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e.g. If I am an Amazon affiliate, what is the term for Amazon's relationship to me?

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As an Amazon affiliate, what's exactly your functions/role? – Nora Jul 24 '12 at 16:47
In the title, I think the either the term reciprocal or obverse might be better than inverse – bib Jul 24 '12 at 18:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I'd go with parent company.

A parent company is a company that owns enough voting stock in another firm to control management and operations by influencing or electing its board of directors.

Due to the fact that you're looking for a term that describes an independent affiliate, i.e. someone who is not controlled by the parent company, this wikipedia link suggests appropriate names for the four involved parties. The first one matches your position.

The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as 'retailer' or 'brand'), the network (that contains offers for the affiliate to choose from and also takes care of the payments), the publisher (also known as 'the affiliate'), and the customer.

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Except that I'm not owned, operated, or controlled by Amazon. I'm essentially a reseller more then anything else, so I guess I'm looking for a more appropriate term than, uh, resellee. – Jordan Reiter Jul 24 '12 at 14:44
@JordanReiter Then you're maybe just a customer and not an affiliate. As far as I know affiliate connotes a direct connection, such as being subsidiary company or branch office. If you're independent then you're not an affiliate, are you? – Em1 Jul 24 '12 at 14:45
If so, I'd go with supplier, provider or distributor. I like the latter one. – Em1 Jul 24 '12 at 14:51
It's the term that Amazon and equivalents use and is related directly to affiliate marketing where "affiliates" are rewarded for bringing in customers: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affiliate_marketing Supplier or distributor would suggest that I'm the retailer, when in fact that is still Amazon. – Jordan Reiter Jul 24 '12 at 14:52
@JordanReiter OK, I am stumped. But you should amend your question and include these details since they seem not to be obviously. – Em1 Jul 24 '12 at 14:58

Wikipedia suggests "merchant" for the company with whom the purchaser actually performs the transaction. To my mind, that's a reasonably intuitive term for most purposes.

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"Merchant" is a very general term that can apply to any retailer. Nothing about the word merchant implies that it has affiliates. – Jay Jul 24 '12 at 16:58
@Jay True, but fortunately in my case the context is given, as in "an affiliate and its merchant/retailer". – Jordan Reiter Jul 24 '12 at 18:42
@Jay Context is everything. I agree that absent context it doesn't imply that the merchant has affiliates. In the context of this relationship, though, it denotes the key element, which is that the transaction is actually conducted with the merchant. The affiliate doesn't perform the financial transaction or the fulfillment. – rhuffstedtler Aug 3 '12 at 21:52

Affiliated companies are generally neither parent nor subsidiaries to each other, but share some common linkage, as a common parent upstream (not necessarily at the same level of parentage).

Usually the name given to the related company of an affiliate is affiliate. While there may be a number of possible relationships that describe the activity that Amazon may do to or for you, those probably complement your affiliate relationship.

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"Affiliates" can be peers, but the word is also applied to the subordinate in a superior/subordinate relationship. So I think this answer is correct but incomplete. (If I new what the superior was called in the sup/sub case, I'd post my own answer, but I don't.) – Jay Jul 24 '12 at 17:00
I didn't mean to suggest that affiliates had to be peers. Rather they can have relationships not unlike uncles, cousins, both first and once or more removed, nieces, etc. They generally are not grandparents, children, etc. – bib Jul 24 '12 at 17:10
But I'd think that if they are not peers, you wouldn't also call the superior an "affiliate". Well, maybe you still could. – Jay Jul 25 '12 at 14:30

Affiliation seems like a mutable relationship to me, like brotherhood. If , a male, are my brother, then I am your brother. That means that the business is your affiliate. The problem is that the people in the business world who pick up words like this hardly ever pick up a dictionary.

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