The Amazon Associates Program - Is it Broken?

Cash Builder

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There are a number of forum threads popping up about people complaining that they are not getting credited for Amazon sales, or that they should be earning a lot more with the amount of traffic they have. Here are a couple of examples from the Engaged forum:

https://engagedforums.com/discussions/Amazoncom_Associates/_/_/am-associhelp/49949.1?dbg=6

https://engagedforums.com/discussions/Amazoncom_Associates/_/_/am-associhelp/51288.1?dbg=6

That first one goes back to 2017 and has over 2000 replies.

Here’s one from r/juststart on Reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/juststart/comments/co332m/has_anyone_else_conversions_taken_a_dive_on/

My experience is fairly similar with my biggest site. Traffic and clicks are increasing every month, but sales seem to be stagnant. My conversion rate seems respectable, sitting at around 4 – 8% each month.

When I compare my stats to my previous sites from 2017 and 2018, I should theoretically be earning around double what I currently am. The two sites were in completely different niches, but going by the traffic and clicks they performed the same.

Obviously the holiday season is just around the corner which would explain a slump in sales, but this has been going on since the summer for me, and much longer for other affiliates.

There could be a number of reasons for this:

Increased use of mobile app: If someone clicks an affiliate link from a mobile browser and the link doesn’t open in the Amazon app, they will likely close the browser and open the app. This means the cookie will be lost and any sales won’t get credited.

Editorial Recommendations: For a number of years now, Amazon has been showing “recommended articles” on some search results, usually from big sites such as Wirecutter. If the user clicks on any of the recommended products, your cookie will be overwritten with theirs.

I currently have a number of different affiliate programs on my site, but Amazon is the main one I’m promoting. Sales from the other programs are steady, unlike Amazon which is up and down every day.

Is anyone else seeing decreased sales with the Associates program? Is it time to jump ship and start using different affiliate programs?
 
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There are a number of forum threads popping up about people complaining that they are not getting credited for Amazon sales, or that they should be earning a lot more with the amount of traffic they have.
Wouldn't this kind of fraud be relatively easy to detect? Just have someone make purchases through your Amazon links, and see if the sales get credited. Since you can see the products that brought in the earnings, it will be quite clear if you got paid or not. Bigger agencies / companies have the budgets and the incentive to test this out, and Amazon knows that.

So I don't buy the scenario that Amazon is skimming the earnings on purpose. It's too big of a risk for their reputation. Remember - they can change the commission structure anytime if they wanted to make some more money. They haven't lowered the commissions to the bottom (yet) because they still need to stay competitive as an affiliate program, too.

Also for clicks, are you looking at Amazon's data or at your Google Analytics event tracking? You can't really make any conclusions based on Amazon's click data unless you know your average clicks per visitor for each site (which you'd still need to get from GA).

Edit: I checked out the thread you linked to and yeah there might be something going on with Amazon's recommendation boxes erasing the cookie. But there's no way to confirm that, and nothing that we can really do about it.

Is it time to jump ship and start using different affiliate programs?
Why don't you test it out? See if your earnings will increase if you replace the Amazon links with other programs? Personally I looked around for other programs, but because I'm promoting physical items, Amazon has been the best so far.
 
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infotech

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I have almost doubled the revenue of items sold but my earnings only went up 10-20% when compared against last year.
 

Ryuzaki

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99% of the people complaining in those threads sell like 5 items a month and don't have enough data to know what they're saying. They're just joining the outrage train.

The thread about "conversions being down" and all that, if you watch for long enough, you'll see they always coincide with Google updates, and those morons are steady blaming Amazon each time.

I followed that forum closely at a time when one of my sites was doing poorly in Google, while I was implementing other work to try to increase earnings to make up for it. After following it for about a year it was very clear that what I'm saying above was the case. Even the guys with 1000's of posts are the newbiest of the newbs. They all end up sharing their sites at some point or another too if you want confirmation.

Don't forget that in March 2017, Amazon US changed their commission structure and rates to be worse for everyone. We all took a hit then. Any comparison to before that should look catastrophic.
 

DD1

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Perhaps I misunderstood the topic -- and you can blame my English on that, but I believe one of the reasons is Amazon Prime. While removing S&H costs has increased the amount of purchases, the average ticket has decreased.

Instead of buying the $xxx products I review and recommend, people go there and buy all sorts of random items - so far in November I sold glue and scissors, diapers, toilet paper, and so on.

After the $x sale, my cookie is gone. Meanwhile the person is still pondering about that $xxx purchase. When it comes time for them to part ways with their coin, surprise, no commission for me because of the previous purchase. No blame there.

IMO the system isn't necessarily broken, it's just changed - which is why it's good to diversify.
 
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I think a big piece of the puzzle that you touched on, and I came across is some kind of post inside the Amazon website that is also cookied and co-opts the cookie from your link. E.G. someone clicks a link, then, while on Amazon, there is a prominent display of related product rating posts and if you open that post and click an item, poof! your cookie is lost.

If someone is reading your rating article, clicks a link, and is presented with a carousel of more ratings articles, are they more likely to convert immediately or continue their investigation.

Improvise. Adapt, Overcome.