Many members of the Amazon Associates Program (affiliates) do not really know specifics about the duration or length of time for the Amazon affiliate cookie lifespan really works, even though having this knowledge can have a major impact on overall earnings and conversion rates. Some people try cookie stuffing out of a lack of knowledge, which is a horrible strategy that can actually get your account banned permanently.
I am the developer of an Amazon store WordPress plugin called Product Style, so I have spent a lot of time personally researching and using the Amazon Associates Program.
I especially spent a lot of time pouring through all of the Amazon affiliate policies and agreements. This work was mainly done to ensure that I developed a plugin that would allow people to advertise Amazon products as an affiliate without breaking policies because I commonly saw other plugins that blatantly violated these policies.
While browsing these policies one day, I ran upon something that blew me away: the duration of an Amazon affiliate cookie can widely vary based on one simple thing. A cookie is something that gets placed in the browser of a website visitor that an affiliate refers to Amazon.
This cookie typically expires after only 24 hours, so commissions are only rewarded when a sale is completed during this time frame. However, section seven of the Amazon affiliate “Operating Agreement” document states that there is a way to extend this duration from 24 hours to a total of 90 days:
Subject to the exclusions set forth below, a “Qualifying Purchase” occurs when (a) a customer clicks through a Special Link on your site to the Amazon Site; (b) during a single Session that customer either (i) adds a Product to his or her shopping cart and places the order for that Product no later than 89 days following the customer’s initial click-through….
This basically just means that when those products are added to the customer’s Amazon shopping cart, you’ll get credit for those purchases as long as they are completed within 89 days. I say 90 days, because Amazon is referring to 89 days after the day that the products are added to the shopping cart.
Many people initially gained an interest in my plugin after learning that it provided an easy way to send all of your affiliate traffic to Amazon with this shopping cart cookie instead of the standard affiliate cookie. The difference between these two cookies is a lifespan of 89 days, so obviously it is important to know how these really work.
When you generate a standard affiliate link through Amazon.com or with many other plugins on the market, the traffic you send through those links will get tagged with a 24 hour cookie that controls whether or not you get credit for their purchase.
However, when affiliate traffic adds a product to their shopping cart on Amazon, the affiliate cookie lifespan is extended from 24 hours to 90 days. This can actually happen with normal affiliate links, but it will depend on the referred traffic actually adding that product to their cart.
The alternative is to automatically prompt your traffic to add an Amazon product to their shopping cart. It completely bypasses a step where a lot of affiliates commonly lose traffic with Amazon because of the short cookie lifespan.
As an affiliate, there are actually two ways that you can prompt a user to add a product to their shopping cart.
The first requires the on-site shopping cart widget that my plugin includes. When a visitor to your site clicks on an ad for an Amazon product, that product will be added to their on-site shopping cart. They can proceed to add more products to their cart, change the desired quantity of added products, or even remove products from the cart. Once they are satisfied, they can click on the Checkout button in the shopping cart. At this point, they will be redirected to an Amazon page that asks them to confirm adding those products to their cart. When they confirm, they’ll be tagged with a 90 day affiliate cookie. If they complete a purchase that includes those products in the next 90 days, you’ll receive a commission for the whole purchase.
The second method with my plugin that you can use is a direct shopping cart link. With this type of affiliate link, a visitor to your site that clicks on an Amazon ad will automatically get redirected to the Amazon page that asks them to add the product to their shopping cart. When they confirm, they are tagged with the 90 day affiliate cookie. It’s basically the same thing as the on-site shopping cart but without the extra steps on-site.
If you already run Amazon affiliate sites that make money with ads you’ve created yourself or with ads created by other plugins, you could easily be losing out on a decent portion of the earnings you really deserve.
Based on my experiences running Amazon affiliate sites and also my experiences as a consumer of products, I believe most people will not make a quick decision with most of their purchases. I think this especially holds true as the product price gets higher. When something costs more, people are much more likely to want to do more research before making a final decision. They want to know if the product is good, if it is really worth the money, and especially if they can buy it cheaper somewhere else.
I am convinced that Amazon earns numerous millions of dollars each year from purchases referred by affiliates but with an expired cookie. This should be money in your pocket but it is in theirs because someone took more than 24 hours to decide to buy something.
The new advertising methods that my WP plugin offers gives you a way to stop sending Amazon traffic with a short cookie life. Many other existing Amazon affiliate sites have made the switch to the Product Style plugin and experienced quick results from these new methods.
The intention of this lesson is not to try to convince you to buy my plugin (many of you likely already own it). Instead, I want you to truly understand how Amazon cookies work so you can maximize your revenue on each site you build and run.
It is possible to utilize Amazon shopping cart features without the use of my plugin, but I won’t even begin to try to explain how that is done (it would really just be for those with programming experience anyways).
Get Product Style:
Another alternative is ExtendAzon, which will convert the existing links on your site into shopping cart links (which provide the 90 day cookie duration).