Comparing Genius Link and Amazon OneLink

The introduction of a new intelligent link translation tool to the industry always catches our attention and most of all, sparks our curiosity. We know that for you, the marketer, the burning question is, “Does it work?” As a company whose main purpose is to empower marketers to be the best that they can be, we also want to know “Does it work?” Because of this, we conducted our own testing of the Amazon Associate’s OneLink service to see how it compares to the Genius Link service.

Below are our findings and results of our testing, but we highly encourage anyone who is equally as curious to do their own testing. We’d love for you to join the conversation and share any results and findings from your own testing. As fellow marketers, we want to get your opinions on how the services compare and start a conversation about the pros and cons of each for our fellow peers in the industry.

We’re excited to share our findings with you and we look forward to hearing what you find through your own testing.

TL;DR

Our comparison of the two services looks at these major pieces with the following conclusions:

Translation – From our testing, Genius Link directs users to the correct product over twice as often than OneLink while focusing on minimizing negative user experiences.

Link Customization – At this point there is no way to correct the destination of a link using OneLink, where Genius Link allows for customizing the destinations to override their translation.

Coverage – OneLink only redirects shoppers from properly affiliated Amazon.com links to the UK and Canadian storefronts. Genius Link supports any link from any of the major 12 Amazon storefronts, as well as Amazon’s short link format, and will direct all international shoppers to their local storefront, with the exception of The Netherlands and Australia.

Implementation – The OneLink service can only be implemented via Javascript. Genius Link provides a Javascript option as well as a WordPress plugin, a link shortening tool, and a specialized link format for AMP sites.  

Service Customization – The Genius Link service offers a variety of ways to customize the service for your specific needs that OneLink doesn’t provide. This includes support for using multiple tracking IDs and marking links that shouldn’t be translated.

At a glance, here are the Pros / Cons of each service are as follows:

OneLink Pros

Free – OneLink service is completely free to its users.

Integrated into Amazon Associates – Using the OneLink service is not in violation of Amazon’s Operating Agreement (but neither is using Genius Link).

Basic / Easy Use – integration into the Amazon Associates programs and minimal functionality makes the OneLink feature fairly easy to setup and use.

OneLink Cons

Implementation via JS – Only available via a Javascript snippet. This excludes social media influencers, sites that are AMP compliant, and non-technical affiliate publishers.

Limited International Support – As of now, OneLink only supports two other countries – Canada and the UK. This severely limits the earning potential for affiliates with a large internationally dispersed audience.

Only Translates Amazon.com (Affiliate) Links – Currently the OneLink service is only available for Amazon.com Associates users who use Amazon.com links on their site (sites that use Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca links aren’t able to use OneLink).

Genius Link Pros

Higher Potential Conversions – Better translation and user experience plus full link customization and support for the full Amazon Associates ecosystem helps ensure top conversion rates.

More Flexibility for Publishers – Currently four different integration options and full support for Amazon links from their top 12 storefronts.

More Customization – A variety of options for reporting, tracking ID management, and link translation /management.

Genius Link Cons

Paid Service – Genius Link is a paid service starting at $9 / month.

3rd Party Service – Genius Link is not affiliated with the Amazon Associates program which means that links are not Amazon branded and not all CS reps are aware of our good standing.  

Complex – Genius Link does a lot more than just support the Amazon Associates program and as a result has lots of options.

Translation

Link “translation,” the process of being given one URL and finding the same product in a shopper’s local store, is the core piece of comparison between OneLink and the Genius Link service.

When done correctly three things happen: 1.) The international user is more easily able to move from intent (clicking the link) to conversion (sale), 2.) the affiliate publisher is able to start earning commissions internationally, and 3.) the conversion rate and earnings per click will go up for the affiliate publishers base program. When done incorrectly the affiliate publisher will alienate their international users, training them not to click on links, and this may also cause the affiliate publisher to see a decrease in their conversion rates.

To get some meaningful data we took the top 20 products from Amazon.com for four categories (ebooks, video games, electronics, and camera & photo) and sorted each translation result into one of the following categories:

  • Product Match – The correct product was found in the foreign storefront.
  • Product Match but not ideal – The correct product was found however it wasn’t available or was a more expensive version to the product.
  • Product in Search – The link translation resulted in a search and the intended product was included in the top eight products.
  • Return to Amazon.com – The customer was sent back to the original link.
  • No product in Search – The search yielded no relevant results.
  • Wrong Product – The incorrect product was found in the foreign storefront.

We found that the Genius Link algorithm found the correct product in the international storefront more than twice as often as OneLink.

Additionally, we found that OneLink provided a suboptimal user experience by sending customers to a poor search result or incorrect product one in three times vs. one in six times for Genius Link.

As of (July, 7, 2017)

Genius Link OneLink
Product Match 94 41
Product Match – Not ideal 0 4
Product in Search 21 61
Return to Amazon.com 18 1
No product in search 25 41
Wrong Product 2 12

The results of the test were also telling in the philosophy of each service. With Genius Link, we’ve always followed the guidance of “user experience before monetization.” This means that if we are not able to find the correct product in the international storefront and our search results do not yield any relevant products, we will return the customer to the original product.

Alternatively, it appears that OneLink focuses heavily on using search queries, even when they don’t include the correct product (40% of the time) and minimal error checking for sending shoppers to the wrong product (which happened 6X more often than Genius Link).

Looking beyond the scope of this blog, it’s important to note that of the handful of services that provide Amazon link translation, OneLink has come out of the gate with some impressive results. While our testing shows they still have a ways to go, they definitely get a hat tip from our side on making some tricky product matches.

In conclusion: Genius Link finds the correct product significantly more often and provides a better user experience more often than OneLink.

If you would like to recreate this test, we would be happy to help show you how we set up our test environment.

Link Customization

Programmatic link translation isn’t perfect, and while it is always improving, sometimes human intervention is necessary to build the perfect link.

This is one major advantage of Genius Link over OneLink.

With both services you can visually see the translation results of an Amazon.com link to the international storefronts.

Checking translation with the Amazon Associates OneLink service.

 

However, with Genius Link you can actually make adjustments to how the link functions and completely customize it for your audience. These customizations on the Genius Link platform are called “Advanced Targets.” If you aren’t happy with the translation results provided by our algorithms, you can add an Advanced Target rule to override exactly that behavior.

 

Using the new Genius Link visualizer for a universal Amazon link.

In Conclusion: The Genius Link service allows for customizing the performance of a link when the programmatic translation isn’t perfect. OneLink however, currently doesn’t provide an equivalent feature.

Coverage

There are two aspects of coverage to compare between OneLink and Genius Link:

  1. The number of Amazon storefronts that links will be translated for.
  2. The number of Amazon storefronts an international shopper may be directed to.

These compare how many publishers will be able to use a service (#1) and how much of their traffic will benefit from the service (#2).

From the affiliate publisher perspective, the OneLink platform is very specific in that it only works with Amazon.com links that have been correctly affiliated with one of the affiliate publisher’s specific tracking IDs. Amazon.com links on the publisher’s site that have not been properly affiliated will not be translated to the appropriate international storefront.

Alternatively, the Genius Link service accepts links from any of the 12 international Amazon storefronts that have an affiliate program (listed below), as well as the Amazon short domain – amzn.to. Further, Genius Link doesn’t require that an Amazon link be properly affiliated before it will translate it, which is an important factor for forums and other properties where user generated content created.

From the shopper’s perspective, the OneLink service only supports shoppers in Canada and the UK. Conversely, Genius Link, will redirect users from around the world to one of the 12 Amazon storefronts that have an Associates program. In addition, we have mappings that send shoppers from countries that don’t have a local Amazon storefront, to the storefront where they are most likely to buy from. For example, clicks from Ireland will get routed to Amazon.co.uk with Genius Link.

While Canada and the UK are the two largest English speaking countries that the one Onelink service supports, it currently neglects the rest of the long tail – something that major publishers and marketers know there is big value in.

In Conclusion: The Genius Link service is currently the only option for affiliate publishers using something besides Amazon.com links, and allows Associates to earn affiliate commissions from all of Amazon’s affiliate programs.

Implementation

Starting to take advantage of one of these link translation services can be tricky based on the options available and what your preferred “platform” is.

OneLink only works with a javascript snippet. This limits implementation to publishers who have control over their website and who’s audience allows javascript in their browsers. While this is likely the majority of publishers and shoppers it does leave out a few significant segments like, non-technical publishers who aren’t comfortable editing code, influencers who have built their communities on social media, and major publishers that operate AMP compliant sites.

Genius Link supports four separate implementation models:

  1. This includes a javascript snippet, very similar to how OneLink works, that is inserted into the website code.
  2. Genius Link can also be taken advantage of with the Amazon Link Engine WordPress plugin that is easily installed on WordPress based sites.
  3. A specialized link format is also available to publishers that want to build their intelligent links server side so that they are AMP compliant.
  4. Finally, short “geni.us” links are also available for influencers posting on social media or any publisher that wants additional control and reporting from their links.

In Conclusion: The OneLink service can currently only be implemented via Javascript. Genius Link provides a Javascript option as well as a WordPress plugin, a link shortening tool, and a specialized link format.

Service customizations

From our findings OneLink does not yet have any options to let you tweak settings and customize how it works.

Alternatively, Genius Link has been building different customizations for how the service is used for years. Some of the highlights for affiliate publishers include the following:

Groups / Overrides – While Amazon allows the use of different tracking IDs for more granular reporting, they only allow for one set of international tracking IDs to be used with OneLink. This makes it impossible to use a single Amazon Associates account  to manage multiple properties.

Genius Link on the other hand provides the ability to create independent “groups” then assign a tracking ID from each of the Amazon Associates programs. This allows a single Genius Link account to be used across multiple properties, or for more granular management across all of the Associates programs. Additional details about Groups / Overrides can be found in our Knowledge Base.

Amazon Overrides by Country – While using the Groups / Overrides feature in the Genius Link dashboard is the easiest way to manage lots of international tracking IDs at a group level, similar functionality can also be done at the link level. This has been important for our integrations with SkimLinks and other major networks and platforms. Additional details about Amazon Overrides by Country can be found in our Knowledge Base.

Don’t Translate – While Genius Link has a robust “black list” of Amazon.com links that shouldn’t be translated, it’s sometimes important to publishers to also specify links that should never be translated. We are finding that OneLink will try and translate any properly affiliated link type including those that don’t have an international equivalent, leading foreign shoppers to empty “404” pages. Additional details about flagging links not to be translated can be found in our Knowledge Base.

In Conclusion: The Genius Link service offers a variety of ways to customize the service for your specific needs that OneLink doesn’t provide. This includes support for using multiple tracking IDs and marking links that shouldn’t be translated.

Pros / Cons

As we’ve mentioned before in a recent blog post by our CEO, we think that the introduction of OneLink is a good thing for lots of affiliate marketers who are just getting started in the space. It can help as them grow and and will allow them to start to understand the value in optimizing for an international audience. However, when they’re ready to better monetize their international audience we’ll be ready to get to work for them with our more advanced tool. In our opinion, here are the pros and cons of each service:

OneLink Pros

Free – As it is directly integrated into the Amazon.com Associates program the OneLink service is free to it’s users. Compared to Genius Link, which starts at $9 / month, this cost savings can be significant in the early days.

Integrated into Amazon Associates – Besides being free, being integrated into the Amazon Associates program also means that using the OneLink service is not in violation of Amazon’s Operating Agreement, though neither is using Genius Link.

Basic / Easy Use – While some might argue this as a Con, we think the lack of additional functionality and integration into the Amazon Associates programs makes the OneLink feature fairly easy to setup and use. At least for those comfortable editing their site’s code to place the Javascript include.

OneLink Cons

Implementation via JS – Having the OneLink functionality only being available via a Javascript snippet unfortunately excludes some of the major players, including social media influencers, sites that are AMP compliant, and non-technical affiliate publishers.

Limited international support – Only supporting two other countries, Canada and the UK, severely limits the earning potential available for affiliates with a diverse international audience.

Only translates Amazon.com (affiliate) links – Currently the OneLink service is only available for Amazon.com Associates users who use Amazon.com links on their site. Sites that use Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca links are not able to use OneLink.

Genius Link Pros

Higher potential conversions – With better translation, a focus on the user experience, the ability to fully customize a link, and support for the full Amazon Associates ecosystem, Genius Link users are likely to see higher conversion rates.

More flexibility for publishers – With four different integration options and support for Amazon links from their top 12 storefronts, Genius Link works for all affiliate publishers – not just the small subset that OneLink supports.

More customization – Being built on top of an intelligent link management platform and having a wide range of top Amazon Publishers, has pushed Genius Link to build out many different options for reporting, tracking ID management, and link translation /management. Did you know you can do A/B split testing with Genius Link and customize your short links?

Genius Link Cons

Paid service – Genius Link is a paid service starting at $9 / month. For those just getting started, $9 might be all they earn for commissions in a month.

3rd Party Service – Genius Link is not affiliated with the Amazon Associates program which means that links are not Amazon branded and unfortunately, not all of Amazon’s Customer Service reps are aware of our good standing with the Associates Programs worldwide. This can cause confusion.  

Complex – Genius Link supports more than just the global Amazon affiliate landscape, in fact Amazon is currently one of three global retailers supported by Genius Link, and is used as an intelligent link management platform by many different types of marketers. As a result there are lots of different options and multiple ways to accomplish a goal with the service. Further, a full set up with the complete Amazon ecosystem requires multiple steps.

Conclusion

Quite simply, Genius Link is a premium link management service for advanced marketers and those with a large international audience.

OneLink is a simple service that works well for Associates with a limited international scope or experience.

We look forward to your questions, comments, and feedback.  From our findings, we feel it’s obvious that there is a lot more that OneLink can do to improve, but we’d love to hear what you think. Drop us a note and share your findings. Like we mentioned above, we want to get your opinions on how the services compare and start a conversation about the pros and cons of each for our fellow peers in the industry.

For now, we will continue on in our pursuit to make marketers better at their jobs and will continue to update this blog (or write subsequent versions as necessary) to give interested marketers the facts.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!
– Team Genius Link

Footnotes

The 12 Amazon storefronts with an affiliate program include: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com.mx, Amazon.com.br, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es, Amazon.it, Amazon.in, Amazon.co.jp, and Amazon.cn. Currently the Amazon.nl and Amazon.com.au storefronts do not have affiliate programs.  

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