they are advertising to their audiences.
- The consumer – is the most relevant person out of the three. It is to this end customer that affiliates market. When a consumer follows an affiliate link to the merchant’s checkout page, an affiliate receives a commission based on the type of commission they have agreed upon.
An example of an independent affiliate is social media influencers. They create content and as a part of a brand’s affiliate network, they advertise products to their audience. When members of the audience complete the desired action, the influencer is paid a portion of the revenue.
What is the difference between an affiliate and an associate?
Differences between the two are often blurred depending on the people you’re talking to. Although they both advertise products to their audiences, associates tend to act as experts in their respective fields while affiliates can be considered a middle person between the business entity and its customers.
Unlike affiliates, customers do not have to buy a particular product associate links to for the associate to receive a commission. They just need to make a purchase using the associate’s link. Affiliates, on the other hand, market a specific product or campaign and receive a percentage of the sale through their affiliate links.
Frequently asked questions
What are the differences between affiliate associates and subsidiary companies?
The main difference between the two is a parent company's level of ownership over stocks. In subsidiary companies, the parent business entity has majority control over the subsidiary's stocks. In some cases, the parent company of a subsidiary company can even have control over all the subsidiary’s stocks. On the other hand, an affiliate company has a minor share of the stocks controlled by a parent company. The affiliate company is still the entity controlling the majority of its stocks.
What is the difference between Amazon Associates vs. Amazon Affiliates?
These two affiliate programs are quite similar in most aspects. However, there are some key differences between the two. Amazon Associates receive a commission even if a visitor doesn’t buy a specific product they are linking to. This can potentially result in higher income for the associates. With the associate program, you can earn anything between 4 to 8.5% per sale. Amazon Affiliates earn money only when a customer uses their affiliate links to purchase a particular product.
What is the difference between association and affiliation?
People sometimes use these terms as synonyms, however, the main difference between the two is in the type of relationship they describe. Association usually indicates more casual business relationships closer to a partnership, whereas affiliation can be understood as a stricter contractual agreement.
Are affiliates considered employees?
Affiliates may be considered employees in the companies they advertise for, but they are usually independent contractors.
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