|Above: an example of an MP3 ad an Amazon Associate might run.|
Amazon (AMZN) today is pulling out the small guns as it positions its new MP3 download store to grab market share from Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes. And Amazon has a lot of small guns.
In this case, “The small guns” refers to the Amazon.com Associates Program, one of the retailer’s lesser-known online marketing vehicles. Through Amazon Associates, bloggers and other online publishers can showcase Amazon products in an advertising window on their sites. In return, they earn a cut of the sale – usually 10 percent.
To give a boost to its MP3 store, though, Amazon today sent an e-mail to Associates members that sweetens the deal: Through the end of the year, Amazon will give a 20 percent cut to members who get people to download songs from the Amazon store.
If the doubled incentive proves popular with Amazon’s online publisher community, it could drive real results. Amazon has said it has more than 1 million users signed up for the Associates program, though it’s not clear how many of those users are active.
Amazon’s Associates gambit is the latest sign that competition to sell MP3 downloads is heating up. Amazon’s move comes just a day after Apple dropped the price of its own MP3 downloads to 99 cents from $1.29. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said Apple didn’t cut its MP3 download prices because of pressure from the likes of Amazon – but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Amazon and Apple, two of the biggest names in online commerce, are now going after the same pot of download dollars. (Of note: Microsoft (MSFT) also said earlier this month that it will begin selling unprotected MP3s in an online store later this year.)
Below, an excerpt from the message Amazon sent to Associates: