Building Amazon Product Links with Affiliate Tags

Amazon’s affiliate program can be big business, and many web sites rely solely on Amazon affiliate program referral frees for their income. It’s a good business model for Amazon.com because it helps drive traffic and sales to their site, and it’s a good deal for the affiliates because they get a small piece of the pie by creating links to Amazon.com products that are encoded with their affiliate IDs. 

But because affiliate information can be encoded into product links, there are also a lot of people out there who try to “hijack” affiliate revenue on web sites by posting links to products that use their own affiliate tags or IDs. 

This article will describe a couple of different methods for creating Amazon.com product links with encoded affiliate IDs, and will introduce a tool that site owners or content publishers can use to help thwart affiliate revenue hijackers by making it very easy for users to create appropriately tagged Amazon.com product links.

About Amazon’s Affiliate Program

First a little background. When you click on a link encoded with someone’s affiliate tag ID, then anything you add to your cart over the next 24 hours or so, and then later purchase, will be credited to that affiliate. An affiliate usually earns about 4-7% of the total purchase price. Usually 4% on electronics, but usually about 6%+ on tools, books and other stuff. It doesn’t change the price for you, or cost you anything, and the affiliate knows nothing about you personally — just that a particular product was credited to him. If you use a link that’s encoded with a different affiliate ID within the 24 hours, then that affiliate will start getting credit.

Using an Amazon.com Product Link Generator

Probably the easiest way to create affiliate tag-encoded links to specific Amazon.com products is to use an Amazon.com product link generator, such at the one below or even the one on Amazon’s affiliate network (although that one doesn’t do as much). 

The benefit of this link generator is that you simply supply an affiliate tag and an Amazon.com ASIN (product code) and click Create. And what you get back is the complete code for a link that includes lots of pertinent information (like price, savings, an image, and rating) and that, when clicked, will give referral credit to the affiliate whose tag you specified — as a direct link, as HTML suitable for adding to a web page, or as BBCode suitable for adding to a forum post. 

Prepopulating Your Affiliate Tag for Referral Credit

If you’re a content publisher or web site owner and an Amazon.com affiliate, you can provide a link to this affiliate link generator to your users that will prepopulate your affiliate tag. For example, if your affiliate tag is “ccdc-20”, then simply append “?afid=ccdc-2” to the end of the URL (http://www.codecreations.com/apps/amazonlinker?afid=ccdc-20) and your affiliate ID will be pre-populated on the form for your users. This will make it a lot easier for your users to create detailed Amazon.com product links that give you referral credit.  

Generating Product Links With AWS

There are also a couple of ways to create product links in code and on the fly. The first and most reliable method is to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to generate the product link for you. To do this, you must register not only for the affiliate program, but also as a user for AWS. When you do this, you will be issues an Access Key that must accompany each AWS request.

wsAmazon.AWSECommerceService c
     = new wsAmazon.AWSECommerceService();
wsAmazon.ItemLookupRequest req
     = new wsAmazon.ItemLookupRequest();

// The ASIN to look up
req.ItemId = new string[] { "B012345678" };

// The data to fetch
req.ResponseGroup = new string[]
     { "Offers", "Images", "ItemAttributes", "Reviews" };

wsAmazon.ItemLookup lu = new wsAmazon.ItemLookup();
lu.AssociateTag = "My Associate Tag";
lu.AWSAccessKeyId = "My Access Key";
lu.Request = new wsAmazon.ItemLookupRequest[1] { req };

wsAmazon.ItemLookupResponse resp = c.ItemLookup(lu);

wsAmazon.Items[] items = resp.Items;
wsAmazon.Item MyItem = items[0].Item[0];

Creating Product Links On the Fly

If you don’t want to have to deal with setting up an AWS account and programming your way through the AWS specification, there is another still effective (but less reliable) way to create the product links. As of October 9, 2006, the following is currently the best (and safest) way to generate an Amazon affiliate link on the fly (by hand), according to the Web Services team at Amazon.com. They say, “Associates who wish to manually construct URLs do so at their own risk.” But this method does allow Amazon associates to “get data in their reports about the number of times their visitors click through to [the given product] (which is necessary for qualifying for certain compensation premiums that are offered in some of our international locales.”

To use this method, start with the following string and insert the ASIN (Amazon product number) and the affiliate tag or ID you wish to receive credit for the referral. 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/product/[Product ID]/?tag=[Affiliate Tag]&linkCode=asn&creativeASIN=[Product ID]

Replace “[Product ID]” with the Amazon product ID or ASIN, and replace “[Affiliate Tag]”with the affiliate tag you wish to receive referral credit.

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