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What You Need to Know About Using Amazon Affiliate Links...

September 22, 2017

This article is intended to help you make an informed decision about becoming an Amazon affiliate.  If you would like to discuss the subjects discussed in this article, please schedule a time to visit with me.


If you use advertising on your social media accounts as a source of revenue, you may be interested in becoming an Amazon Affiliate.  Amazon is the world's largest Internet-based retailer based on total sales and market capitalization.  And, it seems the company would like to share some of its money with you if you are willing to advertise its products and comply with its requirements.


On its website, Amazon entices influencers like you to become affiliates / associates by promising the possibility to earn up to 10% in advertising fees from qualifying purchases while choosing from over a million products to advertise and avoiding the hassle of obtaining third-party advertiser approvals. 


So, what exactly do you have to do to capitalize on this opportunity?  Let's take a look...


Be prepared to do a lot of reading if you really want to dig into the legality and requirements related to this program!  If you click on the Advertising Fees tab, you are taken to a page with links to 9 different statements, all written in legalese, and all of which are "incorporated by reference" in the Associates Program Operating Agreement.  In other words, even if you thoroughly read the entire Operating Agreement, you will miss everything included in these 9 statements because they are simply referred to in the Operating Agreement.




Although you are probably wishing I would dig right into the nuances of the legal terms and conditions of the program, I figured I would address what the policies say about making money first. 


You will likely end up feeling like this guy after trying to navigate the Amazon fee maze.




In short (as much as that is possible), an Amazon Associate earns money through this program if:

  1. A customer clicks through a special link on the associate's site to an Amazon site; AND

  2. During a single session on the Amazon site (a "single session" ends if 24 hours pass, customer orders something other than a "digital product", or customer clicks on a different "special link") the customer:

    • purchases a Product using the 1-Click feature, purchases a product by adding it to the shopping cart and completing the purchased within 89 days of clicking the special link, or purchases a digital product by streaming or downloading it from an Amazon site; AND

  3. Customer actually receives and pays for the product; AND

  4. The purchase does not meet the definition of a "disqualified purchase." 

Feeling dizzy yet?  I'll spare you the definition of a "disqualified purchase" and skip to the potential compensation if somebody manages to make a "qualified purchase" through a special link on your site.

 The % you can earn from a qualified purchase through a special link from your site depends on the nature of the product purchased.  The percentages range from 0% (gift cards and wine) to 10% (Amazon fashion, digital video games, luxury beauty, and Amazon coins).  The chart shown above is not an all-inclusive list of fees that can be earned through this program.  Associates can also earn "special fees" or "bounty" if select products are purchased through a special link on your site.   




Amazon requires "strict compliance" with the rules and guidelines it provides with respect to use of its trademarks and logos.  If you are considering participating in this program, you will want to become familiar with these guidelines.

 Essentially, if you are permitted to participate in this program, Amazon will provide you the exact images you are allowed to use.  If you alter or modify any of those images in any way and publish them on your site, you may regret it.




The nuts and bolts of what you will need to know and understand is found in the Associates Program Operating Agreement.  If you desire to participate in this program, you are required to accept this agreement "without change."  In other words, "we have the money, you want the money, so these terms are non-negotiable."

The Operating Agreement makes it very clear that, although you may include a special link on your site, and although customers may click on the link on your site, those individuals are Amazon's customers, not yours...


With respect to disclosing your participation in this program, Amazon requires that you clearly state the following: “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.”  In addition to requiring this disclosure, Amazon expressly prohibits making any other public communication related to your participation in the program.


 The Operating Agreement establishes that all disputes will be resolved by binding arbitration, unless you wish to pursue an action in small claims court.  In addition, the Agreement includes a class action waiver.


I have touched on just a few topics that should be considered when determining if you want to participate in Amazon's Associate Program or, if you are already participating in the program, when trying to understand what exactly you have gotten yourself into.  If you have any specific questions about this program, or if you would like to discuss my legal analysis regarding anything related to the program, please schedule a time to visit with me.  If you would like to request a similar article about a particular site, company, or service, please email me your ideas.

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