Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. If you click through and purchase an item, I may earn a commission. See my terms of service for details.
Amazon launched in 1994 as an online bookstore, but much has changed since then. Amazon generates billions in sales annually, and it ships millions of different products around the world. It competes in various industries including online and offline retail, consumer electronics, entertainment, gaming, home services, publishing, web services, product fulfillment, and more. Where Amazon doesn’t have a presence, rest assured its developing plans to enter those markets, for example, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
- Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994
- Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, USA
- Amazon employs 200,000+ people in the United States and 575,000+ worldwide
- Its biggest sales events include Prime Day and Cyber Monday
- More than half of the units sold on Amazon worldwide are from third-party sellers
- Prime members exceed 100 million globally
Amazon Affiliate Program
Amazon’s affiliate program, Amazon Associates, is one of the first programs many new bloggers and affiliates join. The program is self-hosted and uses proprietary affiliate tracking software. Let’s review the pros and cons of the program.
Amazon is a well-established online merchant that is trusted by millions of customers globally. That makes promoting and directing traffic to it easy, and shoppers don’t hesitate to purchase items from Amazon.
Amazon has millions of products to promote. It’s an online department store with over 20 product categories including books, computers, luggage, pet supplies, and more. Affiliates in any niche can easily find goods to market.
An Amazon account in good standing is all you need to join Amazon Associates, which makes it easy to get approved. Additionally, the program is available in 13 countries and ten languages.
Affiliates can earn percentage-based and fixed commissions. Publishers can earn up to 10 percent on sales conversions. The Amazon bounty program pays fixed advertising fees (bounties) when visitors try or sign-up for services and programs. For example, you will earn a $5 bonus for every Amazon Fresh trial sign-up and a $3 bonus for every Amazon Music trial sign-up.
Associates can advertise in different ways including:
- Create links for products, pages, and search results. You can also create short links, for example, http://amzn.to/2p0xP91.
- Display banners on your site. Images are available in many shapes and sizes.
- Use native shopping ads to promote relevant and dynamic product recommendations.
- Use mobile popover ads to earn up to 30 percent more.
Associates can promote discounted items. Promo codes enable customers to get discounts on eligible products at checkout. Merchants can create promo codes for publishers to use.
Amazon gives you many monetization tools including:
- SiteStripe allows you to create links directly from Amazon.com without having to visit Amazon Associates.
- Publisher Studio enables you to add links to products on Amazon.com from your site’s content editor.
- The Product Advertising API (PA API) provides programmatic access for advanced users to Amazon’s product selection.
- OneLink creates a seamless redirect for your international visitors by directing them to the most suitable and relevant Amazon store.
- The Amazon Associates Link Builder WordPress plugin makes adding products to your WordPress site more efficient.
- Tracking IDs enable you to monitor traffic and sales attribution.
Reporting and analytics are above average. You can monitor clicks, conversions, and commissions on a user-friendly dashboard. Also, you can select time periods, download reports, and view your payment history.
Amazon’s payout threshold is low. If you elect to receive payments via direct deposit or gift card, the pay threshold is 10 USD. Payments issued by check have a threshold of 100 USD.
Amazon pays a low and appalling commission rate of zero to 10 percent on sales. For all that Amazon is, its program falls short of rewarding affiliates handsomely. Although you might convert a high-ticket item and receive an excellent commission, you’re likely to generate a few dollars to hundreds monthly. Making thousands of dollars each month is highly unlikely.
The cookie length is insufficient. You are credited with purchases that occur within 24 hours–a 24-hour cookie–through standard links. The cookie/referral period extends for a product that is added to a shopping cart and purchased no later than 89 days after the initial click. Regarding qualifying purchases, Amazon states,
(a) a customer clicks through a Special Link on your Site to an Amazon Site; and
(b) during a single session, which is measured as beginning when a customer clicks through that Special Link and ending upon the first to occur of the following: (x) 24 hours elapse from that click, (y) the customer places an order for a Product, other than a digital item sold under the name “Amazon Music,” “Amazon Shorts”, “eDocs”, “Amazon Prime Video”, “Amazon Software Downloads”, “Game Downloads”, “Kindle Books”, “Kindle Newspapers”, “Kindle Blogs”, “Kindle Newsfeeds”, or “Kindle Magazines” (a “Digital Product”), or (z) the customer clicks through a Special Link to an Amazon Site that is not your Special Link (a “Session”), any of the following happens:
- the customer purchases a Product via our 1-Click feature, or
- the customer purchases a Product by adding a Product to his or her shopping cart and completing the order for that Product no later than 89 days after their initial click-through of the Special Link, or
- with respect to Digital Products, the customer purchases such a Product by streaming or downloading it from an Amazon Site; and
(c) the Product is shipped to, streamed or downloaded by, and paid for by the customer.
Affiliates can’t receive commissions via PayPal. PayPal is standard on most affiliate networks and with most affiliate programs, but Amazon doesn’t give you the option.
The affiliate program landing page is incomplete. Amazon does a subpar job of disclosing critical program details such as the cookie length and payout options. Instead, it provides many links to “learn more.” The point of a landing page is to learn more about a program, not to point users in every which way or have them hunt for details. Amazon could simplify and improve the page by adding an FAQ.
There isn’t a dedicated affiliate manager. I like to see that a merchant has assigned someone to support publishers. In some programs I participate in, it’s near impossible to reach the affiliate manager or get a response promptly, which is the case with Amazon. Random customer service representatives are responsible for addressing publisher inquires.
Some affiliates report making six-figures with Amazon Associates, but those claims are either outdated or untrue. You would need to sell $100,000 to $1,000,000 to generate $10,000 in commissions. Selling that much while flirting with 24-hour referral periods leads to the improbable. Also, anyone who could sell that much could make more money selling products through Amazon FBA or using online store software like Shopify. Secondly, generating that much for Amazon only to take home breadcrumbs is a win-lose scenario (you end up the LOSER). On the other hand, you can make money with Amazon Associates, but you must be practical and maintain low expectations. I’ve made $491.44 since 2014 (no, that’s not a typo) and don’t expect monthly payments.
I recommend using Amazon Associates sparingly or not at all because there are hundreds of programs with better terms. Amazon’s program shouldn’t be your top priority.