Amazon Cuts Off Affiliate Search Bidding

If you’re a merchant with a large affiliate program, you’ve certainly given plenty of thought to whether referral partners should be permitted to buy search keywords. Allowing the practice drives traffic and leads, but it also raises keyword prices and fills the coffers of Google and other search engines.

Amazon, which runs one of the Web’s largest affiliate programs, has just come down on the side of controlling keyword costs. As of May 1, U.S. and Canadian referral partners in the Amazon Associates program will no longer be reimbursed for driving conversions through paid keyword bidding, the company said.

Not only that, but anyone using search ads to send traffic to Amazon product pages will have their accounts shut down. Of course Amazon phrases this in the kindest possible terms: “As long as you stop your paid search activities relating to our US and Canadian sites and otherwise remain in compliance with the terms of the Associates Operating Agreement (e.g., by sending users to our websites through links on your site), your Associates account will not be closed,” the company notes in a FAQ on the policy change.

It seems possible, based on that aggressive step, that Amazon is in a hurry to reduce its search ad spend. I’d be curious to just know how much this move will shrink that spend, and conversely how much it will cost Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

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