Pinterest Blocking Amazon Affiliate Links?

by on April 11, 2012

The other day Nathan Smith from Zynali Marketing Solutions commented on my “When Pinterest Met Affiliate Marketing” webinar post about how Pinterest was starting to strip the tags out of Amazon affiliate links. Shawn Collins tested it out and verified it. However, he was able to go in and edit the link properly. Today Shawn reported that all of his Amazon links on Pinterest are now going to the “spam page” notification below.

Pinterest Amazon Spam

Clicking through other people’s links, it looks like Pinterest is temporarily blocking all Amazon links as spam. Interestingly, I used PrettyLinks to build a redirect for an Amazon link using my www.tricia.me domain. Pinterest still recognized the final destination (Amazon) domain as “spam” and killed the link. Although it’s possible that it is just a glitch, this raises some big flags for affiliate marketers using Pinterest.

  • Pinterest can at any time block any domain and render everything that you have pinned from that domain useless. Be careful how much time you spend pinning links to other sites because in one flip of a switch they can all go dead.
  • Pinterest is clearly watching for too many pins from one source. Don’t get your own domain flagged for spam for having too many spammy pins.
  • Use redirects for all affiliate links. You can always direct the links to another domain from the back end if the end domain does get blocked. You’ll just need to find the same product through a different merchant.
  • Although this will probably get switched back because Amazon needs to place nice with Pinterest, it is likely that Pinterest will continue to strip out the affiliate links. Pinterest is onto affiliate markets and can very easily strip our coding from naked links. It would not be hard for them to do a search and replace of our affiliate codes for any network and substitute them with their own if they want.

There isn’t any reason that we all can’t participate in Pinterest in different ways to boost our traffic and our revenue. But Pinterest is not going to allow affiliate marketers to ruin their site (and should not!). Are you an affiliate, merchant, or OPM using Pinterest to build your business? How far should Pinterest go to protect itself from us?

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Thanks for reading! I am a lawyer, blogger, affiliate marketer, and consultant most known in the industry for my cashback site, SunshineRewards.com. You can reach me on Twitter @sunshinetricia.
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{ 46 comments }

Jim October 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Are all you people saying that a “spammer” is someone who uses Pinterest to sell products with his affiliate link?
The audacity of Pinterest to mess with any affiliate link for any reason.
And what about link cyphers?

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bike wheel lights August 18, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Hi there, I log on to your new stuff regularly. Your story-telling
style is awesome, keep up the good work!

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Engy August 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

my website has reported as a spam and blocked from pinterest.com , but it is a big website store i sell digital products on it, i tried to contact pinterest support but no benefits, pinterest.com has defaming my website, what can i do now to unblocked my website at pinterest.com?

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Monserrate August 10, 2012 at 12:22 am

There’s definately a great deal to learn about this subject. I love all the points you have made.
Monserrate has written about…MonserrateMy Profile

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DC Mover July 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

We have been successful posting to Pinterest and generating business even though we are a moving company.

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Alex Adekola July 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Seems like i’m late to the game. Just thought I had a brilliant idea until I googled it.

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Eunice July 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Not impressed. For the reason that they are making money from it. If I want to buy something I see then that’s a bonus to be taken to that site. Far more people would join if they shared their very large cake.

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Ex June 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Thanks for the article! I was looking for information about this, since I thought I could pin a link or two from stuff I wrote about…but I guess in the end, I agree. It is nicer to drive the traffic to my blog, then (maybe) convert the click. In the end, even if they don’t go to amazon, they may still become a follower and long time reader! :D
Ex has written about…Bluegrass Festival!My Profile

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Art June 13, 2012 at 12:49 am

Looks like they also started to block affiliate links from Commission Junction. Well it was just a matter of time before Pinterest stopped the affiliate stuff. Links back to a marketers regular money site seems to still work OK. But as mentioned in the article, pinning needs to be random. A few links from pins from other sites mixed in with a money site seems to work OK.
Art has written about…Franck Thilliez’s Syndrome EMy Profile

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Ashley Urke June 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I recently pinned some photos from my photography website {outside of my personal blog} and found later today that I was being blocked! After reading this, I see why now. So frustrating. I pinned maybe ten images. And now I cannot do anything on pinterest. I did notice that some of my pins from other non spam or affiliate related sources are also being marked as spam. So frustrating! Perhaps I need to be moving some of my most important pins somewhere else!

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Nathan June 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I was recently blocked from commenting. I contacted them via email, and the block was removed. They never replied, but I’m certain that it was only removed because I contacted them. They have an automated program that blocks people that make several comments that are similar.
I likely received the block for thanking people for pinning items from my sites. How intrusive, hey?
I would suggest going to https://support.pinterest.com/home and submit a ticket. Best wishes!
Nathan has written about…27 Tips For Using Pinterest For BusinessMy Profile

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Nathan May 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

The .php redirect method no longer works either. As mentioned before, the best way to promote affiliate products on Pinterest is to drive traffic to a relevant page on your site.
Nathan has written about…“Social Media Isn’t New” :: Slides from my talk hosted by Sault Ste. Marie Innovation CentreMy Profile

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Tricia May 16, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Interesting! So what is happening? Are they just pulling out the affiliate subid from the links during the redirect process?

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Nathan May 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm

No, I’m getting almost the same message as your screenshot (above), but with they have added “Continue to link anyway” option. Who would click that after being told that it is spam? Nobody.
Nathan has written about…“Social Media Isn’t New” :: Slides from my talk hosted by Sault Ste. Marie Innovation CentreMy Profile

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Nathan May 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

The funny thing is, I can create new .php links to the same destination page, and they work. I also notice that direct links from GAN won’t work either. It’s not that they are stripped, when you save them they are reverted back to the previously saved link. I’m going to do some further investigation and report back. Code word: Tiny Spoon
Nathan has written about…26 Tips For Using Pinterest For BusinessMy Profile

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MrKloster May 16, 2012 at 8:03 am

As an admin for the fastest growing classifieds qwikad I can tell you that stripping links can backfire. At one point we went nuts and blocked 80% of affiliate links. Guess what? We lost visitors just like that because not only the returning posters quit coming, they also told other affiliates that qwikad was blocking links. Common sense. As a matter of fact, affiliates can be the source of a social media website’s growth. I am just guessing but it is just a matter of time before pinterest allows those links back. Notice: craigslist doesn’t block links, although they could. I am sure they know something pinterest is still to learn about.
MrKloster has written about…Price Drop Auctions!My Profile

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jacqulyn April 30, 2012 at 8:51 am

Too bad they are blocking it. Many would have benefited from it

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K.T. Yort April 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I have all my links going to my own amazon product review sites. I agree with your comment on the last blog that I would rather have control over the sales pitch and such then direct link to amazon. Besides I feel like that way there is no question about inappropriate links or worrying about getting blocked or shut down. If you do pinterest right it can be very good for a long time.

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Troy April 17, 2012 at 11:19 pm

So it’s okay for Pinterest to make money from our pins using affiliate links, but not us?

Come on. You can’t have your cake, eat it and stay thin.

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Roger Shann April 18, 2012 at 6:10 am

I do think that they allow affiliate links at pinterest. but do not think that they stri pout others. Howver if you do not put an affiliate link in then they will add their own

Roger

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Roger Shann April 18, 2012 at 6:11 am

Sorry about typos :-)

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Roger Shann April 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm

How much of the link stripping is to do with Pinterest’s own interest (no pun intended) the individual states taxing of Amazon associates? I am a big Pinterset fan since photography is my hobby but would be very upset if they succumbed to corporate greed.

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gdo April 17, 2012 at 11:20 am

god damn spammers

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Jim October 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Must you be such a low life as to use the Lords’ name in vain?
What’s wrong with the moderator of this site to not delete such profanity?

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Oli April 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm

My pins are all still fine. I would really like to see what the defining factor is here, specifically whether or not it is just bad camouflage.

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Shawn Collins April 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

You have working, direct affiliate links from pins?

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Nathan April 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Thank you for the opening sentence mention. I have to read your blog, simply for the fact that my hands are in your header. ;)
The links that I build with php redirects are working, and the affiliate code is intact. I like the fact that Pinterest doesn’t want their pool to be peed in. The bottom line, as with anything else, is that if you are creating and pinning quality content, you have nothing to worry about.

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Scott Jangro April 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Nate, this redirect link is one that you edit the pin and put it back in after it’s created? Or it doesn’t get stripped in the first place?

Either way, it’s a matter of time before that same trick gets exploited by the spammers to put an Amazon affiliate link in there and then Pinterest squashes that too.

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Shawn Collins April 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Assuming this link structure (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BKOK2W/tag=velocitynyc) tracks OK, and it seems to, as far as the URL is concerned, then Pinterest isn’t blocking it (for now).

See http://pinterest.com/pin/96053404522718194/

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Nathan April 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm

You can manually add the pin by uploading an image and supplying the link. There is no editing required.

Agreed, it is something that will be abused, and subsequently eliminated.

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Shawn Collins April 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

The links to Amazon are working again from my old pins, and the affiliate ID is still stripped.

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Tricia April 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I just noticed that they were up a bit ago. Interestingly when you do a search for pins from Amazon, some of the spammers just jump right out at you. You can tell exactly what their bots are pulling and posting. How hard can it be for Pinterest to figure out the people who are truly spamming the system and the people who are integrating some linking into their boards more naturally?

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Scott Jangro April 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Why put in that effort and further encourage the bad players to figure out how to not get blocked?

What benefit is it to Pinterest to allow anyone put affiliate links on there?

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Shawn Collins April 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I’m willing to include quality, unique content with pins if I can use affiliate links.

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Scott Jangro April 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

You’re acceptable collateral damage. Blame the spammers who ruin it for us.

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Shawn Collins April 11, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I have nothing but scorn and contempt for those spammers of all stripes, and wish them the very worst.

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Loretta April 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Will be interesting to see if they go back to using Skimlinks after this. It really seemed like they were bullied into pulling it in the first place and what good is a cool site like Pinterest if the creator can’t find a way to be profitable as well.

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Scott Jangro April 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm

They’re funded to the tune of $27.5M They don’t need to make money at all right now, never mind in a way that acts as a lightning rod like dropping in their own affiliate links on their users’ content (regardless of the fact that they have every right to do so and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it.)

I don’t think they’ll put Skimlinks back in, or any affiliate solution. They’ll find a bigger and better way to do so by leveraging the trend and intent data they are gathering on and from their users.

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Shawn Collins April 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Maybe Facebook will give them $1.5B

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Joe Sousa April 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I wonder if this would have happened if that guy that was making $2000 a day posting Amazon links to Pinterest would have kept his mouth shut.

When I post stuff to Pinterest it nearly always is something from one of my sites. Sending the traffic direct to the merchant creates too many opportunities for something bad to happen. At least if the Pinterest traffic is going to my site I still have some control

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Tricia April 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm

That’s exactly how I feel. It’s an extra click to the conversion, but I have more control.

And I was wondering the same thing about that spammer guy!!

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Joe Sousa April 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm

You knew either Pinterest or Amazon would do something about that spammer. It wasn’t good for either of them.

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Scott Jangro April 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Good info.

But no surprise. It was only a matter of time.

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Tricia April 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks, Scott. I think you predicted all of this since the day we found out we could pin affiliate links!

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Shawn Collins April 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

This is certainly a disincentive for me to provide unique content to Pinterest with links to relevant products as I’ve done at http://pinterest.com/affiliatetip/movies-that-affected-my-life/

I will still happily use the service for traffic to my sites, though.

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Tricia April 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I’m anxious to see how long it takes before the links come back up. I have to think the regular Amazon links will be reactivated. But it does seem they are really against the affiliate links.

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