It's been said that 2008 is definitely the year of the Affiliate, but to be more precise, it's the year of the Amazon Associate. This year, we've seen a major growth in niche retail websites that specialize in a wide range of categories from Amazon's vast product catalog.
At first glance, most visitors hardly recognize that sites such as StockMyOffice.com , EcoFriendlyShoppingOnline.com or OnlineToolsandHardware.com are all websites designed and developed specifically for use with the Amazon Associates program. The website owner pays a small fee for the hosting and development of the design, then the they spend the next few months marketing the newly branding sites. With Amazon offering anywhere from 4-15% commissions for each item sold, website owners can quickly realize what making money while they sleep feels like.
Amazon Associates can earn any thing from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands per month. Large shopping comparison engines like Yahoo! Shopping, become.com, mysimon.com, pricegrabber.com, and others are rumored to be some of the highest volume associates. The Amazon Associates program has evolved from it's modest beginnings, associates can do anything from link to products, or consume vast amounts of xml product data via the Amazon Associates E-commerce Service.
Amazon recently completed a new Site Stripe feature and cleaner redesign of the Amazon Associates Central. They have essentially made it easier to link to various products and to access reporting. Amazon's vast number of Assocaites have helped Amazon stay #1 in online retail and become the original molding from which all other retail affiliate programs are based.
It will be interesting to watch what happens to the online retail market place as the old establishment of brick and motar retailers compete directly against affiliate marketers. I believe that affiliate marketing will allow a site like marketer branded site like WeKnowPhoto.com to compete against a brick and mortar brand ritzcamera.com. It will be interesting to say the least.