Amazon Testing Contextual Ad Program with Affiliates

Amazon.com confirms it’s dipping its toes into online advertising. The retail giant is testing a program to distribute third-party contextual ad links to its network of affiliates.

Though Amazon won’t say who is providing the ads, a spokesperson says the retailer and the affiliate will each receive a cut whenever someone clicks through. Similarly to Google AdSense or Yahoo Publisher Network, the ads are targeted based on the content on the page. The links will appear on the same pages as affiliates’ links to products on Amazon.

“We believe that by working with a third-party to provide Associates with links to relevant Web sites, in addition to products on Amazon, that we can help them make more money from their sites,” Andrew Herdener, an Amazon spokesperson, told ClickZ in an email exchange. “This will help us maintain long-term relationships with our Associates community that provides an important source of traffic to Amazon sites.”

News of the beta test spread through the blogosphere after Chris Beasley posted about being approached by the retail giant.

So far, only hand-picked Associates are participating in the beta test, and Amazon won’t say whether it plans to roll the advertising out further. The text began January 27.

A number of different providers distribute contextually-targeted advertising to smaller publishers, including Google, Yahoo, Miva and Kanoodle.

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