What is an Affiliate Company and How It Works
January 3, 2024

What is an Affiliate Company and How It Works

Are you curious about the world of affiliate companies and wondering, “what is an affiliate company?” Understanding the concept, benefits, and differences between affiliates and subsidiaries can open up new avenues for growth and collaboration. In this blog post, you’ll learn about the characteristics, types, advantages, and real-world examples of affiliated companies, as well as how to establish successful affiliate relationships by answering the question, “what is an affiliate company?”

Key Takeaways

  • Affiliate companies are businesses with minority ownership stakes that provide increased efficiency and access to international resources.
  • Common scenarios include corporate affiliations, joint ventures, and affiliate marketing relationships.
  • Establishing an affiliate relationship involves choosing the right partner & creating an agreement that works for both parties.

Defining Affiliate Companies

Defining Affiliate Companies

An affiliate company is a business with a minority ownership stake held by a parent company, which allows for separate operations and limited control by the parent company. Companies often choose this affiliate company structure for the increased efficiency, access to international resources, and financial feasibility that it provides, making the affiliate company an attractive option.

For instance, let’s say that GaloreCars, a car manufacturer, acquires a 24% ownership of The New Tire Hut, a tire manufacturer. This makes the two companies affiliates of one another, with GaloreCars benefiting from the operations of The New Tire Hut without having direct control over its day-to-day activities.

Key Characteristics

Affiliate companies typically have minority ownership, operate independently, and have limited control from the parent company. A minority stake indicates that ownership or interest in a company is held by one or more individuals who own less than 50% of it. This is another way of saying that the majority ownership of a company lies elsewhere. The major distinction between affiliate companies and parent companies lies in the amount of control and ownership.

While parent companies have the majority of control over the operations of their subsidiaries, affiliate companies don’t have much oversight from the parent company.

Common Scenarios

Common Scenarios

Affiliate companies often find themselves in the following types of relationships:

  1. Corporate affiliations: a relationship between two companies that share the same parent company.
  2. Joint ventures: when two or more companies come together to share resources and profits.
  3. Affiliate marketing: when one company helps generate sales for another company and they get paid a commission for it.

A prime example of affiliate marketing is when a website owner promotes another company’s products or services and earns a commission for each sale made through their unique link.

Types of Affiliates

Types of Affiliates

There are various types of affiliates, including:

  • Corporate affiliates with minority ownership stakes
  • Joint ventures with shared ownership
  • Affiliate marketing relationships where commissions are earned for promoting products or services.

We will examine these types further.

Corporate Affiliates

Corporate affiliates are companies that are related through ownership or control, such as when one company owns a minority stake in another company, typically between 20% and 50%, or when companies are under common control or have a parent company in common. The role of a parent company in a corporate affiliate relationship can vary depending on the level of ownership and involvement, ranging from providing guidance and making key decisions as the major shareholder to taking a hands-off approach.

Minority ownership, often referred to as a minority shareholder, means that the parent company holds less than 50% ownership stake in the affiliated company, with the rights and responsibilities of minority owners differing depending on the agreements between the parent company and the affiliate.

Joint Ventures

A joint venture is a type of partnership between two or more companies that join forces to achieve a common goal. In the context of affiliates, it’s a way for companies to collaborate and benefit from each other’s resources, expertise, and efforts, usually involving sharing workloads, roles, responsibilities, and costs.

A joint venture can have different structures depending on the arrangement, such as Equity Joint Ventures, Contractual Joint Ventures, and Consortium Joint Ventures. It’s important to note that the structure can vary based on the goals, resources, and legal requirements of the parties involved.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where a business rewards affiliates for each visitor or customer they bring in. Affiliates get commissions for promoting products or services, usually through a referral link or code.

In ecommerce, businesses partner with affiliates who promote their products or services, with the affiliates getting a commission for each sale or referral they make. Some popular strategies for successful affiliate marketing include:

  • Choosing the right affiliates
  • Optimizing your platforms
  • Diversifying your affiliate program
  • Partnering with your audience
  • Strategically promoting products
  • Staying up-to-date with trends
  • Using advanced techniques

Advantages of Affiliation

Advantages of Affiliation

Affiliating offers numerous advantages, such as market growth, investment possibilities, and control over the supply chain.

Let’s examine in-depth each of these tax benefits and their potential positive effects on your business operations.

Market Expansion

Market expansion through affiliations is when a company teams up with domestic partners to tap into a new market and gain access to new customers without having to invest in the infrastructure and resources needed to enter the market on their own. Building bridges across cultures, researching the other party’s culture, embracing cultural differences, enhancing cross-cultural communication, and increasing cultural sensitivity are all ways that affiliate relationships can help address cultural barriers when expanding into a new market.

Investment Opportunities

Affiliations can present attractive investment opportunities for the parent company, providing them with the opportunity to grow their assets and explore new markets. There are quite a few investment opportunities in affiliate companies, like investing in affiliate programs, alternative investments, and affiliate marketing programs in various niches like money and investing.

A financially sound partner is more likely to have the resources to invest in marketing, tech, and other tools that can help your affiliate program succeed, and financial stability shows that your partner can handle economic downturns and face challenges, which is key for the long-term success of the partnership.

Supply Chain Control

Having control over the supply chain enables companies to effectively manage their resources and make sure they’re getting the most bang for their buck. Forming affiliations can lead to greater control over the supply chain by fostering close connections and relationships with other parties, which facilitates better coordination, information sharing, and collaboration. This helps streamline the supply chain, reduce costs, and ensure a reliable supply of goods or services.

Comparing Affiliates and Subsidiaries

Comparing Affiliates and Subsidiaries

Comparing affiliates and subsidiaries involves examining ownership structure, control and management, and financial reporting. We will examine each of these factors in-depth to gain a better understanding of the key differences between these two business structures.

Ownership Structure

Ownership structure differs between affiliates and subsidiaries, with affiliates having minority ownership and subsidiaries having majority ownership by a parent company. Affiliates have less than 50% ownership from the parent company. Whereas, the parent company is a majority-owner in a subsidiary..

The holding company can only own a small share of an affiliate company, while it needs to have a majority stake in the subsidiary company, essentially becoming the majority shareholder.

Control and Management

Control and management vary between affiliates and subsidiaries, with affiliates maintaining more independence and subsidiaries being more controlled by the parent company. The parent company usually has more control and influence over a subsidiary’s operations because they own at least 50% of it, while the holding company doesn’t have much say in the day-to-day operations of an affiliate company.

The larger parent company has a big say in the day-to-day operations of a subsidiary, as the parent company owns it, while the parent and affiliate’s management teams are independent.

Financial Reporting

Financial reporting for affiliates is separate from the parent company, while subsidiaries’ financials are often included in the parent company’s statements. When it comes to subsidiaries, their financials show up on the parent company’s balance sheet, meaning the parent company takes more responsibility for how the subsidiary does.

On the other hand, an affiliate company’s financials stay separate from the parent company.

Establishing an Affiliate Relationship

Establishing an Affiliate Relationship

Establishing an affiliate relationship involves choosing a partner and drawing up an affiliate agreement. We will examine the process of choosing the right partner and creating a solid agreement to guarantee a successful affiliation.

Partner Selection

Choosing the right partner is a key step in establishing a successful affiliate relationship, which ensures alignment in goals and values between both companies. When choosing a partner for an affiliate relationship, it’s important to take into account:

  • Relevance
  • Reputation
  • Commission structure
  • Support and resources
  • Compatibility
  • Tracking and reporting
  • Long-term potential

Having aligned business goals when selecting partners in affiliate relationships is essential for creating a shared vision, encouraging collaboration, and maximizing the value created through the partnership.

Drafting an Affiliate Agreement

Drafting an affiliate agreement involves the following steps:

  1. Outline the terms, roles, responsibilities, promotional materials, restrictions, intellectual property, and payment methods for the affiliate relationship.
  2. Be clear about all the terms and conditions.
  3. Outline the rights and duties of both parties.
  4. Specify the commission structure and payment terms.
  5. Add a confidentiality clause.
  6. Set up a tracking process to monitor affiliate activity and performance.

By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive and effective affiliate agreement.

Real-World Examples of Affiliate Companies

Real-World Examples of Affiliate Companies

Real-world examples of affiliate companies include:

  • Kia Motors and Hyundai Motors, which have an affiliate relationship and share technology and platforms
  • Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, which work together with Merrill Lynch as the wealth management division of Bank of America
  • Amazon’s affiliate marketing program

Amazon’s affiliate marketing program, known as the Amazon Associates Program, allows website owners and bloggers to make money by promoting products from Amazon.com, earning a commission for each sale made through their unique link.


In summary, affiliate companies present unique opportunities for businesses to collaborate, expand, and thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. Understanding the differences between affiliates and subsidiaries, as well as the benefits of affiliations, can help businesses make informed decisions about their growth strategies. By carefully selecting partners and crafting solid affiliate agreements, companies can leverage the power of affiliate relationships to achieve greater success in their respective industries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be an affiliate of a company?

Being an affiliate of a company means to be related in some way, such as being a minority shareholder, subsidiary, partner or even controlled by a third party. The affiliation can involve shared data and services between the two companies.

What is the difference between subsidiaries and affiliates?

A subsidiary is a company whose parent owns more than 50% of its shares, while an affiliate is a company with a parent owning less than 50%. The level of ownership determines whether a company is a subsidiary or an affiliate.

What is the difference between an affiliate company and an associate company?

Affiliate and associate companies are often used interchangeably, but an affiliate company indicates a stricter contractual relationship while an associate company indicates a more casual partnership.

What types of affiliates exist?

Affiliates come in many forms, such as corporate partners with minority ownership, joint ventures with shared ownership, and affiliate marketers who earn commission from promoting products or services.

What are the advantages of affiliation?

Affiliation offers a range of benefits, from market expansion and increased investment opportunities to supply chain control. It’s an attractive option for businesses looking to grow and maximize profits.

About Advertise Purple

Advertise Purple is the #1 affiliate management agency in the USA. We help clients across the country to super-charge their affiliate revenue and get the most out of the channel. In fact, our clients see an average of 131% growth in affiliate sales within our first six months of campaign management. This is done for any niche, whether you are in it for direct e-commerce sales or lead generation.

Through our extensive network of high-quality affiliates, we’ve driven over $22 million in revenue for clients. With over nine years of successful affiliate management experience and a team of dedicated experts, we’re revered by networks and publishers as the leading affiliate management company.

If you want to step up your performance marketing or need help developing your affiliate network, our team can help. Simply send us a message using the form below, call us on 866.833.0574 or email [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

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