Review Information Last Updated on: March 13, 2016
Founded in 1996, Amazon Associates was one of the first affiliate networks on the Internet. Today, it is arguably the largest, with over 1.6 million sellers and hundreds of thousands of affiliate members.
Amazon Associates Tech Implementation Rating: 5 out of 5.
Amazon Associates Publisher Reporting & Admin Control Panel Rating: 5 out of 5.
Amazon Associates Payment Rating: 3 out of 5.
Amazon Associates Account Help Rating: 4 out of 5.
Arguably the largest affiliate network on the Internet, Amazon Associates offers products from over 1.6 million sellers. And the program boasts hundreds of thousands of affiliate publishers. Still, the main knock on Amazon’s affiliate program is that its commissions are just far too low. Publishers start at a 4% commission rate (though the rate can get as high as 15%, based on volume); so this is an all-too-common yet valid gripe. That said, mixing in the right offers on the right type of site can bring in some nice incremental revenue, particularly if volume is high and/or users are already in the buying cycle.
Like other affiliate networks, Amazon Associates pays out on a CPA basis. But unlike other affiliate networks such as CJ or LinkShare which may pay out on leads or other non-sale actions from time to time, Amazon Associates only pays on completed sales, making it a true cost per sale (CPS) network. And as already mentioned, the commission rate for new publishers starts at 4%. But as sales volume increases, commission rates also increase, up to as high as 15%.
On low-cost items such as a $20 book, at a 4% commission rate, the affiliate publisher sees a pretty paltry 80 cents in revenue from the sale. Commission revenue does start to add up on high-ticket purchases such as a $500 camera ($20 commission); or when users fill up their shopping carts with more than just that $20 book (affiliates collect commissions on all items purchased, not just the single linked-to product); or if volume is particularly high.
Low commissions aside, everything else about Amazon Associates is top-notch, starting with dead-simple, yet highly customizable link and banner creation. Amazon offers its affiliates the ability to create custom banners and links for any product page on Amazon.com, allowing publishers to send their users exactly where they would want to land on Amazon’s website. Besides product-based ads, there are also general-use category- and promo-based ads that affiliates have the option to use.
For power users, Amazon Associates offers widgets and aStore. Widgets give publishers the ability to create interactive ads that allow users to search, rotate through numerous products, browse deals, find new music, and more. Creating an aStore is a feature that allows affiliates the opportunity to set up their own stores hosted at Amazon.com. Like creating standard banners and links, setting up widgets and aStores is fairly easy and straightforward.
For highly skilled developers, Amazon Associates offers a Product Advertising API, which allows access to Amazon.com’s product selection, product discovery capabilities, customer reviews, Listmania lists, and more.
The affiliate control panel is also easy to use and offers reporting that is on par with all of the best ad networks. Simple to use, affiliates have the ability to generate simple earnings reports based on any period of time (no matter the length), or more detailed reports such as orders, referrals, link-type reports and more. Pretty much any report you would want is available and fairly easy to generate.
Customer service at Amazon Associates is very good, if not great. It misses out on getting the highest marks due to the fact that affiliates are not assigned a real person as an account representative. Additionally, there is no email address to contact for support. But, there is a phone number that affiliates can call for help, as well as a support contact form, and a live chat feature, which is uncommon among ad networks of any type. This live chat can be especially helpful if you’re stuck on something simple that may only take a minute or two to solve. The live chat feature is available seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m Pacific Time, which should be convenient for most.
Unlike contextual display ad networks such as Google AdSense, implementing ad units from Amazon’s affiliate network may not work for all Web publishers. Those who have the greatest success with Amazon Associates are typically either product review sites whose users are already in the buying cycle and/or high-volume sites with a high trust factor. It’s not for everyone, but the program is highly reputable and that warrants testing at the very least.