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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PPC Marketing Doesn’t Work…Most Of The Time

Short post today, but one of the biggest things that I’ve learned by joining PPC Coach is that pay-per-click marketing doesn’t work…most of the time. Over the last few years I’ve spent a considerable amount of money and time trying to figure out the PPC game and even with being a part of the PPC Coach program, I can still say that most of my pay per click marketing campaigns don’t work.

Let me explain: Like anything you will do in the world of affiliate marketing, paid search is a lot of work. It’s a lot of work identifying possible niches, making lists of keywords, setting up ads, creating landing pages, building sites, tweaking campaigns and finally finding something that’s going to be profitable. There isn’t any magic potion except for the hard work.

While I was immediately successful with 2 campaigns out of 7 (normal is 1 out of 10) in the month 1 portion of PPC Coach training, the rest of my Google Adwords campaigns haven’t seen that kind of success. I’m taking what I’ve learned through PPC Coach and trying the techniques on various kinds of campaigns and the success rate is about the normal 1 in 10 or maybe a little less. But the difference is that 1 in 10 are successful instead of my old record of probably 1 in 50. The lessons have taught me how to better identify possible profit areas, how to structure campaigns and adgroups to be more focused, when to keep a campaign going and when to drop one, how to tweak a successful campaign for maximum profitability and a lot more.

One of the more important things I’ve learned is to keep working until you find success, keep building campaigns until the profitable ones are identified. While there are some great tools in PPC Coach that help you work smarter and quicker, there is never a substitute for putting your nose to the grindstone and hammering out your next campaign or building your next landing page.

Really, it’s no secret, ppc doesn’t work most of the time, the trick is to keep working at it until you find the gems that do work.

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$200 Profit From PPC Yesterday

Finally, I get to say I’m making a decent profit from pay per click advertising. It’s been a long journey from the post I wrote last November declaring that PPC was a scam as Google and Yahoo run it. Even before that post I had been dabbling in PPC for 3 years with not much to show for it.

Yesterday however, was different. I’ve had several days this month over $100 in profit, but yesterday’s profit was over $200 from PPC alone. There are some great blogs around the net that teach techniques about PPC, but nothing has helped me get into serious profitability like PPC Coach has.

Here are some screen shots from yesterday:

Neverblue Earnings 9-29-08

As you can see, revenue at Neverblue was $352.05 and total spend at Google Adwords was $151.21 giving me a profit of $200.84. This comes from being profitable on just 2 offers at Neverblue and running 2 campaigns with 6 adgroups total on Adwords. Oh, one additional bit of info, this is all being done on the content network, not the search network.

It looks like PPC Coach is well worth the $50 per month cost.

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Making Money With $1.25 Leads Using Pay Per Click

If you belong to any of the CPA networks you’ve probably seen the offers where all someone has to do is enter their email address or zip code and you get paid anywhere from $1.10 to $1.75 per lead. These offers always revolve around getting a free Wii game console, getting a free trip to Las Vegas, or getting any number of things for free. Most of these offers are promoted via large email lists, but you may have also noticed that you can promote some of these offers by using pay-per-click search marketing. Fantastic, you’re probably thinking right now, how can you spend 20 or 30 or 40 cents a click and possibly make money with an average lead only earning you in the neighborhood of $1.25?

Believe me, you can do it, because I’ve been doing it for the last 4 days and have earned more than $250 in the process. Only you aren’t paying any more than about 6 or 7 cents a click, but more like 4 or 5 cents. Here’s my stats for the last 4 days below:

Zip Sumit Earnings

There are 2 secrets. The first is using the Google, Yahoo or MSN content network and doing non-traditional targeting. For instance, lets say a CPA network has an offer where a user can get a chance to win a set of Callaway golf clubs just for entering their email address (and with completion of program terms) and you get a $1.25 payout. Most people, including me in the past, would target golf club type keywords and other high profile golf keywords such as manufacturers, golf balls, etc. The only trouble is, these keywords are way too competitive to attempt to make a go here even with the low cost of the content network.

So instead of targeting competitive, high cost keywords, you could maybe target a list the most popular golf courses in the United States, or the names of the top tournaments throughout the US during the year, even better would be to make up a list of the top golfers in history, the more modern the better. Obviously people interested in top golfers, golf courses and tournaments would also be interested in winning a set of Callaway golf clubs.

The second secret is a little more secret in that I can’t really divulge much here because of TOS violations with PPC Coach, but I can at least explain the concept. You have to think out of the box for this one. What you normally do when promoting any offer is pick the one you think will do best and then target it with various keywords to get traffic. Stop right there! Switch your thinking 180 degrees and brainstorm about traffic first. Regardless of what the offer is, how would you get traffic? Think about what the sources and issues surrounding high traffic are. How can you maximize the most traffic using the content network on Google, Yahoo or MSN and pay the least for it?

Once you have that figured out, then you set up an offer to capitalize on the traffic. Also, make sure you read Google’s Contextual Targeting vs Search Targeting guidelines and don’t put more than 50 words in an ad group.

If you want to learn more, you’ll have to join PPC Coach for the details.

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Joined PPC Coach

PPC CoachI’ve confessed in the past my weakness in the area of search marketing. Pay-per-click has consistently been an area that I have not done well in, and I think a lot of affiliate marketers are in the same boat. Here and there I have made some money, but for the 3 years I’ve been an affiliate, I’ve probably been lucky if I’ve broken even in PPC.

There are lots of good blogs throughout the net that do a pretty good job of helping you figure out PPC, but I wanted something that I could study, where I could ask questions, I wanted tools and I wanted to see exactly how people were making money in PPC. That’s why I joined PPC Coach about 5 days ago. PPC Coach isn’t cheap at $50 per month, but if you are tired of spending money with Google Adwords and not seeing results, then you seriously ought to take a look at it. In the 5 days I’ve been a member I’ve already learned enough to run some campaigns and earn my first month’s cost back, so right there I know this stuff works.

For $50 a month PPC Coach gives you a series of videos, tools, a tracking system, an offer database where you can check out and compare the best paying offers between networks and more goodies, but the real power of PPC Coach is the month-by-month suggested campaigns and techniques to utilize, and the forums where people making more than $1,000 a day offer advice and sometimes literally walk you through difficulties you may be having trying to get a campaign profitable.

The thing that excites me the most is the monthly techniques and campaigns to run. And the nice thing about the way PPC Coach works is that you can only see the number of techniques according to the number of months you’ve been a member. “Coach” as we call him, specifically designed the system this way so newbies like myself don’t jump right in and try to start learning and doing everything under the sun. So when you first join PPC Coach, in the Merchants section, you can only see posts related to technique number 1 for the entire month. The philosophy is, “Here, run this, we’ll tell you exactly how to do it, and don’t do anything else.”

I can’t tell you much more than the month one technique involves making money from zip and email submits, because I’d probably get in trouble, but as you can see from the screen shots below, you can. Only a couple of months ago I didn’t think it was possible to make money by producing leads via search that pay just $1 to $1.75, but a friend explained them to me a little better and PPC Coach sort of refined the process. I’ll write a post about it in a few days explaining the concept, but again, I can’t be specific because of TOS violations. 

PPC Coach Earnings

PPC Coach is great if you are frustrated with trying to figure out PPC and want to jump right in, have some money to spend and are ready to get started. If you are hesitant, are short on cash or PPC isn’t the direction you want to go, then do not spend the money on PPC Coach, it isn’t for you. I only decided to join because I spend way more than the $50 membership fee every month on my own pay-per-click marketing and don’t have that much to show for it.

You can check out PPC Coach here only if you are ready to learn the paid search game or are looking to make even more from what you are already doing in paid search.

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