Attention Amazon Associates – No More Direct Linking Via Paid Search

I just got an email at 5:01 this morning from the powers that be at Amazon.com letting their associates know that as of May 1, 2009 they will no longer allow direct linking from paid search ads. If you are an Amazon affiliate and have been making a bit of cash this way, as I have, you’ll have to wrap everything up by the end of this month.

Ever since eBay made a similar change, I guess it was about a year and a half ago, Amazon became one of the only all inclusive affiliate programs that still allowed direct linking. By all inclusive, I mean that with Amazon there is hardly a product in the world you can’t get through them, thus giving affiliates in almost any niche the ability to direct link. Being able to direct link to Amazon via paid search left the possibilities wide open for anyone that knew ppc fairly well and wanted to make some easy money. No matter the product, model number, color, size, shape or whatever, you can get it at Amazon and affiliates could send customers directly to any page right from Google, Yahoo, MSN and other paid search platform. Unfortunately, that will no longer be allowed.

This is a serious bummer since I’d been doing this exact thing for the last several months earning a few hundred dollars in commissions on a monthly basis and had been planning to scale this up quite a bit. It’s not the end of the world since I’m learning to take everything in stride, it just seems to be the nature of the affiliate game. You have to learn how to constantly adapt in this business or you’ll find yourself out of work.

Update: I thought I’d add the content of the email below:

Dear Amazon Associate:

We’re writing to let you know about a change to the Amazon Associates Program. After careful review of how we are investing our advertising resources, we have made the decision to no longer pay referral fees to Associates who send users to www.amazon.com, www.amazon.ca, or www.endless.com through keyword bidding and other paid search on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines, and their extended search networks. If you’re not sure if this change affects you, please visit this page for FAQs.

As of May 1, 2009, Associates will not be paid referral fees for paid search traffic. Also, in connection with this change, as of May 1, 2009, Amazon will no longer make data feeds available to Associates for the purpose of sending users to the Amazon websites in the US or Canada via paid search.

This change applies only to the Associates programs in North America. If you are conducting paid search activities in connection with one of Amazon’s Associates Programs outside of the US and Canada, please refer to the applicable country’s Associates Program Operating Agreement for relevant terms and conditions.

We appreciate your continued support and participation in this advertising Program. If you have questions or concerns, please write to us by using the Contact Us form available on Associates Central.


The Amazon Associates Program

Now that direct linking to Amazon from paid search is gone at the end of the month, it just makes being an affiliate all the more interesting. Share your thoughts, especially if you are direct linking to Amazon.

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34 Responses to “Attention Amazon Associates – No More Direct Linking Via Paid Search”

  1. For myself, this is good news. I’ve tried direct linking with Amazon on numerous occasions, failing each time. 4% commissions on a session-only cookie never worked for me.

    Now I’m no longer tempted :)

  2. Yeah, I got this email too. I was wondering if anyone has a list of keywords that they are restricting from all PPC campaigns for affiliates even if it directs to a personal website.

  3. Why are sites like Amazon and Ebay canceling referral fees from paid search sites? Is it because they have a better profit margin if they buy the search adds themselves?

  4. Eric,

    I’ve found that if you bid on product model numbers you can get some sales. When someone searches for a specific model number of a product, they are ready to buy.


    It’s hard to tell why companies do this. I guess they don’t want any competition in search. It’s just lame for Amazon and eBay to do this though because I’d be willing to bet that their paid search has to lose money. They bid on the most ridiculous keywords that can’t possibly generate a sale.

    It would be better if they let affiliates do it instead of the company itself wasting money. The affiliates that know search will earn money and the company gets a sale, what could be better than that?

  5. That’s a bummer since amazon is the biggest affiliate network available, I wonder why they made those changes since they are making money that way. It’s simply not smart by them as they drive away customers that would be there anyways and will now be fighting on “equal” ground vs. other companies.

  6. I have an amazon account and glad to have seen this before I started building my stores.

  7. They’ve also stopped providing their data feed (for PPC). Can anyone verify that this affects only direct ppc links to Amazon, and not ppc to websites with amazon links?

  8. Bummer. I agree that it’s probably due to not wanting competition for keywords…….even if they’re not particularly efficient at this right now.

  9. I got the same email from them.

  10. Peter, there is a new FAQ regarding this new PPC policy clearly stating that linking to a landing pagees are fine. So yes, it only affects direct links.

  11. I’m sure the changes that Amazon is making is only serving to protect itself from competing with it’s own affiliate program, plus it’s going to clean out tons of duplicate search results that are not adding additional value.

  12. Wow…That really stinks. This is something that I have been planning to start working on. Oh well…I will have to try something else now.

  13. This is a big kick in the guts for anyone who is making their living this way.

    I just don’t get how these networks get to arbitrarily change the rules like this, without considering the impact on some of their affiliates.

  14. At first I was disappointed but after reading the whole email, I found out the I could still link to there product on my site.

  15. This is exactly what I was plan to write about on my blog.

    Just you did it so quick :) I think it’s the end of quick money from PPC.

    Now it’s time for serious writing skills.

  16. You can send paid traffic to amazon.co.uk still.

  17. Affiliates get slapped by yet another company.

  18. I’m kinda surprised you were able to this long. I wonder if it will bite them, you have to figure there are a lot of sales generated that way.

  19. I’m actually quite surprised that they hadn’t implemented this move earlier 0 i guess they just don’t want the competition

  20. I wonder what the rationale is for companies prohibiting direct linking.

  21. Actually this might be due to google or not? With the possiblity to make money with nothing and not offering any value yourself, google might dislike this practise.

  22. I got that email, I really do not send anyone directly to amazon, I got them first in my site and then to amazon, it actually does not affect me.


  23. It actually doesn’t even make sense from a business standpoint for Amazon.

    They’d be paying most of their affiliates between 4 and 6 percent. If they want all that PPC goodness to themselves, you can bet they’d be paying a higher percentage than that in clicks.

    Am I missing something here?

  24. If I do PPC, “IF”, I will also direct them to my site first anyway. So it’s also not my case. but I know now people will start to get to real writing skills otherwise they can’t get any commission.

    I bet Amazon is doing PR and the backlinks campaign. Because people not advertising on Google Adwords, they will have to link from their site to Amazon. So the big guy is going to get more popular.

  25. I know i have also heard about it and i think we are banned from all PPC campaigns for affiliates even for our personal site

  26. Paul U, it looks like they are sending the message to everyone.

  27. Hair Loss Toronto, I completely agree. This move by Amazon doesn’t seem to make sense from a business perspective.

  28. It’s no big loss. It’s hard to make money anyway with Amazon Associates because they use a 24 hour cookie. You are better off with an affiliate that uses a longer cookie.

  29. Wow only 24 hours for an affiliate cookie! They should be ashamed of being so underhanded. I definitely won’t ever promote the amazon affiliate program with terms like that.

    I don’t really get why so many companies insist on restricting the ppc activities of their affiliates. It seems quite counter productive. They are trying to make their own ppc department happy at the expense of their affiliates.

  30. It’s amazing how these big players (Amazon, Google, etc.) can change the industry in one single swoop.

  31. Minnesota Attorney,

    Yep, and they can take your $200 or so per month you’ve been earning (with Amazon) right with it.

  32. I can also believe that with these large companies there is the hand of google, maybe they can make our lives difficult, but they can not eliminate us, we are too many people hungry for commissions and willing to do the impossible to earn money.

  33. I can’t believe nobody “gets” this. The reason is a merchant spends a lot of time optimizing for organic search results. Why would they want a paid-link from an affiliate and pay commission, when they are going to get the sale naturally?

  34. I can also believe that with these large companies there is the hand of google, perhaps they can make our lives difficult, but they can not eliminate us, we are too probably the vast majority of people hungry for commissions and open to the idea of do the impossible to earn money.

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