To those on the outside, affiliate marketing can seem like a black box. It’s inner workings are mysterious to most marketers and in many companies it’s not treated with the same seriousness as other channels. Some marketers, only familiar with the bad reputation acquired by some industry players in the 2000s, deride it as a source of spam and little more.
Websites consisting mostly of affiliate links have previously held a negative reputation for underdelivering quality content. In 2005 there were active changes made by Google, where certain websites were labeled as "thin affiliates". Such websites were either removed from Google's index or were relocated within the results page (i.e., moved from the top-most results to a lower position). To avoid this categorization, affiliate marketer webmasters must create quality content on their websites that distinguishes their work from the work of spammers or banner farms, which only contain links leading to merchant sites.