Posted January 17, 2011 2:45 pm by with 2 comments

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Roger Ebert, the famed movie critic, has been sending out Tweets with Amazon affiliate links in them. Are you horrified? Apparently many people are and I don’t get it. Here’s the gist of the whole affair.

Two months ago, Ebert signed up for an Amazon affiliate account and began sending out two or three Twitter Tweets a day promoting various products. Generally he points out really good deals on great movies, but has been known to promote other items like coconut water (yuck).

A reporter for ClickZ noticed the Tweets and felt that they needed explaining. ClickZ, I love ya, but why? Even though, as they say in the article, celebrity Twitter endorsements are quite common, the reporter thought this particular event was unusual and wanted to know more. So he wrote an email to Ebert asking about the arrangement. The questions asked, which you can read here along with Ebert’s answers, seem to imply some kind of hidden business relationship between Ebert and Amazon. The reporter also asks about the “financial terms of the deal.”

Terms of the deal? He has an Amazon affiliate account, just like a million other mommy bloggers, DVD and music review sites, and pretty much anyone who runs a website.

And it’s not just ClickZ. A scan of Ebert’s Twitter feed and Twitter search will show that followers are complaining about his new attempt to make a dollar. Why? When you look at the volume of information he provides, these few Tweets can hardly be called spamming. The trouble seems to lie in the fact that he’s seen as a celebrity. If your Aunt Sally sent you a link to a cheap Alfred Hitchcock box set, you’d click it without complaint.

I came up through the affiliate marketing game and I know that people have this innate desire not to click affiliate links. They’ll go out of their way to avoid doing it, going straight to Amazon and typing in the name of the product to keep from giving anyone that fifty cent kickback, as if the money was coming out of their own pockets.

As for Roger Ebert, he says he hopes the affiliate money will help pay for his website expenses. I’m sure there are people who think that this is unnecessary, that a man of his status must be financially stable or rich even, so he doesn’t deserve those extra dollars.

I say, times are tough all over and with newspapers and magazines folding left and right, journalism doesn’t pay what it used to. But even if Ebert were the richest man on the planet, he should still be allowed to take advantage of Amazon’s affiliate program just like the rest of us.

Keep linking Mr. Ebert and I’ll happily click through and buy as a thank you for your many years of providing entertaining movie reviews.

  • I really don’t understand why people care about this kind of stuff so much…honestly who cares if he wants to make a few extra bucks promoting products he likes? If he’s sending out 100 tweets a day promoting crappy products then yeah – there might be a little cause for concern. If it really bothers people they always have the option of not following him…

  • matthew cryan

    To answer your question, perhaps people don’t tune in to Roger Ebert’s content with credit card at the ready expecting to read adverts. Has he always posted links to what he describes as deals or only since signing up as an affiliate? If it’s new content, then Amazon is already influencing what he writes and as he learns what’s most popular and sells the most so makes the most commission that might further narrow what he writes. Amazon may not be the best place either to buy what he recommends.

    The reason this is a story it whether he marks his paid for tweets as sponsored to distinguish them from editorial.