amazon-associates-money-imageIf you have ever run a website, you most likely have researched or implemented some level of advertising or have possibly become an affiliate of some sort. It makes sense really, especially if you blog about specific products or topics that could relate to or encourage the sale of a particular item or service.

I am an Amazon Prime member and I have enjoyed shopping with Amazon for years (like thousands of other people) and as such, it was the first place I thought of when considering becoming an affiliate for one of my websites. As an ‘Amazon Associate’, I attempt to forward traffic to them in order to generate sales based on products I would recommend and provide links to. It turns out however, that their affiliate program is not all it’s cracked up to be, and it makes no difference to the type of customer you are nor the history you have with Amazon.

Did you know that as an Amazon affiliate you cannot give buying advice to a close friend or family member and email them a link to purchase that particular product? Nope… if they purchase the item it’s deemed too close of a relationship. So let’s see, I can recommend items to my friends and family, they can then potentially buy $#,### of product over the next year but I would most likely receive no earnings from such revenue for my role in the link sharing and recommendation process. BUT, if a complete stranger visits my site, enters the Amazon page with a unique session ID and makes a purchase of some product, even if I have never recommended it nor have even talked about it, I get a small percent of the earnings. Do you see the missing link here? How on earth does the Amazon Associate program benefit me when I am absolutely doing my part to benefit Amazon by recommending that people buy products that I support from them? If the purchase was made from someone in my household, I can understand not getting earnings credit but anyone outside of that should be allowed, in my opinion. I’m a tech guy and my family and friends often come to me for advice when purchasing tech related products and even toys. I simply don’t see why I cannot receive credit for sales I helped to generate when those customers could have gone elsewhere. In fact, I just may NOT send Amazon product links to my family and friends for future recommendations. I recently spoke to an affiliate representative about my concern and this is what they had to say. The associate was very professional and I still think  has some of the best customer service around.

“Hello <Yupp, my name was here>,

Again, I do apologize for the misunderstanding in regards to why you did not earn Advertising fees on items listed in your account’s Orders Report from <Such in Such Date> to date. I reviewed your Associates account from <Date start Here> to <Date end Here> and did find that < # = 75%> of the items listed were flagged by our system as ineligible to receive referral fees.

Due to the proprietary nature of the way we make these determinations, we can’t share the full list of criteria by which we detect these ineligible orders. Typically referred orders can be flagged because our system recognized the orders were placed by the Associate, or on their behalf. This can also happen if we have determined that the orders resulted from you requesting or encouraging your friends, relatives, or other people you know to purchase products through your Special Links.

The reason behind this is that the Associates Program is an advertising program rather than a discount program <I could care less about a discount program>. Our goal is to have our associates refer new customers to us in return for advertising fees. Associates are not eligible for advertising fees when they place orders themselves, or ask people they know to routinely place orders through their links so they can earn advertising fees.

As you requested, I have passed your comments about our policy to our team’s leadership. We do value feedback such as yours because it’s invaluable to us as we continually work to improve our program.

For more information on this, see the definition of “Qualifying Purchases” in Section 7 of the Associates Program Operating Agreement at:

See also Participation Requirement 29 at:

We understand that some orders you place may unintentionally be tagged to your Associates account as you are updating your sites and checking links. These orders are ineligible for advertising fees and will not show in your earnings report.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?”

What do you think? Is there any real value in participating in Amazon’s Associate program? From what I am seeing the only way it may benefit the website or blog owner is if you have hundreds or thousands of hits per day where your chances of click-throughs increase due to the odds. I’m not impressed. Where is the value in product reviews? Where is the value of product recommendations and sending affiliate links to your friends  family, and neighbors? Isn’t that what most of us do the majority of the time?

Anyone know of another site on the web that offers a better affiliate program for website owners and sells similar products compared to Amazon?