Amazon slashing affiliate commissions in midst of Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis

; Date: April 15, 2020

Tags: Amazon »»»» Amazon Affiliate Program »»»» Affiliate Marketing

Amazon pioneered the whole field of affiliate marketing and to a large extent the success of Amazon is due to the company's affiliate partners sending traffic to Amazon. Yesterday, Amazon sent an e-mail notice to affiliate program members about changes to the operating agreement, the effect of which is to drastically slash affiliate commissions in certain product categories. It is probably time for affiliate program members to shift their affiliate links elsewhere.

I have been an Amazon affiliate program member since 1998 (or thereabouts). At the time of this writing that is over 22 years of my business relationship with Amazon. Over that time I've earned quite a lot of side income from affiliate commissions. I'm not the only one who has done this, since there are zillions of people who have joined the Amazon affiliate program.

The arrangement with Amazon's program is just like every other affiliate program in existence. Namely, we make a link to Amazon that includes our affiliate code, and if a visitor makes a purchase then we get a commission.

This means that Amazon has, for over two decades, encouraged site owners to make links to Amazon's website. As a result we, the website publishers of the world, have sent zillions of customers to Amazon. Those zillions of customers have spent zillions of dollars purchasing products from Amazon.

I apologize for not having exact numbers. But, the size that Amazon has grown to is testament to saying that the numbers are in the zillions.

Amazon used to pay a good commission rate for sending them customers. But the last few years Amazon has been ratcheting back (slowly) the whole affiliate program, it seems. The announcement on April 14 2020 was a drastic reduction in the commission structure.

But before we get to that, let's look at some context:

Overall stock market performance in the first part of 2020

Stock performance for Amazon (AMZN) in the first part of 2020

At a time when the overall stock market is REELING due to the Coronavirus problem, Amazon's stock is exploding.

There is an economic panic underway. Tens of Millions of people in the USA alone are likely to lose their jobs due to the economic response to the lockdown stemming from the Coronavirus problem. The problem is world-wide, meaning there is very likely to be an economic collapse - a full blown Depression on the order of the 1930's - due to this illness, and its economic impact.

That means lots of individuals are probably turning to making money online, and in other ways hoping to rely on Amazon affiliate commissions to build a business.

And it is in this context that Amazon is slashing its commission rates.

Changes to Amazon's commission structure on April 14, 2020

As you can see, Amazon has drastically cut the commission structure on several categories. And, Amazon has taken this move in the midst of a huge crisis during which a bunch of website owners will have looked to Amazon's affiliate program as a much-needed source of income.

This is nutso. Amazon is taking us for granted, thinking that we (the website owners of the world) will continue flocking to their Affiliate program.

But - We, the website publishers of the world, have our own ability to choose which companies to partner with.

There are plenty of other companies with whom to make affiliate marketing relationships.

In other words, the way to teach Amazon a lesson is to change our affiliate links to other partner programs. To make sure that Amazon gets the message, we must do this as quickly as possible.

Despite my 20+ years of history with the Amazon affiliate program, I have been mulling making this switch anyway. It is my belief that Amazon is way too big for its britches, that it is gaining too much power in the market, and that consumers should stop using Amazon anyway. The Amazon marketplace is often full of cheap junk items from China with questionable quality and unreliable customer support. We should all be avoiding such products anyway and be spending our dollars on worthy products of value.

It is time to give Amazon the heave-ho, and head to other sellers and affiliate partnerships.

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.