Is Amazon Affilate Program a Waste of Time – Amazon Review

Is the Amazon affiliate program a waste of time ?

I signed up to the Amazon affilate program in 1997.  I am probably one of their most long lived affilliates. Right at the start  the affilate program was excellent, Amazon were still a young company who were not a household name.  Their strategy in those days was to become known and to get as many people to sign up as possible. I remember one Christmas maybe around 1999 when I got a bonus of $2000 for getting new customers to sign up. The bonus was so generous I even got some friends to sign up to Amazon to buy a book and I would pay them for the book.  Amazon afilliate program was the first way just a normal person could publish content and earn some extra cash. This was before blogging and You tube.  Right at the start I would regularly earn over $1000 per month.  I must have sold millions of dollars worth of books and other merchandise on Amazon.

At the time that Amazon was paying out well I had loads of content with Amazon links, book reviews, articles about things that could be bought on Amazon.  A lot of this content still exists on my websites.   This is how I have up to date stats on the Amazon affiliate program.  Many years ago lots of websites had bookshops and many links to Amazon.

Alas, the Amazon bounty years did not last. They because a household name and do not really need afilliates and now pay peanuts.  The income has gone down over the years and it is now derisory.  I still have some content with links to Amazon.  I just logged into Amazon to see how much I have earned this year.  It is now December 16th 2017.

Below is a screen shot of the stats for this year.  (you might have to click on it to see it better)  As you can see  (in 2017) I have sent them 4052 clicks and earned $8.66.  I have just searched internet for the average click through rate on links. It seems that 1% (one in every 100) is a good average.  So my 4052 clicks represents about 405 200 page impressions.  Do you know how difficult it is to get 405 200 page impressions? If that was views of a youtube channel that would earn about $400.  On google adsense that could earn about $500.  Compare that with $8.66 So my friends, in my opinion the Amazon affilate program is a total waste of time and if anyone leaves your site by clicking on a link to Amazon it will almost certainly be a loss of revenue. I am sure that Amazon do not really give a toss if  affilliates exist or not.   They have already won the household name battle.

Amazon Afilliate Program Stats.
Amazon Afilliate Program Stats.

It is no surprise that something that was profitable in the past becomes a waste of time in the present.  Apparently 70% of all jobs that exist now will be taken over by computers or robots within 10 years.  Why am I even bothering to write this article. The google ads on this article will probably take 10 years to make 20 euros if I am lucky.

Are we all doomed to earn nothing while people like Jess Bezos and Mark Zukerberg wallow in stupendous wealth?

Every morning I read the Guardian on my smartphone. They ask for a donation but I never pay anything.

The news is all about Brexit and Trump.

Are we all doomed?

 

Is the booking.com afilliate program any good?

Review of the booking.com Affiliate Partner Program

Booking.com affilate review

 

When internet first because widely used, which was around the year 2000, most hotels did not have their own website and for most people the only way to book a hotel was to go to a travel agent. The travel agents would look up the hotel information on special databases such as “sabre” and another one which a I can’t remember and make the booking for you in their office.  I remember going to Thomas Cook travel agent in the 80s and this was the modus operandi. After spending 20 minutes with a “nice man” you would leave the Thomas Cook office clutching your “Traveller’s Cheques” and details of your hotel bookings along with your tickets for a “Charter Flight” which was supposedly a cheap option, this would cost about 10 times what it would cost today (2017).  Here I must admit to lying, until 1991 I never stayed in a hotel, I would sleep in fields or under motorway bridges if I was  hitch-hiking.    Booking.com started in 1996 but it took them until about 2005 to become a massive worldwide company. They now have over  1 million properties worldwide and they are now a household name synonymous with hotel bookings. The same as Facebook or  their predecessor Friends United are associated with social media.

Ways of advertising a hotel pre-internet

Since 1998 I have been the webmaster of some reasonably well visited travel websites. To try to monetize these sites I signed up to the booking.com affiliate program, this was in 2007.

In order to get commission from a booking.com link it is necessary for the web surfer (us) to click on a link and then  go  immediately to book a hotel or in other words the web surfer has to book a hotel in the same session.  The cookie expires as soon as the user closes the browser.

The next paragraph is boring unless you have a travel website. It basically says that all newspapers or travel websites would have to close down if they relied for their income on the booking.com affiliate system.

Since 2007 I have sent booking.com 3039 clicks. This has resulted in 73 bookings which has earned 668 euros.  That is 21 euro cents per click. Nowadays 21 cents per click is not too bad. The  click-through rate is about 1 click per 500 impressions. So that means that the earning per 1000 impressions is about 10 cents.  That would mean that a page with 1 million views per day could earn  around 100 euros per day. My average google Adsense earnings are around 160 cents per 1000 views so the booking.com is 16 times less effective than Adsense. It may well be better to just put google Adsense ads on relevant content rather than using the booking.com affiliate system.  On the Wikipedia page is says that booking dot-com spent around $40 million on adwords in 2011. (Who gave Wikimedia that statistic?)  By the way anyone who uses adwords is not allowed to publicly discuss this?

On the affiliate site it makes it look like the percentage comission is 25%. It is actually 2.2%. I just booked a hotel for a family for 1 night. The cost of the one night was 180 euros.  Booking.com themselves charge hotels 15%.

I recently tried their new responsive search box widget. The results are disappointing. I gave the search box 11646 impressions which resulted in 22 clicks, zero bookings and zero income.  I eventually deleted search box widget after 32 000 impressions with zero income. the See image below.

Conclusion
It would be much more lucrative to come to arrangements directly with  hotels to get a commission directly. Booking.com charge the hotels 15%, they give you 25% of that which is actually 3.75% comision.  However, if you don’t want the hassle of dealing directly with hotels it may earn you a very small residual income. If the income was better I would give them more prominence.

Hotels themselves have let themselves be ruled by booking.com. In one way you can consider this a good thing. Beforehand most hotels had a chaotic booking system  based on school exercise books with pencil ruled lines which contained all the booking information of their bookings and availability.  Booking.com offered a free system to coordinate all the bookings, prices and availability and in some ways provided a more level playing field. This has also been very attractive to the consumer. The advent of feedback pioneered by “Trip Advisor” has resulted in a system which favours the “guest”.

However, in my opinion the story is not yet over. Hotels etc do not really need a third-party such as booking.com to control them.

Someone will eventually offer a centralised source of information, prices and availability about hotels which hotels can buy into. The rate of commission will be much less than 15%.  Maybe there will be a small cut for travel websites which is better than  10 cents per 1000 views but until that moment the booking.com partner affiliate system is a “get rich very slowly scheme.

Booking.com Partner Program
Booking.com Partner Program

 

 

UPDATE: It has always surprised me how little I make on booking.com.  Ten days ago (oct 2017)  I  clicked on my own affiliate link and booked a hotel for myself and I stayed there. I am not sure if this is allowed according to the rules so before making the booking I deleted all cookies and used a VPN to give me an ip address in the UK.  Gues what? There was no mention of a booking on the affiliate statistics page.  I doubt if booking.com are intentionally not giving comissions but I have proved to myself  that their tracking system does not work as it should.  I wonder how many other bookings were not tracked correctly.