Bloggers Are Panicking Over Changes To Amazon’s Affiliate System
Thursday night, members of Amazon’s associates program got some urgent and unexpected news. Rumors had been swirling for weeks, but a late-afternoon email made it official: on March 1st, the affiliate rates would be changing, shaking up one of the web’s longest-running ways to make a quick buck. “These changes simplify the fee structure,” the message read, explaining the new rate structure. “We want to reward associates that can refer sales across those categories.” For Tracy E. Robey, who runs the beauty blog Fanserviced-b, the impact was more stark: a pay cut. With the affiliate cut for a typical purchase dropping from 8 to 6 percent, she anticipates that her checks from Amazon will go down by as much as 20 percent. For Robey, her blog is still more of a sideline than a job, but as she looks to expand her growing business, she says that drop could have real consequences. “[Amazon‘s affiliate program] has been a really good thing for a long time for lots of people,” Robey says. “I don’t think it’s really hit yet what this means.” Small-scale bloggers like Robey won’t be the only ones hit by the rate changes. Publications like The Wirecutter have built thriving businesses entirely on affiliate payments, which are made by vendors like Amazon whenever a referred customer buys a product. Though a number of companies offer similar programs, Amazon’s affiliate system is the most lucrative, and auto-tagged product links have become a significant part of many online businesses’ revenue. (That includes The Verge, which auto-generates affiliate links in some cases.) Though the relationship can be lucrative, it’s also entirely subject to Amazon’s discretion — and as Robey and others are learning, it can often change with little to no warning. Read more at The Verge.