23rd July 2017

Amazon lures publishers to new social network

Media giant will pay for publishers to post on new e-commerce network Spark.


Amazon is paying publishers and social media “influencers” to post to Spark, the new commerce-oriented social network the company launched Tuesday.

Accessed through Amazon’s existing mobile apps, Spark is perhaps best described as a cross between Facebook-owned Instagram and social bookmarking site Pinterest. The service encourages users to share images and videos and to follow other people’s posts, with content displayed in an Instagram-like feed.

Spark users are also encouraged to tag products featured in their posts if they are available for sale via Amazon, and customers can easily tap through from Spark to purchase those products.

The service was publicly launched Tuesday, and was pre-populated with posts by various publishers and social media influencers, many of whom are being paid by Amazon to generate posts.

Interior design publisher Apartment Therapy had posted images of living spaces tagged with Ikea products for sale on Amazon, for example, while women’s lifestyle site PureWow had posted about makeup.

Various photographers and travel influencers popular on social networks such as Instagram have also posted to Spark with a “#sponsored” disclosure in recent days, many tagging high-end photography equipment for sale.

“Invited publishers including influencers and bloggers receive compensation from Amazon for posts to Spark,” an Amazon spokeswoman said.
Those publishers do not receive a commission on the products they may help to sell, but are instead being paid a flat fee for a specific number of posts. Publishers retain creative control, and are free to link to whichever products they choose, the spokeswoman said.

Amazon has for years run an affiliate program it calls “Amazon Associates”, through which partners can earn commission for driving customers to the ecommerce site. The program drives significant revenues for many online publishers who regularly include links to Amazon products in their content.

Industry observers suggest Amazon will likely move to a commission-based model to incentivize publishers to post to Spark in future, although the spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s plans.

Multiple publishers and influencers declined to comment on their financial relationships with Spark, citing non-disclosure agreements they have in place with Amazon.

But the move comes at a time when large digital platforms -- and Amazon in particular -- are competing more fiercely than ever to attract content from publishers and influencers.

Amazon is aggressively courting video producers with its Amazon Video Direct’ platform, for example, and is providing financial incentives in some instances, according to a Digiday report.

Meanwhile, Facebook is paying publishers, influencers and production companies to produce content for its latest video push, while rivals such as Snapchat, Google and Twitter also vie for the attention of content creators of various types.

Written by Jack Marshall, 19 July 2017, published on wsj.com. Read the full article here


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