Jonathan Saipe

Amazon Affiliates Made To Struggle With Social Media

10 July 2009, Jonathan Saipe

An interesting blog post by Joshua Odmark on Search Engine Journal came under my radar today regarding Amazon’s refusal to pay commissions on sales from shortened URLs posted by their affiliates on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

The nub of the article was that shortened Amazon affiliate links (e.g. using services such as TinyURL) published on Twitter and Facebook were not compensated by Amazon after sales had been made as a result of clicks from those links.

Zero Commissions from Social Media Sites
Whilst Amazon recorded sales being made (Amazon affiliates can track sales using real-time reporting), the commissions were zero.

Basically Amazon are relying on their Ts and Cs stating that a link has to be from “your site” in order to be eligible for commission.

What does this say about how Amazon affiliates should use social media to promote their affilate sites or links? Well, basically it scuppers those plans. As Joshua points out, whilst it may not be considered dirty tricks from Amazon, it doesn’t bode well if many other affiliate programmes were to follow suit.

First SEO now Social Media?
Amazon affiliates have in the past been hit hard in SERPs with the Google duplicate content filter, especially those screenscraping content using Amazon Web Services. (For the record I’m not necessarily endoring that!). So, this is another kick in the teeth.

Google’s Ok with Shortened URLs. Why Not Amazon?
Now, Matt Cutts of Google states that any URL shortening service that uses the correct 301 (permanent) redirect protocol will still be followed by the Google bot and will be recognised as a backlink despite the different domain name, so arguably why can’t Amazon follow suit and recognise that social media is here to stay and that shortened affiliate links will be found plastered all over social sites whether they like it or not?