Amazon Associate (Affiliate) Program Review: Why I love them

by Yang Yang on August 12, 2010

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There are tens of thousands of different affiliate programs out there you can use to monetize your traffic. A few of the biggest players are ClickBank, eBay, Amazon, CJ and Google Affiliate Network. Unlike CJ and Google Affiliate Network who are simply brokers of merchants and affiliates, Amazon and eBay are independent merchants. I tried CJ with no luck at all – when I say at all, I mean it. Maybe it’s because I’m not an AdWords type of marketer. Never tried Google Affiliate Network though, but we’ll soon find out how that goes. I’ll keep you updated on what I’m doing. ClickBank has too many information products that require strong marketing skills or generous AdWords spending to get ahead. eBay doesn’t let me sign up in the first place because of my location.

I’m currently averaging around $100 bucks per month (Update: as of Mar. 2011, I’m making about $400 / month. ) via the Amazon Associate Program. It’s not much but believe it or not, I’m really enjoying it. It’s terrific products they have there and the money is easy because what I did was just a few posts on that recommends good development books to my readers. They end up buying more than what I recommended, 70% of the time I’ll say. Although they started on books, Amazon is such a huge independent merchant with such a massive inventory of almost everything you can name that you need in the daily life. So they are a rather easy start for novice affiliate marketers. All right, here goes my review of the Amazon affiliate program.

What are great?

  1. amazon associate program earning statsAmazon is a globally recognized brand. And because of this, the conversion rate is pretty high when you are sending traffic to them. Chances are the visitors you refer to Amazon used to shop there or at least heard of / known them for some time. Take my earning stats of the first 10 days of August for example, over the 622 clicks I sent to them, I have an overall conversion rate of 4.66% – that’s not bad for casual, non-targeted traffic (as opposed to traffic gathered from AdWords). Roughly speaking, 1 sale was made in every 21 people who visited Amazon via my link.
  2. People are already familiar with the products at Amazon because they are all recognized brands. It just makes the sales even easier to make. People follow and trust brands. It takes tremendous time and commitment to build a brand, but once you establish it in the market, your products and services will sell themselves. With other affiliate networks, the hard part is the pre-sale. With Amazon, you don’t even have to do that at all. The only thing you need to do is to send them to the product pages at Amazon. They are already optimized to attract the maximum sales possible.
  3. Amazon has such a diversity and abundance of products you can sell. It has a huge selection of almost everything you can think of that you may want to sell online. It covers almost all the niches that you ever have the time to build. No matter what you are interested in and the topic of your website, you are certainly to find something at Amazon that fits into it. In fact, Amazon itself has inspired me to build more niche websites in the months to come. For a start, yesterday I launched Standing Desks and Military Fiction Books. Will keep you posted on how they are doing and how I’m doing them.
  4. Many people I refer to Amazon end up purchasing much more than what I recommended. They may not buy the things on the landing page (the referral link you give them to arrive at Amazon), but the Amazon Associate Program will always credit you for anything else they purchase, even on partner sites. As long as they make the purchase(s) within 24 hours of clicking your referral link, they are are going into your affiliate credits.
  5. Amazon has a rather sophisticated and usable associate / affiliate platform. I don’t need to even start counting the number of ways you can put Amazon affiliate links up on your site: product links, banners, pages (any page on Amazon can be linked and attributed to you) and widgets (product search, Carousel, deals, mp3 clips, favorites, slideshows, auto part finders, blog updates, product cloud, wish list, Omakase and so forth) in a variety of different forms. You can also create an aStore to exhibit and sell a selected set of products to a targeted group. However, the best stuff in their arsenal is the Product Advertising API by which you can have a niche site up in minutes. You can do mass queries to get any kind of information regarding a specific product or a group of similar ones, the title, price, manufacturer, brand, publisher, description, features, availability, customer reviews, you name it. I’m going to create a script to do just that, or perhaps a WordPress plug-in to do the dirty work for you.
  6. Amazon products are rarely returned and customer payments rarely refunded. In all the sales I made until now since I started the associate membership, over 400 of them in total, only 1 return happened. It goes without saying that this is a very good sign that you will be guaranteed of the reward for your referral efforts. You certainly don’t want to recommend products that are frequently returned to your visitors and readers.
  7. Amazon Associates is absolutely the best program for beginning Internet marketers. They are easy to use and easy to get started. Sign up, visit any page on and you can build a referral link in 10 seconds. Post the link on your website or blog and write a genuine review. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get your first sale. Stuff on it are needed by many people and you have ocean-broad options. Best of all, for reasons I put forth above, they are really easy to sell, especially the books. For example, you can quickly start a books website with millions of pages by these books ISBN databases and link to Amazon sales page in this manner. These sites are not pretty but believe me, they are pulling adorable figures of monthly income via Amazon affiliate sales and Google AdSense.
  8. 5 times higher eCPM than AdSense. I can’t disclose any eCPM information of my AdSense performance as per the TOS, but I’m having 5 – 10 times the average eCPM with Amazon products (mostly books) than with Google AdSense. I’m not saying AdSense is inferior to Amazon associate program in this regard but you have to do it right. AdSense is a perfect money maker on large traffic that is not quite optimized and targeted, but on products sites, Amazon program rocks way better!

What are not so great?

  1. The commission rate is pretty much the lowest across the industry. They have a performance structure of variable commission rates (they call it advertising fee rates) that as the number of items you sold increase, the commission rate increases. Starting at 4.00%, the highest possible rate you can achieve is 8.50%. Some affiliate program such as those from ClickBank offers 75% or more commission rates.
  2. The cookie lifespan sucks too. It’s just 24 hours. What this means is that if the person you refer to Amazon doesn’t purchase anything within 24 hours of clicking through you referral link, you earn nothing and the referral is history. You get nothing neither even if he orders something after the 24 hours period. Other affiliate network / merchants typically have a much longer cookie period such as 60 days.
  3. Pain for foreign marketers. Amazon provides direct deposit to American residential marketers who receive their earnings almost instantly, but for foreign residents who live outside of US, check becomes the only venue to get the money. And it usually takes more than a month to arrive. It sucks. Sometimes it can really kill the motivation of foreign associates, me included. I guess they just don’t quite care about this. I would be very much glad to see them offer wire transfer as an additional approach to send the affiliate rewards.

So what do you say? I’m certainly going to create more Amazon niche websites soon! Subscribe to this blog to read more tips on making money online with the Amazon Associate Program. I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing.