In the summer of 2017, the Amazon Associates team launched its own link localization tool known as OneLink. Some surmise they were stirred to simulate the success of a savvy Seattle startup with stellar support staff. For some affiliate marketers, OneLink is a decent solution for redirecting your international shoppers along to a storefront that feels natural for them.
However, in our countless conversations with Creators and YouTubers, we’ve encountered some confusion around OneLink and, more specifically, the coverage it offers.
Taking this one step further, that means that OneLink doesn’t affect your affiliate links on social media platforms like YouTube (or Twitter). Even after you’ve configured OneLink on your website, the amzn.to links in your YouTube descriptions are just dumb ol’ affiliate links that send every click to the same Amazon storefront.
Unless they’re smart links.
How OneLink Works
Let’s start with what OneLink really is, and what it can do.
Once configured, whenever an international shopper clicks an amazon.com or amzn.to link on your site, OneLink attempts to redirect them to their own local Amazon storefront (though their list of supported countries omits half of their affiliate programs including India and Australia, among others).
Confirming that it’s installed and working properly can be a challenge, though! Amazon doesn’t offer any built-in testing methods to use on your page itself. They do provide a testing field on their dashboard where you can paste a URL to see the translation results for one country at a time, but the process is painfully slow. Testing translation results directly on your site requires the proper configuration of a VPN or proxy server.
To quickly recap:
Step two, the Amazon links on your site should now start working for some of your international clicks.
Using Amazon OneLink with YouTube: A Dramatisation
So relying on OneLink to localize your amzn.to links on YouTube usually plays out something like this:
[the following is a dramatization]
Well done! Now the amzn.to links on your website should be processed by OneLink, providing a localized shopping experience for some of your international visitors.
That wasn’t so bad! Now my Amazon links are global friendly, no matter where they are!
Post amzn.to links to YouTube
Your links are now posted and should get traffic. Sleep a good night’s sleep, thinking that all of your links on YouTube will now provide a localized shopping experience.
Oh, the riches I’m going to make! Think of all the euros, the rupees, the doubloons!
A few days later you check the Amazon Associates dashboard. But something’s not quite right…
It seems that all of your traffic from YouTube—which is almost impossible to distinguish from your website traffic, by the way*—is getting reported into your primary Amazon.com account. Clicks affiliated to your international IDs are only coming from your website, not YouTube.
But what about all that traffic from my viewers in Germany? Where are those rupees!? Aaaagh! I’ve been had! Curses! A pox on the house of OneLink!
[end of scene]
Sadly, OneLink just doesn’t work like that. The amzn.to links posted to your YouTube descriptions are not impacted by the oneTag JS you’ve just installed on your website. Your amzn.to links posted to YouTube behave as they always have, sending all traffic to just one of Amazon’s many storefronts. They don’t redirect at all.
* – It is possible to distinguish between your traffic sources by generating multiple Associate IDs inside the Associates Central dashboard and strictly using one ID per digital property you want to track.
But wait… There’s still hope!
If you’ve been relying on OneLink to localize your Amazon affiliate links on YouTube, this news may be discouraging. But take heart and don’t despair: there’s still a way to localize the affiliate links residing in your YouTube descriptions.
All you’ve got to do is put the localization power into the link itself!
One way to do that is with Geniuslink.
Geni.us links generated in our dashboard are powerfully customizable and can be added to your YouTube descriptions or into any Tweet. Once the link is in place, it’ll redirect all traffic to their locally appropriate destination, determined by our patented / best in class Translation Algorithm, or you. And you can always make changes to your link later from within our dashboard and have those updates reflected everywhere in real-time!
You can get started right away by building links on our dashboard and placing them in your video descriptions (but please read about affiliate disclaimers in the section below). Or, if you’ve already got hundreds of affiliate links on YouTube and would like some help migrating everything over to Geniuslink, drop us a line and ask about our YouTube Link Optimizer!
A Few Things to Note
It would be careless for us to suggest you should simply replace your amzn.to links on YouTube with geni.us links and call it a day. Doing that without following a few important rules enforced by Amazon (and the FTC!) could lead to your Associates account getting audited.
We’re invested in setting you up for success, so please take a moment to read through the following information about link disclaimers:
Affiliate Link Disclaimers
If your links no longer read “amzn.to”, then they’ll need some manner of ‘Amazon’ disclaimer nearby (either near each link, or right above your links). This is a requirement of Amazon’s and something we write about often on our blog.
While you’re adding in Amazon disclaimers, you’ll want to include an affiliate link disclaimer required by the FTC. The exact wording here is somewhat flexible, but it needs to convey to your audience that you could earn commissions from the link. We recommend ‘Paid Link’ or ‘Commissions Earned’. Unfortunately, ‘affiliate link’ doesn’t seem to be enough coverage.
If you’ve already got a ton of videos without disclaimers, you’re going to want to add these in programmatically. Thankfully there are at least two ways to do this, and a third option to circumvent these requirements entirely.
The Easiest Way to Add Disclaimers to Your Entire Channel
YouTube Studio has a ‘Bulk Update’ tool that can be used to add a ‘Amazon – Commissions Earned’ disclaimer before or after each link in your description.
And if you’ve already got a TubeBuddy subscription, their Bulk Find/Append/Replace tool is perfect for this task and provides a lot more control than the YouTube Studio route.
Here’s an example of geni.us links in a YouTube description that meets the requirements of Amazon and the FTC.
Choice Pages Include Disclaimers
Alternatively, you could just swap out your YouTube affiliate links for Choice Pages, which fulfill disclaimer requirements for Amazon and the FTC all in one fell swoop! You may even find that you earn more commissions by providing another purchasing option. The MondoBytes channel certainly did!
TL;DR: OneLink may have its uses, but YouTube isn’t one of them. OneLink will not localize your Amazon affiliate links on YouTube or any other social media site. Amazon’s OneLink only localizes the amzn.to links on a website where you can edit the code, much like our own programmatic solutions (which radically predate OneLink!).
Geniuslink offers more benefits than Amazon’s OneLink. Here’s three quick examples of that: our service informs you when a product you’re linking to goes out of stock, we provide stronger translation results, and we redirect traffic to more of Amazon’s storefronts!