Gizmodo Starts Using Amazon Affiliate Program


Perhaps I’m a little slow on the update here and they’ve been doing it a while but today I noticed for the first time that Gizmodo have started linking to products in Amazon with their affiliate ID (see screen cap left) – obviously trying out the Amazon Associates Program.

I’d actually wondered why they hadn’t done this previously as it seems such a logical move to make. They are constantly featuring gadgets that are in the Amazon range so it makes sense to add this income stream to their numerous advertising options.

My own experience with affiliate links like these is that they are nowhere near as lucrative as contextual advertising in terms of conversion but when you have a critical mass of visitors to your blog the income derived does add up. The key is to make the links as relevant to the content as possible – ie this is what Gizmodo is doing in only linking to products in Amazon that match with the actual product that they are writing about.

This method does take a little extra work to set up (ie finding the product and adding the link) but it’s been worth the investment of time for me over the last year or so.

Successful Affiliate Marketer Shares Knowledge

I was just surfing through SitePoint forums this afternoon and came across a thread that was well worth a read. It starts with a post by a guy by the name of Jon who posts a screen capture of his Commission Junction affiliate earnings. In the last couple of months he’s earned over $81,000.

Now one needs to take posts about high earnings with a little caution because they are often followed with a ‘buy my e-book’ link. But in this case I think he’s the genuine deal and offers some very good advice to others wanting to follow in his footsteps.

Unfortunately the thread degenerates into a flame war over whether his screenshots are real and it all gets pretty snarky at times – but it’s worth persisting for his advice as he goes. I’ve included a few of his comments below.

Keep in mind that he doesn’t reveal his sites, and I don’t blame him for this, but does reveal at one point that at least some of them have a financial focus. He used to do adult sites but has gone more ‘mainstream’ and has been at this since 1994 (worth remembering – this is a long term game). Here’s a little of what Jon has to say:

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MotionMall Review

If you’re looking for a reasonably simple way to integrate the Amazon affiliate program into your blog you might like to check out MotionMall which is a service that is specifically for this purpose.

MotionMall leads you through a four part process of designing your ad unit selecting the topic of the ads you wish to show, selecting the category of Amazon you want ads to be drawn from, giving some contact information and then getting the code to paste into your blog.

The design of the ads is limited to two ad unit sizes (728 x 90 and 160 x 600) and 13 color themes (each has two options giving you 26 options). The designs will suit some blogs better than others.

The ads that it shows (there is one to the left) use flash to make them more interactive (ie on live ads if you click the arrows at the top and bottom of the product they will scroll to new ones and if you hover over the circles at the top it will give you options to view different categories of products from within Amazon.

Pros of MotionMall

You do not directly pay for these ads, but indirectly it does cost you as 15% of the ads shown have MotionMall’s Amazon affiliate code imbedded into them (the other 85% have your own). 15% is not too bad when you consider that some ad networks take 50% of the income earned from your site.

You don’t have to deal with MotionMall directly apart from generating the code. Payments still come from Amazon. You will need to have an Amazon Affiliate program membership (you can use this with either, Amazon UK or Amazon Canada).

Another thing in it’s favor is that these ads are non contextual and can therefor be used in conjunction with programs like AdSense and YPN. In fact it’s not difficult to set them up as alternative ads for these programs.

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SixApart Launch Affiliate Program

SixApart (the creators of Movable Type and TypePad) have just announced an affiliate program. You can earn 10% per licence if you recommend someone to Movable Type, $3 per trial subscriber for TypePad and 20% of paid subscription (up to $5) for LiveJournal referrals.

Product Placement for Consumer-Oriented Blogs

Today’s post in the b5media 12 Days of Christmas series is another post by Hsien-Hsien Lei. She previously posted about ethics for science and health bloggers but this time she’s showing her diversity of blogging interests by writing about Product Placement on Consumer Blogs.

Hi. I’m Hsien-Hsien Lei and I write not only Genetics and Health but also Play Library. The approaches to these two blogs are dramatically different. For Genetics and Health, I present science/health news and analysis with no specific intention of selling anything (aside from the occasional book). For Play Library, it’s a constant show-and-tell of toys, book and things for children.

Almost all of the affiliate links I use on Play Library are from the Amazon Associates Program. It’s the most straightforward and comprehensive products catalog online. Amazon also makes it incredibly easy to create product links. Initially, I inserted the pre-fab ad buttons and banners into every post. They were ugly, but functional, and I did get the occasional sale.

When Arieanna Foley’s Cooking Gadgets blog went live, though, I knew I had a lot to learn. She was making sales left and right without a single ad button or banner in sight. Learning from Arieanna‚s successful example requires a little more work and these are the steps I now take for Play Library posts featuring products:
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Amazon earnings up 100%

Just logged into my Amazon Affiliate program account (which I reviewed here to check the daily stats and it looks like December is going to be a bumper month with a lot of Christmas shopping going on. While it doesn’t come close to comparing to other income streams earnings on my account are up from around $10 per day to over $60 per day.

It looks like all the deep linking I did within posts (see point 4 here) a couple of months ago is paying off. It’s a time consuming thing but well worth the effort. Earnings are up by just under 100% for the same period last year.

Of course all it needs is for a $2000 camera to be sold and the daily earnings can be up as much as $150.

How are others going with their affiliate programs in the lead up to Christmas?

Amazon Beta Tests Product Previews

Amazon have started beta testing a new feature with their affiliates that is something between Chitika’s eMiniMalls and Vibrant Media’s Intellitxt. It’s called Amazon Product Previews.

The feature allows publishers to add some javascript code to the bottom of their pages that makes any text links to Amazon products that appear on the page open up little windows when readers put their cursor over the link. Here’s what the window looks like. It has a product picture, title, price and an option to ‘buy now’ and add the product to your shopping basket.

The window disappears when you take the cursor away.

During the beta test only 50% of readers to sites testing the feature will see the ads – it’s some kind of controlled test.

To participate in the program you just need to be an Amazon affiliate as far as I can see – log into the associate’s page and you should be invited to join the beta test.

Affiliate links Outranking Official Links on Google

I’ve noticed in the past month a number of times when affiliate links in Google rank higher than official sites. The most prominent of these at present in the ProBlogging community (I get an email about it every day or two) is illustrated by when you do a search for Chitika in Google at present (in fact it’s the same story when you search for ’eminimalls’ and ‘chitika eminimalls’).

Some Chitika affiliate with the id of ‘aglan’ is ranking first for the term so anyone who searches for Chitika hits their site and give this affiliate 10% of their earnings for 12 months not because he or she recommended it but because they have either been lucky or good at SEO.

Picture 1-3

I first noticed this phenomenon about a month ago when a search for ‘chitika’ resulted in my own affiliate link being number 1 – something I was both perplexed and if I’m honest, a little excited by.

This is not an isolated incident. On my digital camera blog I have noticed a similar thing with some of the affiliate programs that I promote where I rank first in Google as an affiliate in front of the official sites. I’ve spoken to a few of the affiliate program owners and to say that they are not happy about this would be an understatement – to not rank 1st for your own site’s title is a frustrating thing.

This is one of the down sides of running an affiliate program. Few people ever link to your site using it’s actual address so Google tends to rank which ever affiliate link that is most powerful as the highest one. Of course the product owner still gets sales but they have to pay the commission to affiliates.

The interesting thing is that once you’re in the top position as an affiliate you can actually have it reinforced by other people using your affiliate link to link up to the official site.

Take for instance a recent post by Robert Scoble who uses the aglan affiliate link to link to Chitika (at the time of writing this it’s still that way). I presume what has happened here is that Robert has looked up ‘Chitika’ on Google and has simply copied and pasted the link that Google serves (complete with affiliate link) into his own link – thus sending the lucky ‘aglan’ quite a few potential 10% commission possibilities (quite ironic considering the nature of Robert’s post). The other thing that Robert’s link does is reinforce the ‘aglan’ link at the number 1 position in Google for that term.

Are Adsense Getting into the Affiliate Marketing Game?

I’ve been pondering the Adsense decision to get into the referral business this morning since hearing the news. There are a number of questions and directions that my mind has taken with it. Bear with me as I think out loud for a few minutes:

Who is left to Refer? – My initial reaction to the announcement was that it’s a nice idea – but who would I refer? It’s probably the blogging circles that I hang around in – but I’m scratching my head to think of too many online publishers who are not already with Adsense. Some of them are inactive of course – but most seem involved already. Over the past few years Adsense has saturated the contextual advertising market brilliantly – to the point where a referral program at this point kind of seems somewhat pointless.

Response to Competition – Is this move more about a response to competition than anything else? YPN is rumored to be coming out of beta in the coming month or two and many believe that they’ll have a referral program of their own. Chitika’s referrer program has caused some real buzz (check out the latest graph for the word chitika at blogpulse) – While Adsense might not recruit too many more publishers at this stage – their competition stands a lot to gain from such programs (as do those who promote them). Is this an attempt at diffusing some of the attention of these new programs?

Sign of Things to Come? – As I pondered this morning and read over the Adsense policies around the referral program I found myself wondering if this might actually be something a little bigger than just a referral program for Adsense. Check out some of the wording in their reference to the referral program (emphases mine):

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