A Note about Affiliate Links

2018-08-06✪Permalink

Last week came the sad news that Apple is ending their affiliate programme for apps. If you weren’t aware, this was a scheme that publishers could sign up to to generate special links to apps in the App Store. If users clicked on the links and subsequently purchased an app, some of that money would go to the publisher. Usually, Apple takes 30% and developers get 70%. In the case of affiliate links, users pay exactly the same, but the money was instead split 7%, 23%, 70% between publisher, Apple, and developer respectively. This 7% has now gone down to 0%.

I do think it’s a shame that Apple has taken this decision. It’s going to affect smaller blogs and more specialised sites more than bigger ones with advertising contracts and membership programmes. I also think it sends a message, intentional or otherwise, that Apple doesn’t value third-party editorial about the App Store, when I think a lot of its most devoted customers feel quite differently. I can’t count the number of apps I have downloaded and paid for because they were features on sites like MacStories.

I used affiliate links on PolyMaths when linking to apps, and while this only ever generated a trivial amount of money, I did like the idea that the site’s revenue had a theoretical probability of being greater than zero. I don’t really want to have ads on the site because I don’t like the idea of not having complete control over what appears there, so what I’ve decided to do instead is add a single, hopefully fairly unobtrusive Amazon recommendation in the masthead of the site. This links to a recommendations page, where you can find a number of products I’ve bought from Amazon and found useful, along with some brief reviews. If you click on any of the links and purchase the item, the site gets a percentage of that. I hope you find these useful too.