Affiliates are commercial entities with peer relationships. They are business concerns, organizations, or individuals that control each other or that are controlled by a third party. Control may include shared management or ownership; common use of facilities, equipment, and employees; or family interest.
Affiliates's marketing typically refers to an electronic commerce version of the traditional agent/referral fee sales channel concept. An e-commerce affiliate is a website which links back to an e-commerce site. When the readers of the website click on the link, they are connected to the e-tailer and if they purchase a product or service from the said site the affiliate receives a small payment (depending upon the e-commerce site policies), usually a percentage of the money the customer spends. As the e-commerce continues to evolve, e-commerce affiliates are no longer restricted to website owners. Bloggers and members of different online community forums can be affiliates as well. Many emerging affiliate programs are now accepting bloggers and individuals, not necessarily webmasters, to be affiliates.
Affiliates can also be referred as publishers. The Hotel and Travel Industry uses affiliate marketing to a large extent. Affiliate Marketers don't necessarily have to be Affiliate Marketers specifically. Sometimes such marketers can actually be the e-commerce web site that actually sells the products and services. The advantage of this method of marketing is that it cuts out the middleman but it does require the affiliates to have a high degree of trust in the software and people behind the e-commerce web site in question.