Amazon Associates Central Sucks as bad as the Commission

Amazon Associates

John Chow recently wrote why he didn't utilize Amazon for affiliate marketing, the primary reason being the commissions are quite low. I'm about to join John for a different reason.

Amazon makes it nearly impossible to use their Associates package. It's absolutely insane every time I go in there for a link, I can't get it. Here's an example. I recently purchased Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing our True Nature (by Mark Earl) after reading about it on Hugh MacLeod's blog – gapingvoid.

  1. I login to Associates Central.
  2. I go to Build Links.
  3. I select Product Links since I know the name of the product already.
  4. I enter Herd with the product category as Books.
  5. I get back 10 results. Of the 10, Mark's book is the only one actually called “Herd” but it is number 3 on the list. Number 1 is The Elephant's Secret Sense. Thanks Amazon!
  6. Now I have to click “Get HTML” which brings me to a terrible page to make my link:
    Amazon Build Links
  7. If I select a different Affiliates-ID now, the page wipes out all my selections and I have to start all over again. Arrgh.
  8. I copy and paste the code into WordPress and post it.
  9. The image doesn't show up. I figure out that Amazon is not including a relative path to the image via their domain. They email me back and tell me that's because I should be hosting the image on my server. Are you kidding me? Isn't Amazon the home of S3?

Update: If you're still struggling with building your links, I'd highly recommend using Amazon Associate's SiteStripe!

Some Product Improvement tips for Amazon:

  1. Put a “Get Links” form of some sort on the Login Landing page.
  2. Let me build my favorite template and save it in my account (I only use 1 layout).
  3. When I do a search for the item, respond with the template HTML that I designated in step 2)
  4. Don't say it's the HTML unless it really is the HTML. The HTML you provide does not contain the right URI to the image!
  5. Please take the image tracking pixels out of your simple text links. Geesh. It hoses up my layout. Take a look below where I have an Amazon link to “Ajax”. Notice the gap after it?

This would take my 20 minutes to find the darn code and take it down to under a minute. In all honesty, I don't think the design of this affiliate service has changed since its inception. The link builder even still does post backs (Amazon – look up Ajax in your book selection). It was terrible on day 1 and it's terrible now. So… not only is the commission low, the interface sucks.

PS: A link to Herd is now included on my Reading Page. I'm looking forward to this one!


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    • 2

      Hi Nathania!

      That’s one of the nicest plugins I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I use the plain editor since I add a lot of scripts and multimedia in my posts and that plugin isn’t compatible. It’s been beta for many months now – I hope he can get it working with whatever editor is present!

      As well, any plugin authors should definitely take a look – that’s one heck of a plugin!

      As well, Amazon should contact manalang and hire him to remake their Associates page!!! 🙂


      • 3

        It would be very easy for you to use this plugin, even on a default WP install. I too use the plain editor, but by default WP also has the rich text editor installed. Just use the rich text editor by default, and toggle the tab for code view to do whatever work you want. Then toggle back to rich text view to drop and drag the amazon items into your post. It’s just an extra click, and then you can keep using the editor you prefer for the bulk of your work!

  2. 5

    Their stock is up about 70% YTD. They must be doing something right!

    I try to avoid those product links in favor of deep linking or linking to a thumbnail like you are doing on your reading page.

    • 6

      I was pretty rough on them, wasn’t I? I do have a lot of respect for Amazon, Robert. They’ve transformed the retail and distribution industries. I’m just really perplexed that a company so advanced would pay such little attention to garnering more web space.

      If they could advance their APIs as Google has, I truly think they could have double-digit growth in web sales. Some companies are moving in this direction and Amazon could be outpaced if they don’t take the opportunity to invest!


  3. 7

    I tried Amazon a while back… I just keep a small searchbox on the English mainpage of my blog… I don’t have the patience to build my links manually:)

    On the other hand, I’ve seen Roger Johansson from 456BereaStreet be quite successful with Amazon? (he’s a very good CSS designer) 🙂


  4. 8

    I was on the same way with you, Doug.

    A couple months ago, I’ve tried to monetize one of my Blogspots with this Associate and fell into the same trouble. The image didn’t show up! And yes, they’re kidding you. 😈

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      Amazon Associates has the world’s most useless customer service. They do reply within three days but their answers are INANE. They do not make sense. It’s like they don’t even bother reading your concern, they just blather useless, mindless, worthless information. One time they asked me to send them “information they requested” but they didn’t even ask for anything at all.

  8. 13

    I for one, like the income generated from Amazon Associates but I couldn’t agree more about the link building. I get so dang frustrated at how many hoops I have to jump through just to get a product link.

    If you want to use one of their widgets, it’s a breeze. But when you want a link for an individual product, it’s a royal pain.

  9. 14

    You are missing a bigger point why amazon isnt doing well for most people.

    Amazon gives you only a 24 hour window for your referal to buy a product. after which you get nothing.

    80% of people will not buy within 24 hours.

    I am experimenting with some of the best books on amazon and i am getting a lot of click throughs.

    I am also sure many people will actually buy something from them but not within 24 hours.

    That my 6% gone and amazon gets a new customer

    Rememeber, the hardest part for amazon is earning a new paying customer. Once it does that, it will make a lot more through the lifetime of the customer.

    In an ideal world, i would get a commission amount through out the lifetime of the customer i refer.

    Unfortunately, i am just sending amazon free traffic, and making nothing for myself.


    • 15

      Amzagong used to give unlimited window, but as all corporations with growing pains, they’ve become huge ass GREEDY….

  10. 16

    I think Amazon Associates is still the best. Sure some of the tools are a little quirky, but if you are a developer, they really give you all the tools you need to make sales.

  11. 18 Associates website is a JOKE… I'm unable to update my address under payee-info.html page. It's not a problem with my computer or with cookies or with a firewall as Amazon “support” suggested. They told me there is nothing they can do to help me update from a North Carolina address to another state. So, I guess I will be closing my Amazon Associate accounts and all my past work i sgoing to atrash bin and Amazon is not going to get any sleepless nights over losing me as their associate ONLY BECAUSE their website is a joke and their support can't even update my address! Never again will I buy anything from!

  12. 19

    Google Adsense pays my website thousands of US$ while Amazon jusyt pays me $7 – $12 a month. I don't think that is fair, I will be removing amazon links from my site very soon.

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    By the way, i just realised that I've been giving Amazon traffic from my large website for about 6-8 years now and I didn't realise that ID was already canceled – Amazon did not bother remind me that I was shooting with no bullets… they quietly and happily took all the traffic and customers I sent them and di not even kindly let me know I could make some money from it…

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    omg Andrew, didn't you think something was off when you saw no income from Amazon for a few months?

    Anyway, another reason they should consider updating their service is that currently they don't have a built in sub-id tracking (keyword tracking) functionality for those of us doing PPC…


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