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Marketing, Technology

Amazon’s Tempting New Income Stream for Influencers

And what it could mean for the future of Amazon and YouTube

Several weeks ago I went on Amazon to buy a few things I was too lazy to leave my home to pick up. When I got to the homepage, I accidentally scrolled down, which was something I’ve never done before. That’s when I discovered a woman live streaming on the site. I have to be honest with you, I was quite surprised. I had no idea that was even a possibility. With my curiosity officially piqued, I looked into it and discovered the Amazon Influencer Program.

What Is the Amazon Influencer Program?

The Amazon Influencer Program is an initiative to take influencer marketing in-house. Amazon is looking for those who already have their own online audience. If you have a decent-sized following on a social media platform such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook, you might qualify for this program.

It allows you to live stream and upload reviews for products right on Amazon itself. If your viewers purchase the products you recommend in your videos, either from your shelf or on your storefront, you can make a commission that ranges from 1–10% of the item’s price.

According to Business Insider, Amazon Influencers got paid anywhere from a few dollars to about $1,500 a month. That’s not much. But if you live stream on multiple platforms at the same time, create multiple videos using clips from your live streams, use affiliate links, and promote your storefront, this can easily add up.

If you already have a YouTube or Twitch channel, it won’t be much more work to add another platform to your arsenal. Especially if you’re already comfortable with live streaming. Not to mention that you can probably get brand deals with companies who sell their products on Amazon to help increase your profitability.

It’s possible that the large commission cuts Amazon Affiliate marketers saw last year were at least partly due to Amazon wanting influencers to promote products directly on Amazon itself. That way, Amazon will become a one-stop-shop for online purchases and product reviews. The longer you keep people on a website, the more money it tends to make.

Product Reviews Are a Lucrative Commodity

Amazon is known for its reviews. They are what helped the website to become the giant that it is today. Amazon reviews are the most trusted written reviews online, with 70% of shoppers reading them before making a purchase. Over 30% of consumers believe that Amazon reviews are the most accurate reviews online.

However, Amazon has a fake review problem that is causing legitimate businesses to lose money while increasing the sale of unsafe or misleading products. Seeing that reviews are Amazon’s best feature, what does the company do to increase the trustworthiness of its reviews? Well, add a video review feature of course! Seeing is believing after all.

The video review feature is a win-win for Amazon. It’s a perfect way to combat the fake review problem, while also incentivizing influencers to encourage the sale of products on Amazon. Video reviews are a very persuasive marketing method. Taking product reviews in-house greatly increases the likelihood that people will purchase products on Amazon instead of a competitor.

Video product reviews are trusted, popular, and persuasive

In 2015, about 64% of consumers used a YouTube video to help them learn more about an electronic device before making a purchase. In 2018, Google searches for advice on which product to purchase doubled from the previous year. That same year, about 42% of internet users stated that product reviews from other consumers would increase their likelihood of purchasing a product.

In 2019, about 90% of consumers discovered new brands because of a YouTube video. About 50% of people bought electronic devices they’ve discovered on YouTube. And about 70% of consumers used online videos to help them learn more about a car part they intended to buy.

Influencers already create reviews for products they buy or sponsor. The majority of people looking for video reviews go to YouTube for product reviews, with about 55% of people even watching review videos while they are shopping in stores. Some people even use product review videos as a virtual shopping list, to make sure that they’ve gotten anything they need.

There are several other reasons consumers use product review videos:

  1. To see a product before they buy it or to see how others have used it
  2. To learn more about a product they have in mind
  3. To see credible or authentic reviews from others
  4. It helps people make a final decision on which brand’s product to purchase when deciding between similar items
  5. It gives consumers confidence that they’ve made the right purchase for their needs

With the popularity and influence of product review videos over the past several years, it’s no wonder why Amazon is including them in its arsenal. They’ve even made it easy for content creators to get started by not requiring unique product review videos. So influencers with videos on other platforms don’t have to increase their workload. This is the logical next step for the evolution of Amazon, especially since they are the most trusted written review source. For better or for worse.

The Great Profitability Potential of This Initiative

When Google purchased YouTube it wasn’t profitable for many years. A few reasons why are: they gave the majority of the ad revenue to YouTube Partners, kept adding new features to the site, and were handling approximately 20% of North America’s internet traffic at the time. However, now YouTube is a $15 billion asset. Amazon doesn’t have to worry about the same initial problems that Google faced with YouTube in the early years.

Amazon and its influencers have several potential ways to profit from this program. The first is by getting a percentage of the profits for products sold on the platform, which is how the program currently works. This concept isn’t much different from their classic affiliate marketer program.

However, I believe the bigger hidden potential is in using their ad network in conjunction with revenue from selling products. This isn’t a current feature of the program now, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be implemented in the future. If Amazon were to do this, then I could see this program becoming much more profitable for their influencers, which would undoubtedly grow its popularity.

This isn’t Amazon’s first attempt at video content

It would be extremely difficult to take on YouTube by just being another clone of it. What Amazon appears to be doing is more of a death by a thousand cuts. They know that they can’t take on the behemoth that is YouTube head-on, so instead, they are focusing on a specific online video niche: streaming.

The first form of this was with Amazon’s video streaming service, which officially became a feature of Prime in 2011. Then it came in the form of Twitch, an online streaming platform for gamers. Amazon acquired Twitch from Justin Kan in 2014.

Twitch has been very successful and has grown to have other categories of streamers, although gamers still dominate the platform. It is now the most popular streaming platform in the world. Because of its current success, it seems that Amazon wants to expand its streaming services to another video-based niche: influencer marketing.

How Twitch could influence aspects of the Amazon Influencer Program

Amazon could use a similar functionality that Twitch has for its partner program, where a streamer is able to create an ad break during a long stream. Ad breaks allow streamers to make a little extra money while also giving them a chance to take a short break. The ads on Twitch also play when a person joins the stream late. Maybe something similar can happen in this program as well.

Amazon could also give influencers the opportunity to get a more consistent paycheck, by allowing for single or monthly donations, similar to the format that Twitch currently uses. Twitch even has an option to use a portion of the money you pay for your prime membership as a monthly membership for a streamer, another great option that could be implemented for their influencers. A trusted reviewer is someone that some customers may be willing to financially support.

Is Amazon Creating a Streaming Empire?

Amazon has been growing its own streaming empire for years right under everyone’s noses. It has traditional media shows and partnerships with companies like HBO, Showtime, and it recently purchased MGM. It also has several of its own original series available to Prime members.

This is an area that YouTube tried to do, with YouTube Red and the creation of original premium content, but failed. Meanwhile, Amazon is now also dominating the gaming live stream department with Twitch. And now it looks like they are coming for another segment of the content creator world with its influencer program.

Amazon is slowly but surely becoming a direct threat to certain segments of YouTube’s revenue. By allowing influencers the choice between streaming or just uploading already created content, Amazon is giving many people an opportunity to expand their brand to people they might not have reached otherwise.

Future profitability potential

One major reason this program isn’t very profitable yet is that not many people know about it. If people don’t know about it, they won’t use it to help them decide on a purchase. In time, it could be a lucrative side-hustle. In the meantime, it seems that Amazon has nestled itself somewhere in between Netflix and YouTube quite comfortably.

This could be an opportunity for smaller influencers to build an audience on a platform with less competition. If this platform grows into the next big influencer money-maker, then early influencers will have a large following by that time, and really rake in the profits because they’ve already built up trust with consumers.

What do you think? Is this worth adding as a new income stream, or is the payout too small for the effort?

It might be worth it to get started in this program now, while not that many people are participating in it. This would give you the opportunity to build up a loyal audience that trusts you just in case this becomes the next big influencer money-maker. Besides, in the meanwhile, it’s a little extra money and publicity on another platform without much extra effort.

Honestly, you never know, maybe Amazon will prevail where other YouTube competitors have failed. Once more people become familiar with it, this could definitely rival YouTube when it comes to product review videos. However, I believe that it is extremely doubtful that Amazon will completely replace YouTube’s place online.

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