Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 27
  1. #1
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Amazon - Commission Deducted For Tagging Free Search Results
    I am a U.S. affiliate and am very aware that Amazon doesn't pay UK and Canada affiliates commission for search engine tagged links. But that policy has never been used in the US to my knowledge. Besides, we get a lot of traffic to our landing pages, millions of impressions. Amazon has removed all our December commissions for tagging search results. Worst of all, I don't seem to get anyone in their team to get back to me and explain why everything was removed. Spent a lot of money pushing our campaigns in December and now Amazon is not paying. Any suggestions, thoughts?

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 3rd, 2006
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    536
    What do you mean by "tagging free search results"? Is it something that would fall under this clause of the Operating Agreement?
    In addition, we will not pay referral fees for any purchases made by customers referred to us through Special Links generated or displayed in response to general Internet search queries or keywords.
    That verbiage has been in there since last summer at least.
    --

  3. #3
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by Rehan
    What do you mean by "tagging free search results"? Is it something that would fall under this clause of the Operating Agreement?
    That verbiage has been in there since last summer at least.
    I have seen that verbiage but Amazon has never clearly stated that they don't pay for free search results. If you remember, they called it out to UK and CA affiliates. Even if Amazon decides not to pay for free search results, that's probably only a small part of our commission for December. Holding the whole amount can't be justified by that clause.

    I have read the agreement multiple times and that section the only thing Amazon can use to not pay for SEO links. But have they really called it out ever? Have they said anytime they would never pay for it? I know when they announced it in the UK, many US affiliates talked about how that practice would start here soon. By your comment, technically they could always deny affiliate payments for free search results.

    I am just curious. So if your link for some reason shows up in search engines, you don't get paid? How come they announce it for the UK and not in the US?

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 3rd, 2006
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    536
    Quote Originally Posted by cyrus100
    I have seen that verbiage but Amazon has never clearly stated that they don't pay for free search results. If you remember, they called it out to UK and CA affiliates.

    ...

    I am just curious. So if your link for some reason shows up in search engines, you don't get paid? How come they announce it for the UK and not in the US?
    There's nothing explicit about it in the CA agreement either...it's pretty much the same as the US version in that regard. Just because they didn't enforce it earlier in the US (at least not for your account) doesn't mean they're never allowed to enforce it.

    The UK program is run by a different team and their agreement is significantly different, so how they run the program is different as well. As far as I know, neither paid nor organic search links were prohibited in the UK program until this month.

    Even if Amazon decides not to pay for free search results, that's probably only a small part of our commission for December. Holding the whole amount can't be justified by that clause.
    The US agreement also says:
    If we determine, in our sole discretion, that you have engaged in any of the foregoing activities or, as the case may be, refused promptly to comply with a request from us to exclude Proprietary Terms from any keyword as mentioned above, we may (without limiting any other rights or remedies available to us) withhold any referral fees otherwise payable to you under this Agreement and/or terminate this Agreement.
    But it's unclear what that applies to.

    If there's enough money involved, you may want to hire a lawyer to help you sort it out.
    --

  5. #5
    I like traffic lights
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Southern hemisphere - away from Fukushima
    Posts
    2,936
    I'm still trying to get my head around exactly what you mean by "search engine tagged links".

  6. #6
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Well. That's the reason they have on my account . Let's say I made $20,000 in December. They put a -$20,000 in the payment section and the reason is: deduction for tagging free search results.

    The disappointing part is, I have wrote them 5 times already and nobody responds. I have not been rude or pushy. Just asked for an explanation.

    As far as the policy, I have never ever heard of it being enforced. I don't even know how my link could have gotten ranked on Google. But to write off 5 figures in commission with no explanation no nothing (just a vague line in their agreement) is just sad. We drive millions of impressions to our blog network. Writing off all that commission is ... well it is what it is

  7. #7
    I like traffic lights
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Southern hemisphere - away from Fukushima
    Posts
    2,936
    So you're saying your links to amazon appeared in Google's search results, so people were being sent to Amazon direct from Google with your aff code imbedded?

    How the hell is that YOUR fault?

  8. #8
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Mansfield, TX
    Posts
    16,232
    Were ALL of your sales from Google search results with your code, or did some come from your site(s), too?
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  9. #9
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    That's the thing. I search for my URL on Google and nothing shows up. But that's what Amazon has claimed and deducted ALL our sales. Yes. We had a 5 figure commission check but it's normal for us as we get millions of impressions from our blog network. We also enabled Amazon banners throughout our network using our Adserver as Amazon ads convert very well. The funny thing is, Amazon doesn't even get back to me (after 4 tries and 3 weeks of waiting). I like Amazon and their program but I just don't know how to go forward with this.

    Is it possible that our link showed up in the SERPs? it's possible but that's what happens when you link to Amazon from high PR websites in our blog. I have seen it happen but I doubt it was responsible for more than 10% of our commissions, if any.

    This is sad really. So essentially, if you are a big player with Amazon, you better watch out. Your commission might get slashed by half or more or in our case, everything is gone.

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    5,303
    Quote Originally Posted by cyrus100
    That's the thing. I search for my URL on Google and nothing shows up. But that's what Amazon has claimed and deducted ALL our sales.
    Don't they mean that their link is showing up with your affiliate ID in the SERPS?
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  11. #11
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by Snib
    Don't they mean that their link is showing up with your affiliate ID in the SERPS?
    Right. So if I search for my affiliate tag, it should show up on Google but it doesn't. Other than that, I am not sure how to figure out if my links are showing up on Google. I am not sure if this is just something they are using to avoid payment or it's a mistake or what. But other than searching Google, I have no other way to figure this out. When I saw that my payment was sent, I searched Google for hours and couldn't find my link (used my tag, product names, ...). Again, they just don't respond to my emails. I don't know what's going on.

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    5,303
    Are you using inurl: to search for your tag? A normal search wouldn't bring it up. If it's not showing up for inurl: I'd probably call them and get to the bottom of this.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  13. #13
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by Snib
    Are you using inurl: to search for your tag? A normal search wouldn't bring it up. If it's not showing up for inurl: I'd probably call them and get to the bottom of this.

    - Scott
    I should have been more clear. If you use InURL command my tag does come up. But any Amazon affiliate who has a landing page with links will see their tag one way or another. If you have a decent site, it's almost impossible not to see your tag with that command. But I looked at the items we sold and tried to replicate a situation where people can search for lets say a laptop and get to my tag. I tested 10 pages of results for items i have sold and my URL tag is not there. If you are not showing up in the first 3 pages of Google, how many people can really buy from your tagged link directly?

    I honestly don't know how to deal with this. Amazon has never specifically said that free search results are taboo and we have never set out to optimize our links to show up high in the engines. Amazon is not even our main source of income for us anyway.

    As far as calling them, in the past 3 weeks, I only got one e-mail from them saying that they'd need 2 business days to sort it out. All other e-mails have been ignored. I even followed up with them a week after to no avail.

    It's tough to figure out what to do. There is no way for us to find out how many of our sales are generated that way (but it shouldn't be much). I can tell you we certainly made more than 0 sales from our millions of impressions per month and over 200 blogs in our network.

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    5,303
    I think this is the reason for your situation. It's always best to prevent links like this from being indexed. I block spiders from following my affiliate links through a click tracking script that checks the HTTP_USER_AGENT and prevents any known spiders from actually seeing the affiliate link. This way there is no chance they'll index these links. Amazon probably saw that you aren't taking this precaution and rather than go sale by sale simply revoked all your income.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  15. #15
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by Snib
    I think this is the reason for your situation. It's always best to prevent links like this from being indexed. I block spiders from following my affiliate links through a click tracking script that checks the HTTP_USER_AGENT and prevents any known spiders from actually seeing the affiliate link. This way there is no chance they'll index these links. Amazon probably saw that you aren't taking this precaution and rather than go sale by sale simply revoked all your income.

    - Scott
    That could be. Nevertheless, that doesn't make it right. Just because we are not using such script, doesn't mean all the work with did in a month should be for nothing. Correct me if I am wrong but it's not Amazon's policy for affiliates to hide their links, is it?

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 9th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,659
    Since you are at a fairly high revenue level, you need to start hiding all of your affiliate links. There are numerous reasons for doing this, including:

    1) Your Amazon issue
    2) Preventing crappy programs such as Norton Internet Security from yanking all affiliate links out of your pages as they are displayed in the browser.
    3) Reducing the chance of spiders classifying your sites as spammy affiliate sites. (even if they aren't, why take the chance?)
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 9th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,659
    Quote Originally Posted by cyrus100
    Correct me if I am wrong but it's not Amazon's policy for affiliates to hide their links, is it?
    It is Amazon's policy that they don't pay commissions on revenue generated from raw amazon links that are indexed with an affiliate tag. They made an announcement concerning this awhile back. How they enforce it is not clear. It is your responsibility to prevent the links from being indexed.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  18. #18
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff
    It is Amazon's policy that they don't pay commissions on revenue generated from raw amazon links that are indexed with an affiliate tag. They made an announcement concerning this awhile back. How they enforce it is not clear. It is your responsibility to prevent the links from being indexed.
    Thanks for the suggestion. We'll definitely have to look into masking all our links. I thought no following links would be enough but apparently not. Also, I never got the message that amazon wouldn't pay "free search results" with tags. I remember the paid search announcement but I just don't believe Amazon announced such a policy for free search results other than in the UK and CA. In fact, I read an article on a top SEO site a while back in which experts where arguing when such a policy would come to the US associates program. I think they just slipped it right through without announcing it. I could be wrong.

    All your points are well made. However, that doesn't justify Amazon writing off $50K in commissions. I am sure Amazon has a way to distinguish between tagged sales and the ones generated from our sites. To make things worse, they have stopped responding to us, and I am not sure if there is anything we can do. I hope this is just a misunderstanding. We delivered millions of dollars in revenue to Amazon over the past couple of years. But I never ever had to actually call these guys up. Now I can't even find the phone # for Amazon Associates Program.

    As far as masking affiliate links the way you mentioned, do you have a script or software in mind? We use Wordpress and Joomla for our blog network so there should be a plugin that makes it happen.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 9th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,659
    Amazon Associates Direct Line
    1-800-372-8066

    I looked through my e-mails, but couldn't find the announcement concerning tagged natural search links. It seemed to me that it was a fairly recent announcement. Probably right before the Christmas. BTW, I am a member of the Amazon UK affiliate program as well, so....

    I wrote my own affiliate link cloaking. Its highly specialized to my needs and probably isn't the best solution for everyone. I am personally opposed to using 3rd party redirects that route through another website. Its best to keep everything on one site, IHMO. Especially if the redirect masks the true referrer. This will get you in trouble with ebay's affiliate network.
    Last edited by isellstuff; February 11th, 2010 at 12:42 PM. Reason: mention that I am a UK affiliate as well.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  20. #20
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff
    Amazon Associates Direct Line
    1-800-372-8066

    I looked through my e-mails, but couldn't find the announcement concerning tagged natural search links. It seemed to me that it was a fairly recent announcement. Probably right before the Christmas. BTW, I am a member of the Amazon UK affiliate program as well, so....

    I wrote my own affiliate link cloaking. Its highly specialized to my needs and probably isn't the best solution for everyone. I am personally opposed to using 3rd party redirects that route through another website. Its best to keep everything on one site, IHMO. Especially if the redirect masks the true referrer. This will get you in trouble with ebay's affiliate network.
    We are also affiliates of UK and Ca. I have gone through every email and announcements. Amazon has never talked about not paying for free search results like they announced it for the UK program. Their April 2009 email talks about paid search sales that are generated through tagged links but not free. No matter, there is something vague in the agreement. But Amazon never talks about writing of all your commission if part of your sales are from free search results.

    The number you provided, is that for Amazon customer service or for associates team?

    You know what's disturbing to me is not the fact that they have written off all the sales but the fact that in 3 weeks, no one has gotten back to us. I mean is that really the norm? CJ and LinkShare partners get back to us in 3 to 5 days at most. Not 3 weeks.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 9th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,659
    Quote Originally Posted by cyrus100
    The number you provided, is that for Amazon customer service or for associates team?
    This number is for Associate Program Support
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  22. #22
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff
    This number is for Associate Program Support
    OK. Thank you very much. I hope this gets resolved soon. We have been very polite with Amazon associates program, as anyone should be. But I got a feeling they are stalling. I'll keep you guys updated if we make any progress (am not very positive about it). In the meantime, any other suggestion you have is very much appreciated.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    November 9th, 2005
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    1,659
    Quote Originally Posted by cyrus100
    In the meantime, any other suggestion you have is very much appreciated.
    Amazon is a large corporation with many levels of bureaucracy. You will need to figure out a way to break through this bureacracy. Take a look at your network of friends and their friends. Maybe you already have a contact within Amazon and don't even know it.

    BTW, The affiliate support number I gave you is a call center in a different state, e.g. not in Seattle. You should approach this as if you were reporting a bug. (because that is what you hope this is, a ban based on a bug in their tracking such as your membership in Amazon UK affecting your Amazon US account ) Did you use the same e-mail address for all of your Amazon accounts?

    I know it is humbling, but never forget how small of a revenue generator you are for Amazon. Amazon did $24.51 billion in sales in 2009. Putting that in perspective, I think if you sold $100 million in merchandise for Amazon in 2009, you would have contributed to .41% of their business!
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  24. #24
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff
    Amazon is a large corporation with many levels of bureaucracy. You will need to figure out a way to break through this bureacracy. Take a look at your network of friends and their friends. Maybe you already have a contact within Amazon and don't even know it.

    BTW, The affiliate support number I gave you is a call center in a different state, e.g. not in Seattle. You should approach this as if you were reporting a bug. (because that is what you hope this is, a ban based on a bug in their tracking such as your membership in Amazon UK affecting your Amazon US account ) Did you use the same e-mail address for all of your Amazon accounts?

    I know it is humbling, but never forget how small of a revenue generator you are for Amazon. Amazon did $24.51 billion in sales in 2009. Putting that in perspective, I think if you sold $100 million in merchandise for Amazon in 2009, you would have contributed to .41% of their business!
    Oh yes. I know we are not a major player for Amazon. Sorry if I sounded as if we did I did use the same e-mail address for all accounts (perhaps another mistake?). But our experience with Amazon as an affiliate and a customer has been nothing but perfect. The phone number certainly helps. It's very frustrating not having any way to get access to the team other than e-mail.

    I am surprised that no-one else seems to have had this issue (at least I can't find it on Google). Perhaps this is something they just started enforcing as others suggested here? Anyways, I am sure things will work out. I'll keep you all posted. Thanks so much for all the suggestions.

  25. #25
    Newbie
    Join Date
    February 9th, 2010
    Posts
    17
    Latest Update on Amazon Situation
    So here is the latest update on this. Apparently, one of our links was indexed and ranked high by Google. Amazon seems to think that it's our fault that Google ranked the link high and has decided to write off all our commissions. They still don't have a phone and don't respond to e-mails. I got this information through their help-line, but they only provide limited help.

    It's truly disappointing for Amazon to write off everything even though we sold lots of other items and helped them get more business. Another slap in the face of an affiliate company that sticks by the rules and doesn't go around them. Yes. We did not hide our affiliate links or in some cases no-followed- them. But to claim that we violated their terms by getting ranked on Google by accident is just something I don't know how to describe.

    I am very disappointed with Amazon Associates Team. After a month, they never had the courtesy of writing a rejection note to us. I know they have millions of other affiliates on board. But if they take your payment away and don't even bother to respond to e-mails, then that's very disappointing.

+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Google showing their own product search in 'natural search' results?
    By simcat in forum Search Engine Optimization
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: May 15th, 2007, 04:25 PM
  2. Strange Results from Amazon
    By bandi in forum Cusimano.com Scripts
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: November 1st, 2005, 02:19 PM
  3. No results found. Click here for amazon.com
    By richardeward in forum Cusimano.com Scripts
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: April 18th, 2005, 02:20 PM
  4. No results found. Click here for amazon.com
    By hardwork in forum Cusimano.com Scripts
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: November 4th, 2003, 02:03 PM
  5. How to read Amazon tracking results?
    By tbrown in forum Cusimano.com Scripts
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: March 10th, 2003, 09:10 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •