If you are already an Amazon affiliate (or associate as they call it) you probably already know what I’m talking about when I talk about the Amazon affiliate cookie, but in case you are just getting started let me go over it real quick.
When you become an Amazon affiliate you have the right to promote any product sold by Amazon and make a small commission your promotion mechanisms result in an actual sale. The way this works is Amazon puts a custom link building at your disposal so that you can get a unique link to any of their products. This unique links contains your affiliate ID, and therefore Amazon knows when someone is coming to their site through one of your links.
Now as soon as a potential customer enters Amazon through one of your links they get a cookie on their browser which links them to you as an affiliate. As long as that cookie is active you will earn commissions on anything that customer purchases. That’s right, you actually earn a commission from any item that the customer purchases while your cookie is still active, not just the product you were promoting. So if you were promoting a motorbike helmet and somebody clicks on your link and goes to Amazon you will get a commission from the sale of that helmet (assuming the customer goes through with the payment) plus anything else he might purchase (motorbike gloves, boots, even toilet paper, anything!), as long as your cookie is still active.
So next thing we will be looking at is how long does that cookie actually last. Well Amazon has two kinds of cookies, a 24-hour cookie and a 90-day cookie, which might actually turn into a much longer cookie as we’ll see now.
The Amazon affiliate 24-hour cookie
The Amazon 24-hour affiliate cookie is generated and place on your reader’s browser as soon as they click on an Amazon link containing your affiliate ID tag. This link will usually redirect your reader to a product description page, were he or she will have the opportunity to review the product directly on Amazon and decide whether they want to go ahead with the purchase or not.
So what this 24-hour cookie means is you will get credit for that sale if the customer ends up making that purchase within the next 24 hours after clicking on your link. Now the beauty about this cookie is that you will not only get credit if the user decides to purchase the item you were promoting within the next 24 hours but you will also get credit for any other product they decide to buy within that time frame. And since people do more and more shopping on Amazon every day this opens the door to making money on purchases that your readers would’ve made anyway, whether you showed them the way to Amazon that day or not.
Now this cookie will expire after 24 hours, so the bad news is even if somebody clicks on your affiliate link and decides to go through with their purchase 48 hours, 72 hours or a week later, you won’t get credit for that sale, even if you were probably a big influence in making it happen.
The 24-hour cookie will also expire if the user revisits Amazon through a different affiliate link within the 24 hours following to clicking on yours. So if a user clicks on your link, does not complete the purchase, keeps doing online research, clicks on a different affiliate link and then makes the purchase you won’t be credited for that sale, the last affiliate whose link was used to point the customer to Amazon will.
The Amazon affiliate 90-day cookie
The 90-day cookie on the other hand gives you the option to earn commissions on sales that are made up to 90 days after a user clicks on your affiliate link. Sounds good right? Well yes, although there are things that need to happen in order for this cookie to be placed on the user’s browser.
It basically comes down to the user adding the product to their shopping cart. If the user gets to Amazon through an affiliate link of yours they automatically get the 24-hour cookie valid towards any purchase made within the next 24-hours as we’ve seen before. Now if in addition to that they decide to place the product in their shopping cart then they’ll get an additional 90-day cookie that’s valid only towards that particular item. So you will still earn from any other purchases the customer makes within the next 24-hours plus you’ll also earn if the user decides to go through with the purchase of the item that’s in their shopping cart sometime within the next 90 days.
This is the “organic” way of getting the 90-day cookie. However, you can also force it by promoting your products with add-to-cart links instead of regular Amazon affiliate links. What an add-to-cart link does is it redirects the user to an Amazon page were they will be prompted with a message to confirm they want to add that product straight to their shopping cart, without visiting the product’s description page. If they click the continue button, then the 90-day cookie will be placed. This sounds good in theory, but in many cases it might be seen as too aggressive of a sale by the customer and make them close the confirmation page instead of clicking on the continue button, in which case you make nothing.
If you want to use add-to-cart links successfully you need to make sure that your customer actually expects the next step after clicking that link to be the checkout process and that they don’t expect to get any additional information before making their purchase.
The Amazon affiliate infinite cookie
The 90-day cookie can also become sort of an infinite cookie. This is good to know, although there really isn’t anything you can do about it.
The reason why the 90-day cookie lasts 90-days it’s because that’s how long it takes for an amazon shopping cart to expire. If you go to Amazon and add a product to your cart that product will stay there for 90-days thanks again to cookies (although a different kind of cookies which we won’t look into right now). After that your cart will be cleared.
This is true for any given user. However, if the user is already logged in to their Amazon account when they add the product to their cart then that cart is saved to Amazon’s database, not to the user’s browser through cookies, and virtually does not expire, opening the door to you making a commission on a sale that happens even after the 90 day window has passed.