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Affiliates Forum

Amazon Affiliate Explanation
using your own links is a no no

 3:43 am on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am sure this exact question has come up before but I really would like to know what some other people think about this.

Most Affiliate Programs do not state whether it is legal or illegal to use your own affiliate links.

When not posted then it is assumed and I have been paid on these.

When it is stated then it is clearly against TOS.

SO on to my question or poll:

Why would they care?

This makes no sense what so ever. Amazon states Friends, Family or Relatives...

Ok so this just about sums up the entire free world. Should I really not get paid if I referred a person whom I work with to my site to purchase something?

I have been doing all my Christmas shopping through my affiliate links and I am realizing that the Amazon ones are probably not going to come through now.

I really just don't understand what it would matter if they are getting the sale anyway?

Does anyone have an opinion on this or think I am way off base with this?

I could understand if your using internal coupon codes and such but if you just using a straight link to amazon then purchasing why the heck would they care if it was your own site or not?

From the business side I can understand the guys looking for a quick percentage off the product they are buying. So I guess I can kind of understand that but on the flip side of that many many many affiliate programs actually encourage you to purchase through your own links.

Which makes sense to me. The sale is the goal so giving them the sale is what counts.

Other companies are not clear on this at all. So I am guessing it is assumed to be ok if it is not noted.

I really hope I don't get banned for my actions because I rely had n idea it was against the rules.

As I stated before common sense to me is sale is a sale.

Thanks in advance for all your input.



 5:01 am on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

You won't get banned, neither will you get the commission.

The TOS are quie clear about that, and it's all auto-detected.

They're fairly standard-type TOS; I don't know the origins of such rules, but they usually apply.


 4:03 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Think of it this way. An affiliate making a purchase through their own links is getting a discounted purchase. For some affiliate programs that allow this, it's a benefit to the affiliate not available to the general population. They often allow it because they need all the affiliates they can get and the free advertising and branding that come with affiliates.

Amazon doesn't need to be branded. They have more affiliates than they know what to do with, and they've even started charging fees out of unpaid commissions for those who haven't had a sale in three years. They want their affiliates' web sites to pre-sell customers so when they get to amazon, they're ready to buy. An affiliate (or affiliate's family member) is already convinced to buy. They're just using the affiliate links to get the discount.

Consider the scenario if amazon did allow affiliates to buy through their own links. What's to stop sites from popping up that would advertise something like, "Sign up with us for a small amount of money, we'll get you an affiliate ID with amazon, build links with that affiliate ID to amazon, which you can click on. At the end of each month (or year, etc.), we'll send you the money you saved by buying through your affiliate links." People would flock to that if they knew they'd be getting money back and amazon's affiliate program would no longer be cost effective.


 4:27 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Amazon states Friends, Family or Relatives...
Ok so this just about sums up the entire free world.

Actually, Amazon's affiliate program is targeted more towards sites that get visitors besides just the site owner's friends and family members.

It's no different than in the offline world where some companies offer their salespeople discounts on company products and others don't.

norton j radstock

 5:38 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

My story -a short while ago one of my own purchases appeared on my reports with commission. Naturally I emailed Amazon to let them know and ask for the commission to be reversed.

I thought they might say thanks for pointing it out...but no, I received a somewhat sniffy standard response, pointing out the terms of the affiliate agreement (which I know) including the possibility of termination of the agreement.

For what it is worth I am a long established affiliate and have generated sales of almost 9000 items worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars for Amazon over the last five years.


 7:56 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

In defense of amazon's policy on using your own links:

Besides amazon not needing more affiliates or branding, they also sell... well... just about everything. And they place the bar very low for affiliating (no minimum traffic required, etc.), so I think they're right in thinking that allowing commissions for self would get a lot of people signing up as affiliates just to get discounts on their own purchases.

The one and only reason amazon pays commissions to affiliates is to get people to buy through an affiliate's site if they wouldn't have bought from amazon otherwise. Of course, they realize that a lot of people who purchase through affiliate links would have bought from them anyway, but cutting out the really obvious ones just makes sense.

On the entire free world being made up of one person's friends, families, and relatives - I don't think amazon works out six degrees of separation. Just be reasonable.


Not in defense of amazon's email answering policies:

Norton, I'd be surprised if your email had anything at all to do with the form notice you got from amazon. I'd be surprised if anyone at amazon even read your email. The system finds a purchase made by you on your own site - it deletes the commission and spits out a form email. Probably "untouched by human hands."

Back when I set up an amazon associate account for my first website, you submitted the URL, someone at amazon evidently went and looked at the site (now I wonder?), and you got a nice little acceptance note emailed to you. A few years later when I wanted to put ads on a second site, I sent in the URL and waited to hear if it had been accepted... and waited... and waited... I finally asked on the forum if I still had to wait for approval before I started publishing ads, to the general response of "huh"? I've had ads running on that site for about 6 years now, and never have heard if it's been accepted into the program (I get my commissions from it, though). Sending an email to amazon is usually like throwing it into a black hole, so I don't think there was any reaction to your message intended. [ETA: If their email was actually a reply to your email - with your email shown as the original message - I'd find that very intriguing.]

There's a little trick if you want to avoid accidentally buying through your own link (I'm serious). If you're on your site to, for example, check out some new links, and access amazon.com for that purpose, you pick up a cookie for your account when you go from your site to amazon's. If then, while the cookie's still active, you go directly to amazon.com and buy something, it's tagged with your affiliate ID and will show up as a purchase by you through your own site.

But if you enter amazon.com through someone else's affiliate link, the cookie will be reset to their account (which doesn't happen if you go directly to amazon's own site). Some amazon affiliates (including myself) have bookmarked the site of a non-profit organization they support that has amazon affiliate links. It's just as easy to click on that bookmark and go in through the organization's link as it is to go directly to amazon.com. You don't have to wonder if your cookie's expired, the charity gets a little donation, and there doesn't seem to be anything against it in the TOS. ;)

[edited by: Beagle at 8:01 pm (utc) on Nov. 27, 2007]


 11:14 pm on Nov 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

This policy actually protects affiliates to some degree. Every time you refer a customer and they decide to give themselves a 5% discount by signing up as an affiliate themselves (or if they're already an affiliate, by going back in via their own link), you would lose that commission.


 11:25 am on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

What's to stop sites from popping up that would advertise something like, "Sign up with us for a small amount of money, we'll get you an affiliate ID with amazon, build links with that affiliate ID to amazon, which you can click on. At the end of each month (or year, etc.), we'll send you the money you saved by buying through your affiliate links." People would flock to that if they knew they'd be getting money back and amazon's affiliate program would no longer be cost effective.

Isn't that precisely how cashback sites work?


 12:15 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

First of I wanted to say thank you for the great replies.

I had a lengthy conversation with LinkShare in regards to this same subject and they encourage it to no end I LinkShare is pretty huge. CJ same thing.

Although these are these are not the vendors I have yet to find an affiliate that frowns upon this in either of those programs. Also check CC/Performics as well.

I completely understand where you guys are coming for but I know a company who's arrogance is costing them quite a few bucks right now to.

But my point is that a sale is a sale and the fact they are not willing to pay out on an affiliate pushing a site to friends or family just makes no sense.

I understand the guy who uses a promo code + affil link + free shipping code.

That I can understand but let's just say my name was Smith.

Do they ban all commission based on my last name because we could possibly be related?

I know this not the case but seriously how far do they go under the mask of "friends or family"

I am assuming my account will be zero'd out. Not much in there now from my own purchases as it is but I really think it is unfair to not pay me. I could have just as easily purchased some place else.

(Which from now on I will)

[edited by: eljefe3 at 2:22 pm (utc) on Nov. 28, 2007]


 4:18 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

"But my point is that a sale is a sale and the fact they are not willing to pay out on an affiliate pushing a site to friends or family just makes no sense."

The difference between a sale and a sale is up to 10%, and often higher; Amazon is the biggest, by far, they do have fairly competitive prices, and they can well afford to make their own rules.It makes sense to them.

Ultimately, you choose to conform or not; you have that choice. If you can get a better deal elsewhere, then go for. Personally, I dumped CJ and most other affiliate systems for unnecessary rules, late or no payments, and poor ROI.

Amazon has treated me well for years - especially at Christmas - and I'm happy to play by their rules. Your mileage, as they say, may vary :)


 4:47 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Actually, for a long time, CJ *DID* forbid people from using their own aff links (even if the individual advertisers welcomed it) and have banned people for doing it, even if they only did it once. They have since backed off and allow the individual advertisers to set their own policy.

But has been mentioned before, Amazon is huge- few, if any, of the advertisers in CJ or LinkShare or other networks even come close. One of the main purposes of having an affiliate program is to build your brand- Amazon certainly doesn't need that!

Perhaps a sale is a sale, but profit is profit as well. Chances are that if you use your own link to buy something at Amazon, you were going to buy it there anyway.


 4:55 pm on Nov 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you want to get better discounts at Amazon, consider getting an Amazon charge card. Then you get free shipping on many items, no sales tax, credit card rebates, no mileage costs associated with in person shopping and rock bottom prices. I do most of my shopping at online at Amazon.


 8:53 pm on Dec 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Have you considered a making an arrangement with another affiliate? You buy stuff from his links and he buys from yours?



 9:22 pm on Dec 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've been an Amazon Associate for six years and I've got enough experience with the workings of the friends and family rule to say that there are some faulty assumptions being made here. It's not as restrictive as you think!

In practice, you will not get credit for orders made on your computer and shipped to your address. So if your spouse or children order through your links, you will not get a commission on those sales.


If you have a child away at college, who orders on their college computer, uses their own account and credit card, and has the order delivered at college: you will get a commission.

If a friend living next door or across the country orders: you will get a commission.

If your mother or brother or uncle, provided that they don't live with you, makes an order: you will get a commission.

Over the years, I've made far more from Amazon in commissions, compared to lower-converting sites such as Barnes and Noble, than I've lost by not getting an affiliate "discount." If you leave Amazon over this issue, you may only be hurting yourself. I guess you have to do the math.


 11:17 pm on Dec 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I appreciate all the replies to this and I will just be pushing as many sites as I can.

I will not use my own links at amazon but instead at the places where I know it is not frowned upon.

I want to make it clear that I am not looking for the "discount" here. I simply setup a site that ties into my sons 529 account and plan to build it for college.

So I am really just dumping the money into his savings.

But I guess Amazon would rather get a 0.00 sale then a sale minus a 4-8% deduction.

If they were the stock market they would be the MM so we must all abide by their rules so this is understood.

If it is ok I would like to post my affiliate site link here to anyone who is interested in usin the links to help support a good cause. But I will not do so without explicit permission.

So please let me know if here or another section is a good spot.


 11:35 pm on Dec 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

We'd all like to drop our links ... but you'll find that like Amazon, there are TOS to consider. Best not.

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