Amazon Attempts To Measure The ROI Of Influencers — But Is It Destined To Fail?

Amazon has rolled out the beta version of an invite-only influencer program. While Amazon is no stranger to traditional affiliate marketing (where affiliates link to Amazon products via their own sites), this step towards embracing performance-based influencer marketing is certainly new.

The influencer beta program is “exclusively designed for social media influencers with large followings and a high frequency of posts with shoppable content.”

While the program is similar to Amazon’s affiliate program (the participants will be paid a commission for generated sales), the actual commission structure is still unknown at this time.

One major difference between Amazon’s traditional affiliate program and this new invite-only program is that influencers are now able to receive custom URLs where they can promote curated products of their choosing. This differs from the current methodology where affiliates simply link back to Amazon products. Amazon is hoping that providing its influencers with the ability to have a curated selection of products in one spot will make for a better browsing experience.

Amazon’s new influencer program makes sense considering the amount of money top brands have been offering those with large social followings. In order to scale and prove ROI, simply paying influencers a large sum of money upfront for a promotional post doesn’t make as much sense as it once did. By paying big-name social influencers the same way they pay affiliates (i.e. a commission and only when they generate a sale), Amazon is appearing to embrace performance-based tracking and payment for a subset of people that traditionally have not been held to this standard.

However, the question remains: will influencers get on board?

For the top influencers that earn thousands of dollars for a sponsored post or promotional message, the concept of getting a commission based on a generated sale might seem like a step down.

This doesn’t mean Amazon’s new influencer program will be a bust. It makes sense for a company to want to be able to track sales, analyze ROI, and set up performance-based payments. But from the influencers’ perspective — the big-name ones at least — there’s a lot of risk attached and other than a curated product page, there doesn’t seem to be enough of a draw for them to give up their power in this unique relationship.