Maybe I’m not the best qualified to make assumptions about why Amazon Associates–the online retailers affiliate program–just pulled the plug on allowing affiliates to send referrals via paid search, but that doesn’t stop me from making an educated guess.
I suspect that Amazon finally realized that it could do its own keyword bidding and cut out the middle-man–those bidding pennies on long-tail keywords and making dollars in affiliate commissions. Here’s the email that Amazon just sent out to its affiliates:
Dear Amazon Associate:
We’re writing to let you know about a change to the Amazon Associates Program. After careful review of how we are investing our advertising resources, we have made the decision to no longer pay referral fees to Associates who send users to www.amazon.com, www.amazon.ca, or www.endless.com through keyword bidding and other paid search on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines, and their extended search networks. If you’re not sure if this change affects you, please visit this page for FAQs.
As of May 1, 2009, Associates will not be paid referral fees for paid search traffic. Also, in connection with this change, as of May 1, 2009, Amazon will no longer make data feeds available to Associates for the purpose of sending users to the Amazon websites in the US or Canada via paid search.
This change applies only to the Associates programs in North America. If you are conducting paid search activities in connection with one of Amazon’s Associates Programs outside of the US and Canada, please refer to the applicable country’s Associates Program Operating Agreement for relevant terms and conditions.
We appreciate your continued support and participation in this advertising Program. If you have questions or concerns, please write to us by using the Contact Us form available on Associates Central.
The Amazon Associates Program
Is this the end of search marketing for Amazon affiliates? Yes, and no. While you can no longer send traffic directly to Amazon via paid search, I’m assuming you can still send searchers to a landing page and THEN send them to Amazon.com. Also, there doesn’t appear to be any restrictions on using search engine optimization (SEO) to send referarals, but good luck trying to get your own affiliate link to rank in Google.
OK, time to hand this over to the Pilgrims that live for affiliate marketing. What’s your take on this move by Amazon?