Commission-less shall they be?

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Onsite Kicked Offsite

Written by Brook Schaaf

Per Modern Retail, “Amazon search results are no longer showcasing so-called ‘editorial recommendations,’ marking the end of an opaque program that many viewed as pay-for-play.”

The program, referred to as Onsite Associates (Amazon’s term for affiliates), known internally as OSP, was reportedly in operation since around 2018, working with a couple hundred content creators.

OSP showed review content by affiliates on search results pages. Upon scrolling down the page, users would see “Editorial Recommendation” above a byline by, say, The Spruce, and a disclosure that the content creator would earn commissions from this content.

Participants reportedly earned half the standard category commission with no halo effect — i.e., no commission paid out for other products purchased. It was unclear if this would negate the commission to another publisher that first drove traffic to the site.

This was, from my perspective, a bold, forward-thinking move that acknowledged the value of a third-party opinion and sort of turned review sites into the new coupon sites, insofar as it recognized the pattern of users leaving the merchant site to validate “the best” choice.

There were complaints along the way about a lack of communication and revenue decreases, but the program was said to be highly lucrative for some participants, such that companies like SellerRocket cropped up to help create content. One publisher I spoke with was generating well over $100,000 a month.

This valuable page space will reportedly now display ads, which will contribute to the business unit that has recently outpaced Amazon Web Services. This is great news for Amazon’s revenue, though not so much for its erstwhile OSP affiliates, who would do well to remember that what Amazon giveth, Amazon may taketh away.

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