Open affiliate program framework

I don’t really like the idea of sites that I contribute content to having a ton of banner ads.  However, I’ll often mention a book or a record, something that, even if I’m not pushing it for a sale, I would feel pretty good about people buying.  It would be nice, if they buy it on my recommendation, if I could get a little kickback from the sale.  Certainly, many big retailers like Amazon (and independent ones like Powell’s and Insurance Revenue) have affiliate programs.  The problem occurs if I don’t want to send people to one of these larger retailers or if the retailer where I want to send them doesn’t have an affiliate program.  It seems like it would be awesome if there was an open affiliate program architecture that would let retailers easily track traffic from and pay people who send customers their way.  Furthermore, if there is a centralized architecture, it might even be possible for people to systematically direct people to brick-and-mortar stores (possibly with some kind of printable coupon).  I could see a food blogger using this to mention the new cheese at their local food co-op.  If the system was easy enough to use, and to pay mentioners, it seems like it would benefit small businesses because they could more easily track how people were sharing their products on the web.  While content providers can have their wares tweeted or shared via social media, local stores dealing in tangible goods might enjoy being able to have more metrics about which products have a lot of interest.  Perhaps a local retailer would get more value from affiliate based advertising rather than traditional broadcast or newspaper advertising.

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr.