Amazon UK Test ‘Self-Optimising Links’ – Beware AdSense publishers

I’ve just noticed that Amazon UK’s Affiliate program is beta testing a new type of ad called ‘New Self-Optimising Links’.

They describe it as:

“Self-Optimising Links feature products chosen automatically based on the content of your site. To create Self-Optimising Links simply modify the template and appearance elements and copy the resulting code on to your site. With Self-Optimising Links, you do not need to chose which product, product line or even keyword that best fits a page. Our algorithm will take care of reviewing your site and selecting relevant product offerings. At present we are offering Self-Optimising Links as a BETA to our Associates.”

While this will be welcomed by heavy affiliate program users it is something to be careful of if you’re an AdSense publisher as using these ‘self-optimising’ links means you’re using a contextual way of serving ads – which from my reading of AdSense breaks their TOS.

Update – speaking of Amazon and contextual ads, David just sent me an email telling me about another service that will serve Amazon affiliate ads to your blog – contextually. It’s called TicTap Contextual Ads. in short – they scan your page and find Amazon products to match. They put their own code in the fourth ad and you get the others.

As with the Amazon UK beta above keep in mind that TicTap is contextual and in it’s default mode it cannot be used with AdSense (or YPN from what I can work out). There is a way of making it non contextual according to TicTap’s FAQ page by switching off the contextual nature of the ads (similar to what Chitika did before changing their default to non contextual) – but you might want to double check with AdSense.

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  1. Thilak says:

    Nope, I won’t sacrifice AdSense for Amazon

  2. David Krug says:

    It’s actually doesn’t scan your content you have to enter the keywords in either a default set for your blog, or you can optimize per post.

    Just a quick fyi.

  3. Brad says:

    Just from the few things I’ve read about it, I’m in no hurry to give up my adsense ads! As of now, google is my bread and butter! I only get a few hits a week on my Amazon ads, and frankly, don’t make a cent.

    Maybe if Amazon would have come up with this idea a few years ago I might have been interested. But as of now, no thanks!


  4. David Krug says:

    You definetly don’t have to give up your Google. There is non contextual features available.

  5. Andy Merrett says:

    I guess it comes down to checking with AdSense, because for me “contextual” is a very broad term.

    Suppose I use my own code to scan for keywords in each article I write, selecting my own text links/ads based on this. Effectively, this is contextual, because I’m choosing what to display based on the context.

    Suppose I write my own code to do this for an affiliate program. Technically this is different from the affiliate program itself selecting ads contextually, but the end result is similar.

  6. John Hood says:


    I sent you an e-mail regarding Amazon UK’s SOL a fortnight ago! Perhaps your spam filter was being overzealous! ;-)


  7. Alex Choo says:

    Hi everyone.

    TicTap Contextual Ads is highly configurable. It uses 3 ways to determine what products to show. It uses meta keywords and descriptions, and user-defined keywords.

    If you enable the meta keywords and descriptions features, then TCA would violate Adsense’s TOS. But you can turn them off, so that TCA can coexist with Adsense.

    Most people just use keywords to show relevant Amazon products, and this does not violate Adsense’s TOS.

    By contextual, Google means an algorithm that ‘magically determines’ the context of an entire page. TicTap is a 2 guy show, and we certainly do not have the resources for that. As long as you stick to using keywords, then TCA cannot magically figure out what your page is about, and no one has to give up Adsense.

    We also wrote about Amazon’s Self-Optimising Links and how it violates Adsense’s TOS.

    I hope this explanation helps.

  8. Here’s something that maybe I’m a bit naive about… how can Google make such a blanket statement as saying “you can’t have any other contextual-based advertising on your site.” Does anyone not see this as a monopolistic play and not allowing for market competition?

    I use Adsense, but they’re quickly becoming a bit of a dictatorship on page content.

  9. Darren Rowse says:

    Humanaught – you’re right – but it won’t change until something else is offered to publishers that makes them swap and until that happens they’ll continue to be exclusive I guess :-)

  10. Taj Singh says:

    I sent an email to the Adsense team and asked if using the Amazon self-optimising links and adsense on the same page is against adsense TOS.

    Heres the response:

    Thanks for your email.

    According to our program policies, Amazon Self-Optimizing Links may be
    displayed on the same page as Google ads on your site.

    In general, AdSense program policy does not permit Google ads to be
    published on the same page as other contextually-targeted ads. You can
    review this, and all Google AdSense program policies, at .

    For additional questions, I’d encourage you to visit the AdSense Help
    Center (, our complete resource center
    for all AdSense topics. Alternatively, feel free to post your question on
    the forum just for AdSense publishers: the AdSense Help Group


    The Google AdSense Team


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