What Happened to Amazon SiteStripe Images?

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On September 7, 2023, Amazon knifed most of their easy-access programmatic advertisements: native shopping ads, banners, mobile popovers, etc.

A few weeks later, Amazon emailed their affiliate partners, stating that SiteStrip text-image links would no longer be accessible after December 1, 2023, and would no longer work after December 31, 2023. Here’s my evidence below:

Look familiar?

Those are SiteStripe image advertisements that are broken, ugly, and littered on my website. I just manually removed them from the published page, which is what you’ll have to do with all of yours, too.

I’m an Amazon Affiliate myself. Have been for more than 2 years. Affiliate commissions from Amazon have never been my main source of blog income, but at one time, I was making about $500 a month in passive affiliate income. That pays paid for a nice annual vacation!

The alternative to SiteStrip is Amazon Product Advertising API. It’s nowhere near as user-friendly as SiteStrip. You need some developer/programming chops to effectively wield the tool. As a small-time blogger such as myself, I’ve decided it’s not worth the time to learn. I’m a part-time blogger, not a web developer.

Unfortunately, Amazon has a long history of cavalier treatment of its associates. That’s the benefit of being the world’s e-commerce monopoly: You can do what you want, and critics can go suck an egg.

In 2017, Amazon cut up their commission rates, and although people complained, they stuck with Bezos. In 2020, Amazon unleashed the “affiliate apocalypse” when they slashed many category rates from 8% to 3%. As Amazon’s stock soared during the pandemic, revenue for independent affiliates nose-dived. People vehemently cursed Amazon, but by and large, they stuck with Bezos. They made up for lower rates by aggressively pushing more products, building entire articles and even websites (looking at you, Wirecutter) around reviewing and promoting products sold on Amazon.com.

So while I’m shocked, I’m not surprised. Amazon doesn’t need my website. It generates plenty of organic traffic on its own. In the words of a salient Redditor, Amazon doesn’t seem to give a damn.

If you use WordPress, you’re in luck. Several paid plugins use the Amazon Product Advertising API to programmatically generate and dress up affiliate advertisements. These plug-ins include:

  • AAWP
  • Lasso
  • AmaLinkPro
  • AzonPress
  • AffiliaTable

I haven’t used any of these plugins. Out of curiosity, I checked out their pricing online. You can see some snippets below. As you can see, pricing for Amazon API integration across multiple websites becomes rather steep for small bloggers. If you’re not getting at least 50,000 monthly views, the math doesn’t seem very friendly.

AmaLinksPro Plug-In Pricing as of 1/5/2024
AffiliaTable Plug-In Pricing as of 1/5/2024
Lasso Plug-In Pricing as of 1/5/2024

So, what’s a guy to do?

Right now, I’m simply walking away from Amazon and their SiteStripe images. It may be a divorce; it may merely be some time apart. But this year has not been kind to me, unfortunately.

  • Elementor, the PageBuilder I used to build my blog site templates, is struggling to return decent Core Web Vital scores on mobile. My PageSpeed ratings are tanking, even though I’m trying all the beta improvements the Elementor team is throwing at the wall.
  • WordPress is really pushing the Gutenberg block editor and block themes. I’m trying out Neve FSE, a block theme. I love it, and it is fast, but it requires a LOT of front-end redesign compared to a “classic” theme like OceanWP.
  • Google Adsense will be moving to CPM rather than CPC. Most of my Adsense (mediation) revenue is CPC …
  • Grid.io, the service I used to build embedded interactive data charts and tables, decided to 10x their pricing.
  • ChatGPT, Jasper, and other AI tools are flooding the blogosphere with cleverly scraped content. It’s a brute-force attack against authentic experience.
  • A byproduct of the 2023 Google Helpful Content update is that programmatic display advertising seems to be under fire. If you have more than a few ads on your posts, particularly sticky, pop-up, or vignette advertisements, Google considers that a “poor user experience,” and you’ll get thrashed for it. Guess what my advertising partner, Ezoic, specializes in?

So I’m not sure what to do yet. In the case of Amazon, I just don’t see the point in chasing the wind. Surely there must be a better way to generate income than sending visitors to yet another greedy corporate monopoly? Do I really have to swallow whatever Amazon puts on my plate?

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