The convenience and easy accessibility of the Internet has created a global B2C e-commerce research facility, for a vast online shopping network that has motivated retail markets in developed countries. In 2010 between US$400 billion and $600 billion in revenue was generated by this medium. It was anticipated that in 2015 this online market will generate between $700 billion and $950 billion.
In 2006, the most active sectors for affiliate marketing were the adult gambling, retail industries and file-sharing services.:149–150 The three sectors expected to experience the greatest growth are the mobile phone, finance, and travel sectors. Soon after these sectors came the entertainment (particularly gaming) and Internet-related services (particularly broadband) sectors. Also several of the affiliate solution providers expect to see increased interest from business-to-business marketers and advertisers in using affiliate marketing as part of their mix.:149–150
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.