Amazon Affiliate Agreements and Terms of Service (TOS)
Whether you are just starting out, or a long-time successful member of the Amazon Associates Program, you must adhere to Amazon’s TOS rules and program policies. Don’t get your Associate’s account banned. You will likely get no written notice or warning of a pending issue. Your account simply gets closed.
After your first three sales your site will be reviewed for compliance — be ready. It can be difficult as there are many rules and they are often applied inconsistently.
If you are a large affiliate bringing Amazon lots of business you are given more leeway and even a special agreement.
If you are a newer affiliate Amazon can be very strict. It doesn’t help that the Amazon affiliate terms and conditions are listed in a long complex document. Actually, there are two documents that make up your associates program participation requirements:
The Amazon affiliate program is how many affiliate marketers get started or earn a living. It is the largest affiliate marketing program in the world. But the rules can be confusing and are sometimes vague.
Let’s take a look at the Amazon affiliate rules and things that WILL get you banned from the Amazon affiliate program. Of course you must also adhere to any local or other applicable law.
Things that will get your Amazon Associate account banned
Amazon affiliate disclosure statement
You must identify yourself as an Associate/affiliate. This is critical and something that must be done for any relevant Amazon site. In many plugins you can automatically add this to your site pages that have Amazon products on it. The text that Amazon lists in the operating agreement is:
[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com].
Visit our post with detailed information about Amazon Disclosure Rules.
You must list the date and time of the last price update.
If you want to display product prices, you must show when the price was pulled from Amazon. You must get the price via the Advertising API (API).
Some plugins will do this automatically and give you style control over the text. You can see our video that describes these compliance requirements.
You also can’t say things like, “this is the cheapest price”. Mentioning price is also potentially a bad conversion optimization idea. Get the visitor to go to the Amazon website. They are conversion magicians and you may get unrelated sales and commissions.
Best to just stay away from price in your reviews.
Don’t cloak links
You can not hide the fact that you are sending visitors to Amazon. It must be clear that the link the user follows is going to the Amazon site. Your affiliate links should not be cloaked.
Some affiliates will use a link shortener but be sure to include something like “Amazon-link” in the shortened name. This may be sufficient but Amazon is inconsistent with this.
The best way to use special links that are shorter on your Amazon affiliate website is to get it from your SiteStripe when you are logged into your associates account. Other linking tools may get you in trouble.
No affiliate links in e-mails.
You can not send a user directly from an email message to Amazon. You can send them back to your website where they can then select the link to Amazon.
This is best practice anyway as you then have the opportunity to send them to a specific landing page and add a Facebook cookie for future retargeting. You are not allowed to do any offline promotion.
…you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation
Don’t Put an Amazon Affiliate Link in your eBook.
I often use eBooks as lead magnets to capture emails and start an autoresponder series. But these eBooks can not have Amazon links in them. You should be careful of mentioning ebooks when discussing Amazon products in your reviews or other posts.
Amazon affiliate rules prohibit putting links in eBooks. Any product links in an eBook should go to a landing page or blog post where you can have affiliate links.
Don’t Use Amazon Content Inappropriately
All content on the Amazon site is their property. They take their intellectual property rights very seriously. This includes images, product descriptions and Amazon user reviews.
The only way you can use them on your Amazon affiliate site is via Stripe or the Product Advertising api. The API will essential be your data feed access id. This is an important Associates program participation requirement and a frequent reason to have your account banned.
To obtain product advertising content you must be API approved. This requires 3 sales from your special links. Website owners who have the 3 sales can request access to the Amazon API and Amazon will review your site before granting approval and check for operational and functional capabilities that meet their Terms of Service, applicable laws etc.
If approved you will be given special keys. you can not share or borrow these, if your private key does not match your approved site the api will not function and may be revoked.
This api key amounts to your Associates program ip license. There are technical and engineering requirements to use the API many affiliates do fine without it. But if you want a data feed to build a price comparison tool etc. it is required.
You can get images or images and descriptions on Site Stripe which you will see at the top of your browser if you are logged to your existing Amazon account. This will let you create Amazon affiliate links with graphics and descriptions.
Buying ads and other paid search placements are ok as long as you don’t violate the vendors allowed search terms. They are generally ineffective due to the low commission payouts.
There are prohibited paid search placement channels like illegal sites, porn sites etc.
Keep all of the personal information in your Amazon associates account current. List the website address of any affiliate website you want to have Amazon affiliate links on.
Keep your direct deposit and bank account information current. Keep any tax information current.
Keep email current. If you have an email address than currently listed online and there are bounced messages from the Associates program you may have issues.
No purchasing from your own link.
Amazon affiliate rules prohibit purchases that you make from your affiliate links. Generally they just don’t pay but best to not click on your own links. They even do not allow family members to purchase this way.
Don’t share affiliate links with family and ask them to purchase like regular customer clicks. This rarely works.
So avoid any purchases from the same computer that you use for setting up and managing your account. Even if the purchases are not from your Amazon.com account. You can’t purchase products for resale or commercial use from own Amazon affiliate links.
Don’t link from other sites with your ID
You can’t have links directly to Amazon from another site. No guest posts or niche edits going directly to Amazon with your ID. Amazon affiliate rules say you can’t put an affiliate link to the Amazon site from a site you have not listed in Amazon affiliate account.
Don’t design your site to look like Amazon’s
Amazon is very protective of its brand. If you use the same design, layout, and color as the Amazon website they will view that as a violation. In the Associates Operating Agreements document you will find the associates program trademark guidelines. Be sure to follow these.
Only one Associate account.
Amazon affiliate rules prohibit multiple accounts. You are only allowed one account but you can have many tracking IDs (up to 100) to manage your sites and campaigns. The benefit to this is you can have accurate tracking of sales by website.
You should get express prior written approval if you want a second affiliate ID. Generally this is for people with multiple corporations.
We have an in-depth post on using an Amazon Affiliate Tracking Id — Check it out.
No promoting of offensive products or to children.
This includes violent, illegal activities, sexually explicit materials, obscene, fake, discriminatory, etc. material. Amazon is not the place for “edgy” or counter-culture products.
Don’t promote to children under 13. There is a children’s online protection act that you should review if you want to promote products to kids. This for people promoting to children. You can promote baby products to adults without worry.
It is best to get prior written approval if you are promoting anything questionable or to kids
Don’t promote on social media except via Stripe
If you want to post in a FaceBook group or on a Facebook page you use the tools in your Associate account. When you are logged in as an Associate at Amazon you will have access to the Amazon Affiliates Stripe tool. Use the Share pulldown menu to add products to your Facebook and Twitter account for any social media promotion.
You can use links on your YouTube channel. This is actually one of the better ways to earn money with the Associates program.
But you also need to be concerned about FaceBook which has their own rules about posting affiliate links.
Amazon affiliate rules prohibit offering a financial incentive to purchase from you via Amazon. You can’t say “buy from our Amazon affiliate website and get 2% back” or similar. Likewise you can not have offline promotions if you are a charity for instance.
No cookie manipulation
No cookie stuffing, auto-tagging or otherwise altering the Amazon cookies. Don’t get cute or tricky. Amazon has lots of resources and they will find and ban you.
Don’t use Amazon trademarks inappropriately.
Amazon affiliates are so successful because of the power of the Amazon brand. They are very protective of this. This includes things like your logo and domain name. You will be banned if your site name is bestamazonproducts.com. Here is a link to the trademark policy.
Amazon affiliate program rules can be confusing. Those are the top things that will get you banned. Of course, Amazon reserves the right to ban anyone for any reason. The most important thing is to follow the rules above, create great content that attracts an audience and send those visitors to Amazon with total transparency.
Having an Amazon affiliate website is a great way to get started in the affiliate marketing world. Create a niche site around an audience you can resonate with and people will buy from your links in reviews and other content. Just be sure to follow the rules.
Do many people get banned from the Associates program by Amazon?
Unfortunately yes. It is a fairly common thing to happen.
What is the most common reason for being removed from the Associate’s program?
There is no data on this but from anecdotal evidence, the lack of a proper Amazon Associate disclosure is a common reason.
Are bans permanent?
It depends on the reason. Cookie manipulation and other fraudulent activities are not forgiven. A poorly worded or missing disclosure can be overturned.