Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.
In corporate law and taxes, an affiliate is a company that is related to another company, usually by being in the position of a member or a subordinate role, a subsidiary. According to Investopedia, a subsidiary is a company "whose parent is a majority shareholder." (That means the parent owns 51 percent or more of the other company's shares of stock.