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Old 02-22-2013, 06:25 PM   #1
KentE
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Changes to Amazon's Affiliate program, and how it affects us

I've read a couple of posts in the "Bargains" forum today about this, and thought maybe a discussion should be started outside of that forum.
Quotes from MR member Jalandar (in Aradata's Affiliate Thread):
Quote:
Amazon's new affiliate program policy changes are probably going to affect you.

If you have more than 20k free kindle ebooks purchased (directly or indirectly) from your links, and if free ebooks are more than 80% of the total kindle ebooks sold through your links, you lose ALL your affiliate program income, even non-kindle related.

Just wanted to give you a heads up.... Policy goes into effect starting with March.
and
Quote:
Sadly the tools on the amazon affiliate program to track free kindle book transactions wont be up until march 1, so we can't even really know for sure if we're effected or not because right now they dont track them at all.
"

And from MR member (and noted blog host) Koland, from the "horror" thread, in a discussion of FreeReadFeads:
Quote:
I expect several of these sites to disappear starting March 1. Amazon just made a huge change to their affiliate program and if too many free books are purchased using referral links, the affiliate loses all income for the month.... :
This seems really scary to me, and smacks of some bizarre logic on Amazon's part (certainly wouldn't be the first time....)

A lot of us depend on blogs & independent websites to help us select books, because they're more diligent and better educated that I am about separating the "wheat from the chaff" in both free and reduced price books. I've certainly purchased books (with real money) from affiliate links through these sites.
I use EReaderIQ and FreeReadFeeds when I have time, and made buying (with real money) decisions frequently after reading (especially) EReaderIQ. I also get a fair number of free books pointed out through all.
I'm worried that it sounds like this policy may wreck havoc in the systems that are so useful to us!
The logic for Amazon is kind of twisted:
They don't make money giving away free books, so why should they reward those who help give them away? I don't know, but Amazon has already decided it's beneficial to them in the long run to give away free books. (Of course, my limited understanding of the Affiliate program is that they don't exactly reward those who help them give away free stuff, but they do reward those who help them sell stuff because they're giving away free stuff....)
Amazon has certainly been helped in it's mission by the sites mentioned above, and gets lots of additional market penetration as a result.
I'd love to hear more from more knowledgeable folks about the possible impact of this policy, and whether we can do anything to mitigate the possible damage? (or if we should....)
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:30 PM   #2
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I remember, perhaps two years ago, that Amazon stopped giving affiliates any money for ebook sales. That managed to get ironed out in a couple of months. I imagine this new policy will go through some changes that will make it more palatable for everyone involved as well.
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:03 AM   #3
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The new policy is worse than punishing those who link to free books. If you were to click a link on my blog or in arcdata's thread, that sets a 24 hr cookie (which is what the mega-traffic freebie sites rely upon).

If you then come here and click on tag-less links to free books and purchase them, you'll be adding those free books to the last affiliate's total, possibly causing them not to get paid that month.

If you don't want to do this, be sure to clear your cookies before going to get free books (just "today" may not be enough, if the tag was set the day before -- you need to use "all" to ensure that it is cleared; even that may not be enough, but it's the best you can do).
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Old 02-23-2013, 12:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koland View Post
The new policy is worse than punishing those who link to free books. If you were to click a link on my blog or in arcdata's thread, that sets a 24 hr cookie (which is what the mega-traffic freebie sites rely upon).

If you then come here and click on tag-less links to free books and purchase them, you'll be adding those free books to the last affiliate's total, possibly causing them not to get paid that month.

If you don't want to do this, be sure to clear your cookies before going to get free books (just "today" may not be enough, if the tag was set the day before -- you need to use "all" to ensure that it is cleared; even that may not be enough, but it's the best you can do).
Thanks for the additional info, Koland (and thanks for your blog, which I really enjoy!) The more details I hear, the worse this sounds.
I appreciate the warning/request added to your signature line, but I'm not sure I would have noticed it anytime soon if this hadn't been brought up in discussions. I'd really hate to do harm to you! (or other sites I like.)

On my drive home, I think maybe a light just came on for me. I've wondered about FreeReadFeed, which seems so similar to EReaderIQ (and someone said they're owned by the same entity, but I didn't understand why they would duplicate their site). Maybe this is EReaderIQ being prepared to distance itself from the "free" recommendations, by setting up dual affiliations? One for "reduced price", one for "free, and we don't have anything to lose"?
Of course, even that wouldn't save them from the "I-do-all-my-book-shopping-in-the-same-time window" guilt by association, as you've explained above.

If any of you who will be affected by this have suggestions about constructive action the rest of us might take (contacting someone at Amazon?), please let us know. I'll try to modify my clicking behavior to avoid damage!

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Old 02-23-2013, 12:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koland View Post
If you don't want to do this, be sure to clear your cookies before going to get free books (just "today" may not be enough, if the tag was set the day before -- you need to use "all" to ensure that it is cleared; even that may not be enough, but it's the best you can do).
I will definitely do this. Perhaps a reminder when providing freebie links in one of the MR bargain and free threads would be a good idea.

This new Amazon policy seems nonsensical.
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Old 02-23-2013, 01:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BelleZora View Post
The new Amazon policy seems nonsensical.
It makes perfect sense to me, but maybe I'm missing something. Amazon wants to stop paying a cut on unrelated sales to entities who don't bring in any money. I don't blame them.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:39 PM   #7
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I think this is a trainwreck in the making. What really annoys me is that you can link to legitimate paid books but then if your website users go on "free ebook benders" within the 24-hour period your affiliate cookie is active, you could end up losing all of your commissions for the month.

It's going to kill the free ebook referral sites that depend on commissions...lots of bloggers and reviewers could get caught up in this mess.

Ultimately, I think this is one of the dumber moves I've seen Amazon make.

The free ebook sites and links have been a HUGE part in helping Amazon become so dominant in the ebook industry.

If those sites decide "We're not going to sit back and take this," they could switch their affiliate programs to Smashwords (11%+ commissions) or Kobo (5% commissions) and help push those sites to much higher traffic and sales levels.

At least that's what I hope happens.
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Old 02-23-2013, 02:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by koland View Post
The new policy is worse than punishing those who link to free books. If you were to click a link on my blog or in arcdata's thread, that sets a 24 hr cookie (which is what the mega-traffic freebie sites rely upon).

If you then come here and click on tag-less links to free books and purchase them, you'll be adding those free books to the last affiliate's total, possibly causing them not to get paid that month.

If you don't want to do this, be sure to clear your cookies before going to get free books (just "today" may not be enough, if the tag was set the day before -- you need to use "all" to ensure that it is cleared; even that may not be enough, but it's the best you can do).
Clear which cookies specifically, Karen? Cookies are extremely useful - I'm certainly not going to wipe out all the useful information that's stored about the sites I visit!
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:02 PM   #9
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Clear which cookies specifically, Karen? Cookies are extremely useful - I'm certainly not going to wipe out all the useful information that's stored about the sites I visit!
This. I often have multiple active "sessions" happening in my various browser tabs. I'm not going to clear my cookies just because I happen to see an interesting freebie listed in the horror deals thread, for example. I hate to say it, but for me the best way to "help" affiliates in light of this is to avoid picking up affiliate tags in the first place by sticking to non-affiliate links. I'm certainly not going to take on the burden of prevention via cookie management when the situation is strictly between Amazon and the affiliates.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:10 PM   #10
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I've gotten into the habit of manually stripping affiliate codes from URLs if I know they're there. Nothing personal, but the 24 hour life of the cookies has always bothered me.
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Old 02-23-2013, 03:32 PM   #11
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Please clear your browser cookies before purchasing free books, to avoid penalizing any amazon affiliates you frequent.
LOL, I don't think so.

I have no clue how the referrer tags work, or even what percentage comes from a sale. Can you have multiple referrer tags (from multiple websites) under one account? If so, will Amazon add up all those freebies, and paid items to determine a % of free vs paid?

Does this mean if it's a freebie and there's a referrer tag hiding in a link no one's going to be pointing fingers anymore if they are an affiliate because at that point it doesn't track back to their site?

Color me confused...

Last edited by copyrite; 02-23-2013 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 02-23-2013, 04:11 PM   #12
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Affiliates like ereaderiq could just not put their tags on free ebooks, I suppose. I rarely pick up free ebooks based on their links, just books on my watchlist that have price drops.

I have a question. If I click on an affiliate link for affiliate A, don't buy anything, and an hour later, click an affiliate link for affiliate B, does that overwrite the cookie? I would wager that I click on a lot of affiliate links daily.
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Old 02-23-2013, 05:19 PM   #13
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would wager that I click on a lot of affiliate links daily.
Me too, and not always to buy like you say.

I almost always clean up links and get rid of affiliate tags from my PC, but it's too much of a pain to do that from my mobile devices.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:10 PM   #14
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It makes perfect sense to me, but maybe I'm missing something. Amazon wants to stop paying a cut on unrelated sales to entities who don't bring in any money. I don't blame them.
Exactly. What's puzzling is why they even started doing in this first place. I can see it maybe if it is someone who has never shopped at Amazon before and they gain a new customer. If I click through an affiliate and pick up a freebie, and then several hours later go back to Amazon and buy a lawnmower, that has nothing to do with the fact that I clicked through to get the freebie. So basically they have been paying for a service they're not getting.
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Old 02-23-2013, 06:13 PM   #15
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Affiliates like ereaderiq could just not put their tags on free ebooks, I suppose. I rarely pick up free ebooks based on their links, just books on my watchlist that have price drops.

I have a question. If I click on an affiliate link for affiliate A, don't buy anything, and an hour later, click an affiliate link for affiliate B, does that overwrite the cookie? I would wager that I click on a lot of affiliate links daily.
Even if they don't put the affiliate tags on the free books, if someone buys the free books during the 24-hour cookie session it will still count against the affiliate.

Yes, the second affiliate overrides the first.
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