Following the example of Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, Amazon UK has just notified its affiliates/associates that DTM (direct-to-merchant) linking will be prohibited starting from February 1, 2010. Unlike their North American counterparts, Amazon.co.uk is explicit that they are against direct linking of both paid search ads and organic SE results. Those that do not comply with the new regulations will have their accounts terminated. Here’s the text of the email that Amazon.co.uk’s affiliates have received earlier this morning:
After careful review of our Associates programme, we have made the decision that as of February 1, 2010, we will no longer pay referral fees to Associates who send users to Amazon.co.uk: Low Prices in Electronics, Books, Sports Equipment & more , aStore for Amazon Associates or Shoes & Handbags – Free One-Day Delivery & Return Shipping: Javari.co.uk through keyword bidding or other paid search on Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other search engine, or their extended search networks. In connection with this change, as of February 1, 2010, we will no longer provide Associates who engage in such paid search activities with access to our Product Advertising API or datafeeds. If you are currently enrolled in the Associates Programme as a Paid Search Placement Associate and wish to continue to participate in the Programme after February 1, 2010, you must choose a new category that most accurately describes the method you will use to send users to the Amazon.co.uk or Javari.co.uk site. Of course, just choosing a new category is not sufficient – you will also need to stop sending traffic via paid search links, as you will no longer be paid for such traffic starting on February 1, regardless of what category you choose. You may change your category by writing to us using the Contact Us form available on Associates Central or by following this link:
If you are enrolled in the Associates Programme as a Paid Search Placement Associate and you do not contact us to modify your category on or prior to March 1 2010 your Associates account will automatically be closed.
In addition, as of February 1, 2010 we will no longer pay referral fees on purchases made by customers who are referred to Amazon.co.uk: Low Prices in Electronics, Books, Sports Equipment & more or Shoes & Handbags – Free One-Day Delivery & Return Shipping: Javari.co.uk via Free Search Results. Free Search Results are links containing an Associate’s tag displayed in a search engine’s free, natural, or organic search results in response to a search query which send customers directly to an Amazon site without the customer first being sent to an Associate’s site and the customer clicking on a link to arrive at the Amazon site.
These changes do not prohibit you from purchasing paid search advertisements or submitting links to search engines so long as the links that appear on the search engines send customers to your site. If customers arrive at the Amazon.co.uk or Javari.co.uk site by clicking on Special Links displayed on your site (ie, links on your site pointing to Amazon.co.uk or Javari.co.uk with Amazon Associates tags), you will continue to earn referral fees in accordance with the Associates Programme Operating Agreement. There are a number of tools available through Associates Central to assist you with integrating Special Links into your sites, such as aStore by Amazon, various customisable widgets, and the Product Advertising API.
While the first paragraph of their letter — the letter begins with a statement that Amazon UK “will no longer pay referral fees to Associates who send users to [Amazon.co.uk and Javari.co.uk] through keyword bidding or other paid search on Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other search engine, or their extended search networks” — may sound like all paid search activity will be prohibited starting from February 1, paragraphs 3 and 4 make it clear that this move is prohibiting only DTM linking (see the underlined parts of the text above) — both from paid search and organic results.