If you are a member of the Amazon Associates Program (the real name of the Amazon affiliate program), you need to be sure that you keep up with the changes to their terms. In particular a major change was made on March 1, 2013, for those who promote free Kindle eBooks. If you are not in compliance, you may lose your commissions completely.
What Are the Changes?
Effective this week, Amazon is limiting your overall commissions if you are promoting too many of the free Kindle eBooks. The text reads:
“In addition, notwithstanding the advertising fee rates described on this page or anything to the contrary contained in this Operating Agreement, if we determine you are primarily promoting free Kindle eBooks (i.e., eBooks for which the customer purchase price is $0.00), YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO EARN ANY ADVERTISING FEES DURING ANY MONTH IN WHICH YOU MEET THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
(a) 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links; and
(b) At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks.”
While this does not impact all affiliates, it will impact those most who 1) primarily promote deals and free products, and 2) those who promote eBooks. In fact, I have seen a number of affiliates who primarily promote the free eBooks.
Why Is This Change Important?
A lot of deal and coupon sites/bloggers use the promotion of these free Kindle eBooks in order to set cookies in the hopes that the readers will also purchase other items while at Amazon. This change will force Associates to no longer rely on that cookie setting method and instead promote the regular priced products as well to ensure that they do not tip the scales on the 20,000 eBooks at 80% free limit.
The limits that Amazon put in place do allow for the average blogger or deal site to mention free Kindle eBooks now and again. However, affiliates will want to keep an eye on their accounts if they promote them regularly. It’s also possible that even if you are promoting the free eBooks in order to set the cookies that customers are not always downloading them but are, in fact, making other purchases. That will likely depend on your audience.
Are the New Terms Fair?
Amazon is just essentially closing up a loophole here, although it will likely impact the way that many affiliates promote the free eBooks (which isn’t a good thing for the authors of those eBooks). Amazon recognizes that a certain percentage of sales made through their affiliates are purchases that the customer only made through an affiliate link because they had clicked on the free eBook link. I can’t fault Amazon for that, but it does make promoting the free eBooks less desirable.
There are certainly other merchants where the same holds true but the case is particularly strong for Amazon because they have such a loyal shopper base that can find anything from DVDs to Cheerios to yoga pants after one generic affiliate click. I do think it’s harsh that affiliates would lose their entire monthly revenue because if they have a really popular deal site, they may hit these minimum numbers every month that they promote any of the free eBooks. I also wonder if upcoming changes might also target Associates who promote the free mp3s or various free credit offers that they run.
Will you be impacted by this change? Do you think Amazon was fair in making it? Either to Associates/affiliates or to the authors of the free eBooks?