Amazon Pilots Visual, Mobile-Only Affiliate Product To Rival Skimlinks and VigLink

Amazon is testing a new service that could help it and its publishing partners drive more traffic (and, importantly, purchases) from customers on mobile devices. The pilot software is called ‘Mobile Popover’, and it is a mobile-only rival to top affiliate services Skimlinks and VigLink.

The service detects text links on a webpage to automatically surface an image-centric link — which includes details of price, description, ratings and shipping information — and tempt readers into purchasing the item. Clicking the banner takes a user to the mobile web version of Amazon’s store, from there they can open the page in the Amazon app if they have it installed on their device.

amazon mobile popover

In the event that an item is purchased, the publisher is rewarded with a cut of the purchase. We don’t yet have details of the commission percentage for Mobile Popover, although it is likely to be in line with Amazon’s existing affiliate program, which pays out between one and 10 percent of each purchase depending on the type of item bought.

The integration itself is a simple JavaScript additional that works for all pages. Amazon is trialling Mobile Popover with a limited group of initial partners at this point, but it looks like other partners can get involved via this link.

Mobile is a huge opportunity for online retailers, particularly when you look at Alibaba and businesses in China which did over 60 percent of their business from mobile devices on China’s largest e-commerce day.

For its part, Amazon recently revealed that “approaching” 60 percent of its Christmas 2014 holiday transactions came from mobile, but it is yet to fully transition its hugely successful business to small screens.

Indeed, last week it pulled its consumer-facing wallet app after less than a year in the market. A spokesperson told us that Amazon had “learned a great deal” from the project, but it’s fair to say it hadn’t gone as well as the company will have hoped.

Skimlinks and Viglink had a run-in with Amazon in Europe last August, when the U.S. giant stopped paying out affiliate money made from auto-tagging from webpages. Amazon’s own affiliate program includes text links, mobile banners, responsive banners and widgets — there’s also an option to integrate with third-party blogging platforms.

London-based Skimlinks was founded in 2006 and has raised over $9 million in funding to date. A newer entry to the market, four-year-old VigLink is based in San Francisco. It has raised over $27 million, including an $18 million Series C led by RRE Ventures that closed last summer.