Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Associates Program can F*#k right off…

For many people who make money online around the world (including South Africa), the Amazon Associates Program makes up a large chunk of their monthly income. 

The Amazon Associates Program is the largest online retailer in the world’s affiliate program.

For many years online entrepreneurs have used the Amazon Associates Program to make money online.

In simple terms, these affiliate marketers referred customers to Amazon. In return, Amazon paid the affiliate marketers a referral commission.

The Amazon Associates Program in South Africa

(If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I’ve written this post on affiliate marketing that will help)

A large percentage of Amazon’s business has been built from the traffic that these affiliate marketers and online entrepreneurs have referred to them.

For Amazon, it’s been a great source of free traffic. Amazon only pays these affiliate marketers if the customers they send buy something from them.

It’s a great business model. Win win for everyone.


So you would think…

…Over the last few years Amazon has slowly but surely been squeezing the amount of commission they pay to their associates.

The email from Amazon that broke the camel’s back

On Tuesday I received an email from Amazon stating that there was an update to their Associates Program’s operating agreement.

They send out these emails fairly regularly and more often than not it’s minor changes that they’ve made…

…This one look no different to the emails they normally send.

Nothing untoward or suspicious in there at all.  It was only when I clicked through to the Amazon website that the bomb was dropped…

Greedy Amazon slash affiliate partners commissions 

The major update to Amazon’s associate program is that they are cutting their affiliate partners commissions to many of their product categories from 21 April 2020.

It’s important to bear in mind that these commissions are paid for customers that someone else is sending to Amazon. They are not paying to acquire these customers.

Below is a summary of the categories as well as the old & new commission structure as well as the percentage that Amazon is cutting them by:

Amazon Product CategoryOld CommissionNew Commission% Decrease
Furniture, Home, Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Pets Products, Pantry8.00%3.00%63.50%
Headphones, Beauty, Musical Instruments, Business & Industrial Supplies6.00%3.00%50.00%
Outdoors, Tools5.50%3.00%45.45%
Baby Products4.50%3.00%33.00%
Health & Personal Care4.50%1.00%77.78%
Amazon Fresh3.00%1.00%66.67%

You can see from the table above some of the categories, like sports and baby products, have been cut by 33%.

Others have been cut by more than 50%.

Categories like groceries, health and personal care as well as the furniture and home improvement are the ones who have taken the biggest hit. They’ve been cut by between 63% and 80%.

I think it’s also important to look at the timing of this announcement and what’s been happening to Amazon as a business over this time…

The world in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic

If you were ever in any doubt that Amazon actually cared about their partners and consumers, the timing of this cut should tell you everything you need to know about Amazon…

…with the world in turmoil due to the Covid-19 outbreak and large parts of the globe in some sort of lockdown, the global economy is in trouble.

Many companies are taking a massive financial hit with employees unable to perform their work functions as they normally would.

For a company like Amazon, however, they are benefiting from a lot more online shopping. So much so that since the outbreak they’ve had to employ thousands of new employees to handle the growth. 

If one looks at the S&P 500, which is an indication of the state of the American economy right now, since the 20th of February to the time of writing this, it is 17% down. (From 3373.23 to 2799.55 today)

The S&P500 chart

If you take a look at the Amazon stock price for the same time frame, it paints a very different picture.

The Amazon stock price is up 11.85% (From $2153.10 to $2409.19 today)

This announcement by Amazon to cut the partners who helped them grow their business to what it is today out of the loop, smacks of nothing more than pure greed.

As independent publishers and content producers who rely on the Amazon Associates program, there’s not much we can do. 

Amazon’s playground, Amazon’s rules.

They are well within their rights to change the rules as and when they feel like changing them. 

The one thing we can do as affiliate marketers is to make the decision to no longer play Amazon’s game…

4 things you can do about Amazons great big “F*#K YOU” to their affiliates…

For many affiliate marketers, the financial impact of Amazon’s decision could be catastrophic to their business. The good news is Amazon is not the only company on the planet that pays an affiliate commission.

Here are four things I would suggest you do in response to Amazon’s announcement this week:

  1. Find alternatives to Amazons affiliate program

Obviously for many affiliate marketers losing 80% of their income is not financially viable. So looking for alternative affiliate programs is the only solution. 

There are lots of other companies and businesses that pay generous affiliate commissions for products that are the same or similar to what Amazon sells.

Join their affiliate programs and send your traffic to them. Amazon is taking your affiliate commission away, not your traffic.

If you are in South Africa, I’ve written this post on the affiliate programs in South Africa available to you. There are also a ton of other companies that you can find on Google or affiliate networks available to you globally.

  1. Remove all the amazon links on your platforms

The second thing I would suggest you do is to remove all Amazon links from your website.  If you have a big website this will take time but in the long run it will be to your benefit.

A simple CTR+F search on your website will make them easier to find. Go through each one and replace them with the affiliate programs you found in step 1

If Amazon no longer wants to pay you a fair commission for helping them build their business, then the only choice we have as content producers and affiliate marketers is to not help them.

  1. Tell other publishers to do the same

One small affiliate marketer in the middle of nowhere is not going to make a difference to Amazon’s bottom line. 

Many of us, however, are connected to other affiliate marketers online and I think it is our responsibility to tell other affiliate marketers to do the same as the first two steps mentioned here.

Feel free to share this article or write your own stating your intention to no longer send traffic or customers Amazon’s way. 

I think it’s important in times like these to support businesses that support us. That is why the next point is important in this process too…

  1. Don’t buy from Amazon in your personal capacity

Finally, the fourth step I would suggest you take is not to buy products from Amazon. Every single product that Amazon sells is available on other websites or other retailers.

I think businesses have a moral and ethical obligation to support the communities they that they operate in… 

Amazon has shown time and time again that they have no interest in supporting communities in which they do business.

I think as consumers it’s important that we take a stand and help build the businesses that keep our society functioning.

Jeff Bezos, you and Amazon can f*#k right off…

Thanks for popping by my website. Don’t miss any of the video tutorials that I upload to my YouTube channel.

If you have any questions about making money online in South Africa, be in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

Brad Nadauld

Brad is a full-stack digital marketer with a serious podcasting & Youtube addiction. Over the last 10 years, he has personally created numerous websites, podcasts & online courses. He's worked with large multi-national corporations, built several online businesses and consulted to a number of clients to help them grow their reach, impact and most importantly their income online.

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