Effective May 1, 2009, Amazon.com won’t be paying its North American “Amazon Associates” (affiliates) referral fees for purchases generated by direct paid search traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN. This appears to be a crack down on affiliate advertising that in essence competes with Amazon’s own advertising campaigns. It probably relates as well to Amazon’s continued efforts to fight trademark infringement by affiliates who use Amazon marks as keyword search terms. Many affiliates continue to violate the terms of the program by using trademarked terms like “Kindle” in their pay-per-click (PPC) search terms instead of “wireless reading device.”
Note that this change apparently is limited to U.S. and Canadian Amazon Associates. European and Japanese affiliates remain untouched for the moment. Another key detail — driving paid search traffic to your website and then having affiliate links that comply with Amazon’s affiliate operating agreement appears to be permitted (for now).
To learn more about these changes, you’ll want to go to FAQ: Paid Search Traffic and the Amazon Associates Program.