Saturday October 10, 2020 |Notes

Affiliate links drive publishers to push free Prime Day coverage

Headlines and news stories are largely driven by incentives. For many sites, this has come to mean pushing articles that prominently feature affiliate links to Amazon. Prime Day is largely due to the huge coverage the event has garnered from blog and sites pushing out affiliate links.

The concept of affiliate marketing is nothing new to the web, nor Amazon. Amazon introduced one of the very first affiliate programs when it launched in 1996, and the practice is commonplace among ecommerce sites. There's been a change in the way affiliate programs, particularly the Amazon Associates program, is driving content to include links to Amazon.

Rather than requiring Amazon to pay fees for placement or clicks, affiliates are simply hoping that enough customers will clicks their affiliate links, then make any purchase on Amazon within 24 hours. It's less common to see these sites push content with links to other retailers, and even less so to any independent online businesses.

Marketplace Pulse covered this topic this week and made some [excellent points about how Amazon doesn't have to spend much on PR or marketing due to the success of the affiliate program:

Affiliates leave Amazon without needing to do as much marketing itself and without spending effort on deal curation. All of the publications will do that for Amazon. The affiliate payouts Amazon will pay out are insignificant compared to the revenue they will generate, especially from newly subscribed Prime members. That’s why the affiliate fee for new Prime members is $3-5 depending on the membership type.

The article went on to point out how much online content is driven by Amazon's affiliate program:

Amazon affiliate links are in news sites, online magazines, blogs, video platforms, and social networks. Amazon got them there because those with audiences realized they could monetize them using affiliate links better than with ads. Paying a 3% affiliate fee for a transaction in the Toys category out of a 15% referral fee it charges the marketplace seller is a no-brainer.

Amazon benefits from sites being desperate to get any cut of Amazon's sales, and it's driving content to an unfavorable degree. Smaller sites generally pay higher much commissions or pay fees for placement and/or clicks, yet receive almost no mention in 'content' pieces. It's not healthy for a competitive balance, and it's disappointing that more sites don't take another approach.

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