- Amazon is getting into the influencer marketing space with an Amazon Influencer Program, now in beta, TechCrunch reported. The program is similar to Amazon Affiliates but requires influencers to apply to be vetted and accepted by the company.
- Amazon didn't disclose the exact criteria for inclusion but suggested only influencers with a large number of followers will be considered. Fan engagement on posts across different social media platforms, quality of content and level of relevancy for Amazon are also metrics being accounted for.
- Influencers in the program will get a vanity URL at Amazon.com that provides visitors with a curated selection of products recommend by the influencer in another parallel to Amazon Affiliate linking, but with a more personal and exclusive touch.
Given that influencer marketing is heavily skewed toward recommending consumer products, Amazon is a natural fit for a program of its own. It sounds like the program also gives influencers more control over monetizing organic recommendations and content around things they actually like and use.
According to TechCrunch, Amazon has no input on product selection, vetting or providing free samples, and brands are not working directly through Amazon to reach its influencers, although they obviously might have separate standing agreements. As more major technology and digital advertising platforms like Amazon and Google set up marketplaces and programs for influencers, it will be interesting to see if smaller, independent parties early to capitalize on the now thriving space will survive or consolidate.
A heavier vetting process for influencers might address growing concerns that they do not always create and share brand-safe content. PewDiePie, one of YouTube's biggest influencers, was recently dropped from Disney's Maker Studios and Google's Preferred advertising program after it was discovered he made videos deemed anti-Semitic by the companies.
Despite these risks, influencer marketing continues to ramp up, per recent research from Bloglovin' which found 63% of surveyed marketing professionals with influencer strategies already in place are increasing budgets this year. Another 32% stated influencer campaigns were "essential" to their strategies, and 41% said they have seen more success in influencer campaigns than in more traditional advertising efforts.