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Getting Started With the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program

Getting Started With the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program
Credit: Hadrian / Shutterstock.com

Online advertising is a challenging business. Poor industry behaviors and heightened consumer awareness about privacy have made people skeptical about the effectiveness of running internet ads. Add in oppressive and annoying practices and you have an uncertain marketing method without a clear-cut future.

This makes monetizing your website a challenge. The big name in this field is still Google AdSense, and it's often the go-to for newcomers who aren't quite sure how they want to proceed.

The Amazon Associates program, however, is one you ought to give a serious look. It offers generous payouts and leverages the popularity of the world's dominant ecommerce platform. Here are some general tips for getting started. [Looking for ecommerce software? Check out Business News Daily's best picks for small businesses.]

Amazon's affiliate program is free to join, with a pledge from Amazon that you can earn as much as 10 percent in affiliate fees (this sometimes bumps up higher during special runs). You can add in links to specific content or use the company's native shopping ads.

A comprehensive tool set allows you to choose the links you want and build specific advertising material that will mesh best with your site. There are several tools to make the content friendly for desktop and mobile visitors, as well as analytics tools to help you make the most of your campaigns. Learn more about these tools on the Amazon Associates website.

Unless you're one of the tens of people on the planet without an Amazon account, you can use the same account for this advertising initiative as you do for all those impulse buys.

When you first head to the Amazon Associates site, you'll still need to do the usual verification of your account or sign up for a new one. Then you'll submit the list of sites that you'll be using for the program. The site list lets Amazon verify that the websites comply with all the program's rules. Next, you'll need to create an Amazon CPM Ads code. The code is placed on your site and empowers Amazon to verify participation.

The setup process is rather straightforward, but in case you run into issues, the FAQs section has a well-organized collection of resources.

By far one of the most popular methods for putting ads on a website is native banner ads. Amazon offers three main types of native ads: recommendation ads, search ads and custom ads.

With recommendation ads, you can choose a product or genre of items and then display similar products. Use the search box to track down a specific product, or select from the categories in the list.

By default, there's a preview of how the ad will look on the desktop, but be sure to check the mobile preview. Remember, mobile marketing is very much the future, as most potential customers turn to their mobile devices first.

Amazon's ads are responsive, built to look good on both desktop and mobile platforms. Credit: Amazon.com

Search ads give the user a little more flexibility with a direct search link to Amazon directly on the site.

A search ad gives the website user an easy way to find products on Amazon. Credit: Amazon.com

Custom ads give the site owner the greatest amount of integration with their current content. You can curate content from Amazon's catalog that meshes well with the content on your site and might lead to a click-thru and sale.

When you make a custom ad, you can pick specific content from Amazon's colossal catalog of items. Credit: Amazon.com

This latter option requires some more work, but it'll boost the likelihood that the advertisements will pay off.

While native ads are the best-dressed alternative for Amazon advertising, there are other choices as well. Product links can build a link to a specific page. A site stripe puts a permanent text or image advertisement and builds in easy sharing to social networks. There's also the mobile popover, which will be friendly for showing ads on smartphones but runs the risk of annoying visitors.

Amazon's frequent promotional offers can also give you a small boost for specific types of content. Check in from time to time to see what's available. 

Before throwing something down on your site, spend some time with the variety of tools that Amazon offers. More so than a lot of other advertising services, Amazon gives you a lot of flexibility in building ads that may appeal to users of your site.

Amazon Associates is a solid option for any business or publisher that wants another outlet for monetization. Get to know what is available to determine if it's the right fit for your site.

Derek Walter

Derek Walter is the founder of Walter Media, which offers writing and content strategy services. He is also the author of Learning MIT App Inventor: A Hands-On Guide to Building Your Own Android Apps.