Amazon Affiliate Requirements

Last updated on 15 September 2022 by William Blesch (Legal and data protection research writer at TermsFeed)

Amazon Affiliate Requirements

If you participate in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, you must follow Amazon's Operating Agreement or risk being terminated. You're also required by law to include some particular disclosures so you maintain a transparent relationship with users and avoid fines.

Here's what you need to know about what Amazon requires, what the law requires, policies you need on your website if you join Amazon Associates, as well as explanations as to why each is needed and tips for drafting them.

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Many people with online real estate want the ability to monetize that digital property. There are various ways of achieving this, but becoming a partner in one or more affiliate programs is one of the easiest. Indeed, provided you choose wisely, becoming an affiliate could bring you a solid return on your investment.

Many bloggers have gone on to acquire serious cash. One example is Pat Flynn, who used affiliate marketing to build a $2.1 million a year income, according to Foundr.com. Another is Brian Lam, who founded The WireCutter.com (an evergreen consumer guide focusing on Amazon products) and became one of the most prosperous Amazon affiliates ever when the New York Times snatched up his site for a cool $30 million in October, 2016.

Both of the gentlemen mentioned above monetized their sites with the Amazon Associates program.

Amazon Associates is a popular affiliate marketing program with bloggers and small businesses. They advertise by creating special links on their websites and blogs, which point back to products for sale on Amazon. When a website or blog visitor clicks on those special links and then makes a purchase from Amazon, the website owner or blogger earns a commission. This is often an easy income stream for those who desire visibility and desire a benefit from reviewing products and services.

Monetizing your online presence through Amazon's affiliate program makes sense considering that Amazon is the most popular online shopping site within the English-speaking world. Indeed, most people (and probably you) have bought something through their website at one point or another.

With that said, there are pitfalls that anyone who wishes to become an Amazon Associate should avoid. Many of these issues arise when someone is ignorant of Amazon's affiliate requirements. Violating the company's regulations and rules is a recipe for getting yourself kicked out of the affiliate program.

Moreover, as Amazon is unceremoniously dumping you, you'll likely lose any commissions you've made, but which haven't yet been paid. Then, to make things worse, you may not be able to get back into the program at all once you've broken the Terms of Service.

With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense to ensure that you are always in compliance with Amazon's affiliate requirements, doesn't it? That's why we wrote this guide, which breaks things down for you nicely and neatly.

Requirements for Amazon Associates

You have two sets of requirements to follow if you join Amazon Associates

The first is provided by Amazon Associates, and the second includes legal requirements enforced by the Federal Trade Commision (FTC).

Here's a summary of each.

Requirements by Amazon

The Amazon Associates Program Operating Agreement reads like most sites' Terms and Conditions. It explains the program, its duties to you as an associate, and the requirements for your participation.

This is not a document to overlook. If you fail to follow the requirements discussed in it, Amazon Associates may remove you from the program and you will no longer be entitled to earnings:

Amazon Associates Program Operating Agreement: Compliance Requirements clause

Perhaps the most important requirement is located in section 5. This section deals with how you identify yourself as an Amazon Associate. Often referred to as the Amazon Associate Disclosure, the operating agreement offers the exact language needed to communicate this effectively:

Amazon Associates Operating Agreement: Section 5 - Identifying Yourself clause - Updated for 2022

This requirement maintains your membership with Amazon Associates but it also serves another purpose. It maintains your compliance with U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumer protection guidelines.

Requirements by the Law

In the U.S., the FTC has affiliate disclosure requirements for affiliate marketers.

These can be found in the FTC's Dot Com Disclosures guidelines, and on its "What People Are Asking" website.

If you require an affiliate disclosure, the FTC requires that they are clear and conspicuous. You should place them near your reviews and affiliate links. Use bold text to make them stand out and even consider giving them their own page with a clear link.

A good example is provided by Wellness Mama:

Wellness Mama Affiliate Disclosure

You can also include your Amazon Associate disclosure with the general FTC one. Wellness Mama places its Amazon disclosure right under its general affiliate disclosure:

Wellness Mama Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

Adopting the same format will keep you in good standing with the FTC and Amazon. However, there are other adequate approaches to these disclaimers, and you can't forget about other essential agreements as well.

For more detailed information on this, read our article Disclosures for Affiliate Links.

Amazon Associate Program Rules and Requirements

Amazon Associate Program Rules and Requirements

As noted, Amazon has rules that Associates must follow to remain in good standing and get paid. Amazon's rules are in place for a number of reasons.

For instance, one purpose for these requirements is to make sure affiliates can't game the system. Amazon wants those they're doing business with to be above board. The company wants to ensure that any promotion of Amazon products by third parties is done ethically.

Accordingly, the very first requirement you need to meet is understanding that Amazon's customers are not your customers.

Don't Present that Amazon Customers are Your Customers

In essence, Amazon requires that if you are an affiliate, you can't pretend that you're selling Amazon products as if you were Amazon:

Amazon Associates Program Operating Agreement: Customers Clause

If you plan to be an affiliate, you have to agree not to contact their customers directly or handle any customer service issues as if you were an Amazon representative.

In fact, if a customer that purchases a product through your affiliate link contacts you regarding any kind of interaction that is related to that purchase, you are obligated to point them to where they can contact Amazon directly.

Disclose that You're an Amazon Associate

As an Associate, you must disclose in both communications and on your website the fact that you might be entitled to earn commissions from recommendations you make, and from the links you post.

Indeed, an official disclaimer and affiliate disclosure are mandatory requirements under legal obligations set out by Amazon and the Federal Trade Commission. An example of an affiliate disclosure is provided by Amazon in its Associates Program Operating Agreement:

Amazon Associates Operating Agreement: Identifying Yourself as an Associate - Disclaimer requirement highlighted

The passage reads as follows:

You must clearly and prominently state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement, on your Site or any other location where Amazon may authorize your display or other use of Program Content: "As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases." Except for this disclosure, and other than as required by applicable law, you will not make any public communication with respect to this Agreement or your participation in the Associates Program without our advance written permission. You will not misrepresent or embellish our relationship with you (including by expressing or implying that we support, sponsor, or endorse you), or express or imply any affiliation between us and you or any other person or entity except as expressly permitted by this Agreement.

As you can see from the example above, a disclosure informs your visitors about the fact that you acquire compensation from Amazon as an affiliate. However, it doesn't have to be a word-for-word copy of the statement in Amazon's operating agreement. Notice that the text says your disclosure can be "any substantially similar statement."

Have a Well-Written Privacy Policy

Have a Well-Written Privacy Policy

In addition to the fact that websites that collect personal information are required by law to have a Privacy Policy, the Amazon Associate program demands that you have one as well. Amazon demands that its affiliates provide a guarantee that they are following privacy rules concerning how you collect, use, store, and disclose data.

In its Associates Program Participation Requirements, Amazon states:

Amazon Associates Program Participation Requirements: Privacy Policy requirement

(e) disclosing on your Site accurately and adequately and otherwise satisfying applicable legal requirements, either through a privacy policy or otherwise, the use of cookies, pixels, and other technologies by you and third parties and how you collect, use, store, and disclose data collected from visitors in accordance with applicable laws, including, where applicable, that third parties (including us and other advertisers) may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from visitors, and place or recognize cookies on visitors' browsers, and providing information on the visitor's choices with respect to opting-out from online advertising where required by applicable law, and...

In addition to actually having a Privacy Policy, you're required to place the document in an obvious, prominent location on your site. A traditionally acceptable area for a link to your Privacy Policy is in your website's footer section along with links to other documents like your Terms of Service.

Keep Your Website PG-13

In order for your website to be considered "suitable" for Amazon's purposes, you have to make sure that there is nothing sexually explicit or obscene, violent or that promotes violence, or any other distasteful materials as enumerated in Amazon's Enrollment and Eligibility section of its Associates Program Participation Requirements Policy:

Amazon Associates Program Policies: Enrollment and Eligibility section

You cannot enroll in the program if your site does any of the following:

a) promote or contain sexually explicit or obscene materials,
(b) promote violence or contain violent materials or promote, endorse or incite potentially dangerous or harmful acts,
(c) promote or contain false, deceptive, libelous or defamatory materials,
(d) promote or contain materials or activity that is hateful, harassing, harmful, invasive of another's privacy, abusive, or discriminatory (including on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age),
(e) promote or undertake illegal activities,
(f) are directed toward children or knowingly collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13 years of age or other applicable age threshold (as defined by applicable laws and regulations); or violate any applicable laws, ordinances, rules, regulations, orders, licenses, permits, guidelines, codes of practice, industry standards, self-regulatory rules, judgments, decisions, or other requirements of any applicable governmental authority related to child protection (for example, if applicable, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (15 U.S.C. ยงยง 6501-6506) or any regulations promulgated thereunder or the Children's Online Protection Act)

Amazon directly requires an associates disclosure and a Privacy Policy of some sort. While a Terms and Conditons agreement isn't explicitly required by Amazon or the law, having one can be incredibly beneficial to your website or blog.

Maintaining the following three policies will help you maintain compliance with Amazon's operating agreement and the law.

Disclaimers for Amazon Associates

As discussed, affiliate disclaimers and disclosures are required by the law and Amazon.

Ultimate IT Guys offers a good example of an Amazon Associates disclosure. It adopts nearly identical language to that described in the operating agreement:

Ultimate IT Guys: Amazon Associates disclaimer - Updated for 2022

Blog operators often take the same approach.

Karissa's Vegan Kitchen , they find a general disclosure regarding affiliate links and an Amazon Affiliate Disclaimer:

Karissas Vegan Kitchen: Amazon Affiliate Disclaimer updated

Hello Peaceful Mind labels its disclosure as an "Amazon Affiliate Disclosure" but it starts with general affiliate language to cover other relationships:

Hello Peaceful Mind Amazon Affiliate Disclaimer

This disclosure is the most important one when it comes to preserving your relationship with Amazon and ensuring legal compliance. Treat it with the same seriousness as you would other online agreements by making it conspicuous and readily available to your users.

Privacy Policy for Amazon Associates

The operating agreement contains a provision where you promise to follow all applicable laws, including those that relate to data protection:

Amazon Associates Program Operating Agreement: Warranties clause - updated

This broad provision is frequently interpreted to include privacy protection laws throughout the world.

A Privacy Policy is required in most jurisdictions. Even in the U.S. where there is no federal law on this matter, many states adopted their own laws requiring website operators to provide a Privacy Policy if they collect personal information from users.

Your Privacy Policy is where you can disclose information about advertising partners, as Hello Peaceful Mind does here:

Hello Peaceful Mind's Privacy Policy has an Advertising section where it includes its involvement with Amazon, and how cookies are used in this process:

Hello Peaceful Mind Privacy Policy: Advertising clause - Affiliate Program Participation section highlighted

Karissa's Vegan Kitchen advises that it does not have control over affiliate websites and the privacy risk shifts to the user when they follow these links:

Karissa

Affiliate relationships are often profitable for smaller websites and blog owners, but you do not want to bear the damages of any data irregularities when a user visits an affiliate link. Protect the privacy of your users and ensure your own legal compliance by using your Privacy Policy as a way to limit liability.

Terms and Conditions for Amazon Associates

A Terms and Conditions agreement may also be called a Terms of Use or Terms of Service. This agreement includes rules for users when they access your site. Terms also include a description of services and any duties you may owe to users.

Not all sites have this agreement. It's not required by law like Privacy Policies.

Amazon Associates does not require its participates to maintain a T&C. However, if you maintain one for other purposes, you should also address affiliates in it.

Start by extending the T&C to affiliates. Ultimate IT Guys starts by defining affiliates to include advertisers:

Ultimate IT Guys Terms and Conditions: Definition of Affiliates

The business includes a clause in its Terms agreement that addresses the protection of intellectual property, including trademarks and copyrighted material. This protection extends to Amazon trademarks and copyrights as well as its own:

IT Guys Terms of Use: Intellectual Property clause

This offers protection for the business as well as for Amazon.

If your users infringe on Amazon's intellectual property, a clause like this gives you grounds to terminate that user's account. It also establishes that you were not a party to the infringement and made efforts to prevent it. That makes it less likely that Amazon will pursue you for damages should this incident occur.

A T&C also includes warranty disclaimers. You can extend this protection to your affiliates as well.

Here's how Ultimate IT Guys does this:

IT Guys Terms of Use: Disclaimer of Warranties clause excerpt

You will want to do the same with your Limitation of Liability, again as Ultimate IT Guys has done here:

IT Guys Terms of Use: Limitation of Liability clause excerpt

Offering this protection may seem like excessive responsibility, but it works well to your benefit. If a user pursued Amazon for damages, Amazon could hold you liable if you did not offer the appropriate limitations and waives. You are not only taking responsibility for Amazon's interests, but you are extending liability protection to your own website as well.

In Conclusion

As noted at the beginning, if you want to monetize your website or blog, then becoming an Amazon Associate could be a great way to start. Above, we went over some of the key things you need to remember when it comes to Amazon Affiliate requirements.

For example, remember that not only do you have to keep in line with Amazon's demands, but part of those demands are that you ensure you're legally covered in terms of privacy issues. Therefore, make sure you've got a proper Privacy Policy in place.

Keep in mind that Amazon requires a lot more than what we've covered here.

It's a good idea then, for you to become intimately familiar with Amazon's Associates Operating Agreement and their Associates Program Policies. Both of these documents have been linked to in this article.

Amazon has an extensive Help section for its affiliates. Don't hesitate to use it.

The Amazon Affiliate program is an excellent way to make websites and blogs more profitable. However, it is a contractual relationship where Amazon extends an opportunity, and you must meet requirements to continue receiving a benefit.

If you maintain the correct disclaimers, a Privacy Policy, and T&C, you are more likely to enjoy a continued affiliate arrangement with Amazon and avoid legal violations that can disrupt the operation of your website.

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William Blesch

William Blesch

Legal and data protection research writer at TermsFeed

This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor is it a solicitation to offer legal advice.