The Amazon Associates Program - The Pros and Cons

Last Update: December 06, 2018

I was asked by another WA member recently to give my thoughts on the Amazon Associates program. Then immediately after I got asked why I use Amazon instead of say Chewy or PetCo or PetSmart. If you didn't catch it, I'm in the pet care niche.

Given this I just wanted to sum up my thoughts on Amazon's program so people have a clear picture of it. Note I've had a great experience so far with Amazon so I definitely lean on the positive side.

The Pros of Amazon:
  • Amazon is a well trusted name in eCommerce which means people buy stuff from Amazon all the time.
  • Your Amazon affiliate link isn't only good for the products you referred someone to the site with. If they make ANY purchase at all you get credit for it. As an example, over Black Friday someone bought $2,000 in legos after clicking a link from me. I got paid for it. I promote pet care related items.
  • Amazon has the largest set of items available of almost any Affiliate program and they are branching into services too. Most of Amazons programs provide bounties if people sign up for them.
  • You gets tons of free creative images directly through their API. No need to go find your own product photos or manually download/upload them (which is against ToS by the way).
    -Great built in reporting capabilities and up to 100 affiliate link categories built in. This means you can categorize your links to see where traffic is coming from.
  • Using Amazon doesn't stop you from adding other links on your site. You can use multiple affiliate programs at once.
  • They are super reliable and trusted. I have been paid every day right on time with direct deposit to my account.
  • They've introduced 'OneLink' which basically means if someone from another country is reading your site and clicks over to Amazon you can still get credit for a sale. OneLink basically introduces the equivalent product for someone in the UK even if they clicked on a link for the product in the US. A great perk for those of us with sites that have international appeal.
The Cons of Amazon:
  • The 24 hour cookie. This is a drag, but given the way people shop on Amazon so frequently it is expected in my opinion.
  • The pay scale in certain product categories is lousy. And I would assume it will continue to slowly decrease as Amazon continues to get more dominant in each space. If you're selling low value products Amazon might not make sense unless you have tremendous site volume.
  • They do pay on a 2 month delay.
  • They do have lots of restrictions in their operating agreement around things you're allowed to do: you can't post prices, you can't say 'See it on Amazon', you can't redirect links (through a service like Jing/Bitly) for centralized reporting purposes.

A Mathmatical Example:

So let's take a look at some of the math. Should I keep Amazon, or should I go register for Chewy? Well that all depends on the value of the items my site promotes. Let's assume I am promoting dog toys which have an average value of $5.00.

Amazon pays 8% per sale and Chewy pays $0.30 per click. See the table below for the payout differences of 100 clicks with a 5% conversion rate.

Then look at it for a $100 item, or a $200 item. You can do this for all affiliate programs.

So What Do I Do?

There's no simply answer. If all you want to do is maximize short term revenue you could easily go ahead and switch things over to Chewy. Or you could even consider having certain pages on your site point to different affiliate programs depending on the pay scale you might achieve.

But you have to keep in mind that you should be doing what is best for your end customer, not just for you. The best payout might be from Uncle Joe's Dog Toy Shack. But who knows what Uncle Joe is making and whether or not he'll be in business six weeks from now.

Always put the interest of your customer at the top of your list of things to do and the money will start to come in later.

If you have any questions or thoughts to add please let me know in the comments below!

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Recent messages
CarolMeador Premium
Thanks, Craig. I am not on Amazon Associates yet because I got messed up with a scam that had me on there, and membership was canceled by Amazon due to lack of sales. So now I have to wait until I have more traffic to my site before I can reapply. Appreciate knowing it's worth the effort. Carol
craigrut Premium
Best of luck the second time around!
CarolMeador Premium
Thanks, Craig. Since I have WA's training, I'm not flying in the dark this time!
johnlogs Premium
Hi Craigrut,
Thanks for this very useful information on Amazon.
I think you're on your way to your first $million.
Let me know if I can assist you achieve that target .

MaxReliable Premium
Great article.

YanFellow Premium
I think the biggest factor in all this is trust. I don't think you can beat Amazon for security, delivery and returns, etc, although they are not always the cheapest.

i know they have 'peculiar' T&C but didn't know you couldn't say 'See it on Amazon'. Is that a direct quote or are there specific phrases you can't use?
craigrut Premium
Based on their terms of service you can't use the term 'Amazon' anywhere in your links or descriptions. At least that is my understanding from my last read of the operating agreement.
YanFellow Premium
I know you can't use 'Amazon' in a link but surely you must be able to say something like:

xyz is available from Amzon:
xyz link


Otherwise how do people know where they're being sent? :-)

I know they don't like you printing price but in a couple of my reviews I've said 'Amazon usually has the best prices'. Is that ok?

What do you do?
craigrut Premium
The only way you're allowed to list prices directly is to pull them from the Amazon API. They need to always be accurate and they need to show the price from Amazon and the 3rd party vendors that sell the same product.

Most of my links say something like 'Find the best price' or 'Check it out now'.

I know you're not allowed to directly quote Amazon reviews either.

I'll have to dig further on even mentioning Amazon. I swore I saw that in the ToS somewhere, but I don't have time to read it right now. So don't take my word for it :).
YanFellow Premium
Ok, cheers :-)
MichellewS Premium
Thank you for your advice, Great article! I am following you now.