Amazon cuts publishers’ affiliate commissions earned via automatic link tagging

Amazon Europe has halted paying publishers for affiliate commissions earned via automatic link-tagging tools such as SkimLinks and Google-backed Viglink, The Drum can reveal.

The move means publishers will no longer receive automatic affiliate revenue cuts from content that links from their own pages to any Amazon Europe sites.

Companies like SkimLinks provide auto-tagging tools which publishers can use to help monetise their content by automatically turning hyperlinks, words or references to products that are stocked on Amazon within the text, into affiliate links.

Until yesterday (1 August) Amazon had paid affiliate commissions to the likes of SkimLinks and Viglink as well as publishers for all links within their own editorial.

The Drum understands that Amazon Europe informed automatic-tagging services including SkimLinks months ago that it would be stopping payments for their affiliate links.

During that time SkimLinks appealed and has won the right to keep some of its tools – SkimWords and ShowCases. However, any purchases referred through SkimLinks or any other auto-tagging solution will no longer earn commissions from 1 August.

SkimLinks will continue to fight the decision. In a letter SkimLinks sent out to its customers, seen by The Drum, CEO Alicia Navarro said: “We are not taking this lying down.

“We are already hard at work building an innovative solution that will mitigate the impact of this change on your earnings. We will announce this new feature in the next few weeks, and you will be able to make use of it shortly afterwards.

“We passionately feel that publishers should be rewarded for the value they offer merchants via their content and their community, and Amazon's aggressive decision is a slap in the face to your hard work. In the short term, we’ve released research that details to the industry how critical you are to driving e-commerce, and we’ll keep working hard to ensure you get rewarded for the work you do,” she said in the letter.

The move is a major blow to publishers, according to LBi’s head of media innovation Andrew Girdwood, who said: “Amazon and eBay are two significant affiliate players, which help make affiliates millions. Losing Amazon is a nightmare for anyone – it’s like losing them as a client.

"The ramifications are interesting because Amazon is not disqualifying anyone for any kind of trickery, but for things that were done automatically," he added.

Amazon was unavailable to comment in time for the publication of this article.

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