Information last week reported that Walmart and Amazon have suspended direct e-commerce (i.e. affiliate marketing) deals with digital media companies including BuzzFeed, Vox and Vice.
However, Amazon is suspending only direct programs for publishers due to its nervousness due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to two executive publishers and two source at affiliate sellers. With many products out of stock and no additional multiples of non-essential products currently shipping, Amazon is temporarily halting e-commerce deals with other publishers.
By contrast, excluding third-party vendors is a real policy change, not just a response to the health crisis. According to an affiliate network executive who said he was warned of the change, Amazon has been planning to remove third-party networks since before February.
Rethink Amazon Affiliate Strategies
The policy change for Amazon affiliates has major implications for e-commerce advertising technology. In recent years, affiliate sellers like VigLink have added publishers to their listings by creating products that list dynamic links to Amazon and other e-commerce sites, based on factors including commission rates, consumer history, and conversion potential.
Consumers are generally more likely to convert on Amazon, and therefore get the most traffic. But publishers had the flexibility to funnel traffic to other sellers for higher commissions or as part of larger marketing deals. (Barnes & Noble, for example, might make a deal with BuzzFeed, for example, to create stories about the best games and books to order during quarantine — and those books will obviously be associated with B&N.)
Now, digital media companies will need thoughtful Amazon and non-Amazon strategies, and they won’t be able to dynamically insert links to drive audience value, one publisher monetization executive said. Many publishers will commit to focusing 100% on Amazon.
Mayuresh Kshetramade, CEO of CJ Affiliate, said Amazon has created an opportunity by removing third-party sellers from its affiliate program.
“We are actively working with our publishers who are looking for ways to diversify their affiliate commerce outside of Amazon and our advertisers who see this as an opportunity to increase their market share,” he said.