Some writers use Facebook ads to attract newsletter subscribers while others run them to sell books. Since minimizing your Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and increasing your net income is the ultimate goal for the latter, authors who’ve joined the Amazon Associates Program are probably hoping to maximize profits and earn Amazon affiliate income through their Facebook ads.
The commonly accepted wisdom is that they shouldn’t (at least not directly).
“Why not?” I hear some of you ask. “I want my 4% commission in addition to my royalty share. Every penny counts, man!”
Well, sorry to break it to you, but using your Amazon affiliate link in your Facebook ad goes against their operating policies and can get you kicked out of the Associates Program.
Yet, some people still take the risk.
Why? They probably don’t do it for the measly 4% commission. (That’s $0.12 on a $2.99 e-book, but it can become significant if you move lots of books AND the Amazon cookie is valid for 24 hours, so some visitors could buy an expensive item while your cookie is still valid and send extra affiliate earnings your way. Yes, add that expensive TV to your cart, please!)
No, most writers who knowingly take the risk of including an affiliate link in their Facebook ad do so for the valuable tracking data that comes from using an affiliate link that is unique to their ad.
But using a direct Amazon affiliate link in your Facebook ad is not the ONLY option when it comes to selling your Amazon book from a Facebook ad.
There are other ways to do it. Some will allow you to earn affiliate income, some will give you additional analytics on your ad performance, and some will do both. I can’t say which option will work best for you (it depends on your needs and risk tolerance), but I’ve done the research and gone through the pros and cons of six different options so you can make an educated decision.
Watch this video to better understand six options for selling your Amazon e-books using Facebook Ads.
Here’s a summary of the main points (with a few additional helpful comments thrown in).
To start, please read Amazon’s Operating Policies and refer to them frequently as they do change.
NOTE: This article is NOT legal advice and I do not work for Amazon. The information presented here is based on my understanding of Amazon’s terms. Please read them for yourself here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/help/operating/policies
Include a direct affiliate link
- Affiliate link could earn you extra money
- Accurate tracking data from Amazon
- Direct traffic so there’s no possibility of a drop-off between Facebook and Amazon
- Goes against Amazon’s terms so if (or when?) you get caught, you could lose all pending affiliate earnings.
As such, Option A is NOT recommended, especially NOT for an ad that will run for several days/weeks/months.
Include a direct (non-affiliate) link to Amazon
- Will not get in trouble since you’re not using an affiliate link
- Direct traffic from Facebook to Amazon, so no possibility of drop-off
- Only estimated Amazon sales based on actual sales and comparison to baseline sales
- Facebook “click” data (even “outbound click” data) is inflated, so you can’t rely on it if you want ACCURATE data
As such, Option B is totally fine but isn’t very useful if you are testing your ads and want to see how they perform.
Link to your website, then users click to buy on Amazon (with your affiliate link)
- Accurate sales data from Amazon
- Earn extra affiliate income
- Because users have an extra step (click), it’s possible they will drop off and not get to Amazon
As long as you mention the presence of an affiliate link on your website (and have included it in your account settings in Amazon Associates), then you should be in the clear with Amazon. If your page is free of distraction and your sales copy is compelling, this could be a good way to test your ads and measure improvement (and you could then switch to Option B/E with your best ad to reduce the potential of drop-off).
Automated redirection from Facebook to Amazon WITH an affiliate link
- Accurate click data (from your link redirection service)
- Accurate sales data (from your Amazon affiliate link)
- AUTOMATED redirection with an affiliate link goes AGAINST Amazon’s policies, so you could get booted out of the program and lose your unpaid earnings.
Because Option D clearly goes against Amazon’s policies, I do NOT recommend you use it (even though it seems like the perfect solution).
Automated redirection from Facebook to Amazon WITHOUT an affiliate link
- Accurate click data from your redirection service (such as Pretty Links) instead of relying on Facebook’s inflated click data
- Facebook users go directly from Facebook to Amazon, so there’s no possibility of drop-off
- Will not get in trouble since you’re not using an affiliate link
- No affiliate commission because you didn’t use an affiliate link.
- No accurate sales data from Amazon (only sales data compared to baseline sales)
Option E is similar to Option B, except that you get more accurate click data. To learn more about Pretty Links, a free WordPress plugin, please refer to the video. There are other free/paid link redirection services, but make sure to NOT include an affiliate link that AUTOMATICALLY redirects users from your Facebook ads to Amazon.
Manual redirection with an affiliate link
- Accurate click data from Books2read.com (free service) to Amazon
- Affiliate income because the readers’ clicks are the “affirmative action” that meets Amazon’s requirements
- Amazon affiliate sales data from your books2read tracking code (inaccurate but could be useful)
- Books2Read.com only permits the use of one affiliate-ID for your entire account, so you can’t determine with certainty which link can be credited for each sale, but you can easily see if no sales/a sudden spike in sales occurred through your Books2Read affiliate link.
- Because Facebook users will have to take an extra step (click) they could drop off before reaching Amazon.
- Inaccurate click data from Facebook to Books2Read, so do NOT assume the discrepancy between Facebook’s (inflated) outbound clicks and Books2Read’s clicks is 100% drop-off but there could be some real drop-off.
If you choose Option F, I recommend you add “Books2Read.com” as an approved website in your Amazon Associates’ account settings because you are required to list ALL websites where you are recommending Amazon products.
So, what is the best option?
Depending on your goals and needs, Option F might be the best option if you want to focus on earning affiliate income. Test it and see. The extra purchases made through your affiliate tracking code could lead to fat affiliate checks that would compensate for the drop-off (or the extra click required from the users could lead to no sales at all/high drop-off).
Your choice will depend on your tolerance for risk versus your need to get accurate data and avoid extra steps in the sales process. I think Option E is better than Option B, which is what many authors default to since they think it’s the only approved option.
And I believe a LOT of authors could currently be using Option D and assuming they’re doing things above board… Unfortunately, Amazon’s terms are REALLY clear on automated redirections with affiliate links. Amazon uses automated spiders to scour the web, and that’s probably how they find unapproved uses of their affiliate links, so if you use Option D, watch out! You could lose your unpaid affiliate earnings and get kicked out of their program.
I hope that my research will guide you in your decision and help you earn a little extra commission (and get some accurate data) while keeping you on the right side of the rules.
Again, the information included in this article should not be seen as legal advice. I am not a lawyer and do not work for Amazon. I am just a person that has done the research and can offer my interpretation based on this research. I will not be held liable if you follow my advice and get into trouble.