Other how-tos

GeoRiot makes international iTunes & Amazon affiliation easy

Amazon and iTunes affiliation is big business – entire sites are devoted to reviewing products available in their stores, referring potential shoppers and attaching an affiliation cookie along the way that nets the referrer a small percentage of any sales subsequently made. I use affiliate links on this site when I review apps and it brings in about £120 a year which covers running costs and some beers and pizzas.

I take all the hard work out of it by using GeoRiot to automatically send my international visitors to the right store – and collect the referral from the correct affiliate program at the same time. If you’re a blogger using the iTunes and Amazon affiliate programs you should definitely check out what GeoRiot offers and start bringing in referrals from around the world for virtually no extra effort.

Plus, their CEO Jesse Lakes is the guy that answers the support emails – that’s very cool.

Amazon iTunes Affiliate GeoRiot
The GeoRiot home page
If you’re running a blog and making a little money on the side with referrals to iTunes and Amazon, you’ll probably have noticed that ‘out of the box’ those programs don’t make international affiliation too easy for you. Most countries not have not only their own store but their own affiliate program as well – which country’s affiliate link should you use to get the best referral income?

I solved that problem for myself by using an cool service called GeoRiot to automatically send my international readers to their local iTunes or Amazon store – and collect the referral from the correct affiliate program at the same time. Plus, their CEO Jesse Lakes is the guy that answers the support emails – that’s very cool.

The problem with iTunes & Amazon affiliation

There’s two catches with basic iTunes and Amazon affiliate links and they’re both down to the territorial nature of the stores and the affiliate programs they use. Firstly, basic clicks on a US store link from a UK-based visitor, for example, will either result in an error if the same product doesn’t exist in the UK store, or the visitor will be taken to the US store where they won’t be able to buy anything.

Secondly, even if your UK visitor manages to find and purchase the same product on their own store, your US affiliate link won’t carry over and you won’t get the referral for the sale. You can only link to one store but no matter which country you decide to use you’ll be missing out on referrals from international visitors to your site.

I ran into this wall pretty quickly when I started looking into the iTunes referral program, being new to affiliation. I started searching forums and that’s how I came across Georiot, which seemed custom made to solve the problem.

How it works

GeoRiot isn’t an affiliate program itself, it’s more like an automatic redirection service. You can get the nitty gritty about how it all works on their site, but it boils down to this:

  • sign up for the various affiliate programs around the world
  • connect your affiliate program accounts to your GeoRiot account
  • set up a ‘Traffic Source’ for each unique location you’ll use your affiliate links
  • create international links specific to your Traffic Sources by pasting Amazon or iTunes product URLs into the GeoRiot Link Generator tool

And that’s it. Their links determine where your reader is from, redirects them to their local store and adds your referral from the appropriate program. Then you sit back and track your international referrals in their Reports section, receiving your payouts as normal from the Affiliate Programs themselves.

Switching to PHG, the new iTunes Affiliate Program

The other awesome thing is how easy it’s making the big iTunes Affiliate Program switchover from Linkshare and DGM to PHG, the Performance Horizon Group, due to kick in on October 1st 2013. The change is largely a positive move as although terms are changing slightly, the percentage commission is increasing and it will consolidate six countries that used to have their own programs plus six entirely new ones into one single program.

However, it also means that referral links using Linkshare- and DGM-specific code need to be updated to the PHG format. For bloggers that aren’t already putting their affiliate links through GeoRiot this could be a monumental task but if you setup with their service now they’ve got some Javascript snippets on their site that can automate the process for you.

If you’re already using them, all you have to do is set up your new PHG iTunes Affiliate Account and enter the user token into your GeoRiot dashboard – that’s it. When a visitor clicks one of your existing links the redirection magic just swaps in the PHG code where it would previously have used the Linkshare or DGM code.

According to Jesse the goal with GeoRiot was to build a system that was future-proof and the way they’ve handled Apple’s switchover to PHG shows the value of that decision. The whole operation feels very user-focussed and friendly – if you’ve ever got a question no matter how n00b, drop them a line and it’s usually Jesse himself on the other end.

The final bonus is, there’s no monthly fees as such. Instead GeoRiot is funded by redirecting 15% of your traffic through their own affiliate code instead of yours. It’s not even a fraction of all your traffic – they allow you to select a territory from which they will never skim referrals. So if you’ve determined your most lucrative referrals come from US visitors you can make sure GeoRiot never skims from your US traffic.

Why are you still reading? Go and check them out!

Viglink – a back-up affiliation tool

itunes amazon affiliate links
The Viglink home page
Actually before you go, just a quick mention of Viglink. They’re another affiliation service but with a different twist. Instead of you going and signing up to hundreds of retail referral programs (not just Amazon and iTunes), you sign up to Viglink who have already joined all those programs on your behalf and grant you access to them.

You add some Viglink code to the head of your site (or use a WordPress plugin) and whenever you use a raw link to a store online that’s part of an affiliate program Viglink is a member of, your Viglink account accrues the commission and they pay you directly instead of the individual affiliate programs. The idea is you stop having to worry about any referral links at all and let the Viglink redirect handle it all for you, even if you didn’t realise the thing you linked was part of an affiliate program.

They also have a tool that will find references to affiliated stores or products in your content that you haven’t linked but could have done, and insert a link for you. I think that’s a bit spammy personally, but it might be a useful tool for your own site.

It’s a very handy service – one of several similar ones, such as Skimlinks – bolstered by the fact that currently only Viglink uses GeoRiot’s background magic to perform international redirects on their iTunes links. This means that unlike Skimlinks, Viglink gets access to all 51 programs and can translate store links between countries.

Because Viglink is collecting the commission for you, they make their money by taking a 25% cut of that commission when they pay out. Contrast that with GeoRiot which redirects 15% of your least frequent/lucrative traffic and takes the full commission – if any – from those referrals.

In conclusion

I only really write about iTunes apps, and occasionally something you might find on Amazon, so while Viglink has a far wider reach I prefer GeoRiot’s laser focus on those two stores. I also prefer their revenue model so as a rule I build iTunes and Amazon affiliate links with GeoRiot and leave Viglink to scoop up the rest.

Give them both a try today – I guarantee* you’ll be glad you did.

*guarantee not legally binding.

By Owen

I'm a Glasgow-born stills photographer and camera operator living and working in London, UK. As well as cameras I'm into writing, gaming, general geekery and beers by Brew Dog.

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