Affiliate Marketing
02 August 2018

How affiliate links are changing product placement and gift guides

Last month marked the fourth annual Amazon Prime Day, and as most would have predicted, it was the biggest yet. Amazon received a colossal 89 million visits to its website on Prime Day, up 10.3% on 2017. Since launching in the UK, Prime Day has become an increasingly established fixture on the retail calendar. Or at least you would think so from the massive number of articles online promoting the best Amazon Prime Day deals. Isn’t it strange that we get almost as many exciting product guides, if not more, about Prime Day deals as we do about Valentine’s Day, Easter or Halloween?

Why all the buzz?

So why were so many publications clamouring to cover Prime Day? Why were so many filling your Twitter feed with Amazon’s latest deals, even though they’re only available for those with Prime memberships?

The reason is Amazon’s affiliate partnership programme. As online advertising revenue has faltered due to the spread of adblockers, and people become ever more unwilling to pay for news, publishers have had to turn to other ways to generate revenue. Amazon’s affiliate partnership programme has helped to fill this void, by offering publications a cut of the sales if they drive traffic to Amazon’s product pages.

The changing economics of online publishing

Amazon is the biggest, but certainly not the only player when it comes to affiliate link programmes. Most big online retailers now have a programme where affiliate links can be quickly generated and added to articles (we recently wrote about whether affiliate programmes could be right for your brand). Amazon is by far the most successful because people see it as a safe and familiar option, and it’s universal enough (Amazon sells pretty much everything) that publications can sign up to just one programme if they want.

Returning to Prime Day, you might have noticed something peculiar about where Prime Day deal articles were being published. While there were hundreds of online articles, there were barely any print Prime Day deal guides. You also won’t have seen any Prime Day guides with publications that sit behind paywalls. The reasoning, as you’ll have realised by now, is the nature of affiliate links. It’s one of the big factors why Prime Day has been able to become so talked about in the UK.

The effect on product and gift guides

Affiliate link programmes have big implications for product placement and gift guide campaigns, even if you’re not Amazon. It means that print and online gift guides are very different pieces of content, put together by different teams with different end goals.

The retailers that you have on board for selling your products also matter. For some online gift guides, the ability to link to an affiliate retailer will put your product to the front of the queue compared to situations where you might only be able to direct to your own web store. At the very least, it’s best to be able to offer options.

Product and gift guides require a bespoke approach to secure product inclusion. A one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work when publications have such different purposes for their gift guides. By understanding affiliate links first, we can ensure that products are given the best possible chance of inclusion in top gift and product guides. Appreciating the changing economics of publishing has never been more important to secure the best results and turn a good product into this year’s must-have.