Are you violating Amazon Associates Program Operating Agreement terms?
Knowing Amazon affiliate program rules will make you a better marketer, increase your sales, and improve your website.
It is important to learn the Amazon affiliate program rules for your website because they strictly enforce the terms of their operating agreement. They have sound reasons for this that benefit you as well as them.
The Amazon Associates affiliate program was established in 1996 and is one of the largest, most trusted, and most successful affiliate networks online. Maintaining a good professional relationship with Amazon is necessary for your online success as an affiliate marketer with their program.
As a member of their program, you are legally bound to follow the terms of their operating agreement. Take the time to read the fine print. (Clickable links to the operating agreement and selected related documents linked therein are under references at the bottom of this post.) References are for residents of the United States.
Neglecting to read and follow the terms of Amazon’s operating agreement can cause your associates account to be closed or you could be banned from the program.
If your account is closed, you can make corrections and reapply, but you will need to update your Amazon links so it is mightily inconvenient and something to avoid if you can.
As for banishment, this is done in extreme circumstances. Amazon does not want to ban you or your website. They want you to succeed. If it does happen, you can appeal their decision.
Amazon Associates Customer Service
I have spoken directly with customer service many times and I have to tell you their staff is filled with the utmost professional and helpful people I have ever spoken with about products and services.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call them. You will be pleasantly surprised at their level of knowledge and desire to help you succeed.
You can ask them to look at your website and they will while you are on the phone together. Then they will discuss any concerns about your content with you and offer advice on how to make improvements to be in compliance and a better marketer. This benefits you and Amazon.
Call Amazon.com Associate Support:
US and Canada
Sunday – Saturday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST
1-206-266-2992 (Please ask to be transferred to the Amazon.com Associates Program; long distance charges will apply)
Sunday – Saturday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST
Amazon Affiliate Program Rules for Your Website
From Section 5 of the Trademark Guidelines:
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
Use of Logos (“Amazon Mark”)
To be on the safe side, make use of Amazon’s banners. That way there is no question they belong to Amazon. You should not copy or download their logos and put them on your website. At least, do not without their approval.
From the Trademark Guidelines:
1. YOU ARE ALLOWED TO USE THE AMAZON MARKS ONLY BY DISPLAY ON YOUR SITE WITH THE PURPOSE OF ADVERTISING AVAILABILITY OF PRODUCTS ON ONE OF OUR SITES, WITH A CORRESPONDING LINK TO THAT SITE.
I violated Amazon Affiliate program rules in a post by using the Amazon logo on an image. This is the email I received and my account was promptly closed:
“Thank you for your interest in the Amazon Associates Program.
We have completed our review of your application to the Amazon Associates Program, which included a visit to the website where you planned to create links to our store.
We found you listed the URL for your web site as: http://blogliving.net/. Your web site includes the unapproved use of Amazon.com trademarked words, images, or reviews.
We do not allow the use of URLs, trademarks, logos, etc. that include words that are trademarked by Amazon.com LLC. This includes variations or misspellings of any trademarked words. We are therefore unable to approve your application. Accordingly, we have closed the account under which you had been temporarily approved and that approval has now ended.
If your website has been further developed and now contains appropriate content, you are welcome to submit another application by using the following URL:
Please review our Operating Agreement for further details:
We hope to see you again.”
I made the correction and reapplied.
Amazon Affiliate Program Rules for Your Website
Offline Marketing (Off of Your Website)
Amazon product images and links are for use on your website only. They are not allowed to be posted offline. This policy means that you cannot distribute Amazon Associate images and links via email, RSS, on third party websites such as Facebook (unless it is a public fan page included in your associates account), nor can you advertise Amazon products through paid advertising such as Google Adwords. These are some examples, for more read below:
From Associates Program Trademark Guidelines:
3. You cannot use or display any Amazon Mark for any purpose or in any manner not specifically authorized under the Program Documents. For example, you cannot make any use or display (i) that implies sponsorship or endorsement by us; (ii) to disparage us, our products, or our services; (iii) that may, as determined by us, diminish or otherwise damage our goodwill in any Amazon Mark; or (iv) in any offline materials.
From Associates Program Participation Requirements:
5. You will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities on behalf of us or our affiliates, or in connection with the Amazon Site or the Associates Program, that are not expressly permitted under the Associates Operating Agreement.
Pretty Links and Cloaking
You can use Pretty Links (Pretty Links plugin) on your website, but not for Amazon affiliate links. Cloaked links are not allowed because they can mislead readers to think the links are to your website and not to Amazon. Associates do get terminated for violating this rule. Only use links the way they are specified in the operating agreement.
From Section 8 of the Associates Program Policies:
(v) You will not cloak, hide, spoof, or otherwise obscure the URL of your Site containing Special Links (including by use of Redirecting Links) or the user agent of the application in which Content is displayed or used such that we cannot reasonably determine the site or application from which a customer clicks through such Special Link to the Amazon Site.
(w) You will not use a link shortening service in a manner that makes it unclear that you are linking to an Amazon Site.
Time to Make a Sale
When you first sign up as an affiliate of the Amazon Associates program, you have 180 days to make a sale, if no sale is made after 90 days, you will receive an email as a reminder. If no sale is made in 180 days, the account will be canceled, but you can just reapply and update your links. They are not banning you.
After your first sale, Amazon Associates Customer Service will review the sale and your website for approval. To be clear, you cannot treat Amazon like MLM. Friends and family cannot make purchases on your behalf. If they do, you will not be compensated and your account may be closed. Also, they will review your website content and if you are not in compliance with their operating agreement, your account will be closed. You will receive your commission, but it will likely be months later.
The folks in Amazon Associates Customer Service are research experts. They will be able to determine if a purchase was made by your friends and relatives. They also research your content to make sure it is not plagiarized by you from another website. So make sure your content is original and any quotes you use are clearly marked and in block quotes.
States Excluded from the Amazon Associates Program:
I asked customer service about this and they want it understood that this is not a decision made by Amazon. The reason residents of some states cannot participate is because of their respective state’s legislation concerning eCommerce.
Only have one associates account. You can add websites to your account, but Amazon prohibits having more that one account per associate. If more than one account is necessary, their approval is required.
Do not copy and paste product reviews from amazon.com and put them on your website. It is a violation of their operating agreement.
Your Facebook fan page (a public page and not a community page) should only be added to your associates account if you have hundreds of fans, after you have made a sale from your website, and you have been approved. This is what customer service recommends.
Amazon Associates Discussion Boards is a fantastic resource and members of Amazon Associates Customer Service participate in the discussions. Of course, they discuss all things Amazon, but they also cover other website topics including marketing. I must have spent 3 hours in there reading when I found it.
Also, customer service says they are working to improve and update the Amazon Associates Blog. So keep this in mind and check for updates.
To learn how to create a website to promote Amazon products, read How to Make Money with a Website..
For information about other affiliate programs to join, read What Are the Best Affiliate Programs to Make Money?.
Thank you for reading Amazon Affiliate Program Rules for Your Website. Do you have a question or experience to share? Please leave a comment!