Fred Wilson has an interesting post about the undervalue of affiliate referral links in this age of declining banner ad conversions. Such links, emanating from a trusted source such as his VC blog, are priceless to an ecommerce fulfillment site like Amazon or Lenovo. As an Amazon affiliate for years through Reel-Time, I agree that the programs grossly undervalue the the link and need reform.
“comScore once did a panel-based survey of people who saw a banner ad. Very few of them actually clicked on the banner ad and transacted. But many who saw the banner ad eventually searched on the item they initially saw in the banner and transacted later. comScore has also observed that many products that are initially found and/or researched online end up being purchased offline. I wish I could find both pieces of comScore research. If I can find them, I'll come back and link to both (got one of them now).
“The point is that my blog post drove a lot of value to Amazon that is not totally captured by the 40 purchases of Gretchen's book or even the 118 transactions that were done by those visitors in the past two days. The value of that link, in my opinion, is significantly greater than $25.20 and as a result bloggers and other users of affiliate services are getting under compensated for the value they are providing.”