Update: Since the publication of this post, Amazon's PR people have contacted me a number of times to request that we remove this coverage based on a draft press release they sent us last week. I said I would not remove the post or all references to Open Social (their Plan B) but that I would post a clarifying statement if they wanted to send me one. The following is what they sent.
"Since the publication of this post, an Amazon spokesperson contacted me to clarify that no announcement was made in regards to support for Open Social. The Amazon spokesperson went on to say that Social network developers have been using the Amazon Associates Web Service to merchandise Amazon products (and earn Associates commissions) for some time. She indicated that Amazon would continue to provide developers with tools that allow them to choose the platform that makes the most sense for them regardless of the Social networking site they are building on. She pointed out that Social network developers continue to use Amazon's infrastructure web services, Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2, to create and scale applications on popular Social networking sites."
And now, the original post in question...
Amazon is announcing tonight the addition of some of the hottest items in its catalog to its widely popular affiliate program, its support for OpenSocial and a new level of support for RSS.
Digital Assets Now For Sale
Specifically, the thousands of full-length movie downloads offered by the year-old Amazon Unbox and the millions of DRM-free MP3 songs in the new Amazon MP3 service will be purchasable through affiliate links anywhere on the web. There's a whole lot that you can buy and sell through affiliate links to Amazon, but until now digital assets like movies and DRM-free MP3s were not among them.
Unbox affiliate sales have been available for weeks and MP3s for a month. Affiliate program participants are receiving 20% commission on movies and up to 20% on MP3s during the initial introductory period.
Though there is already a thriving trade in physical goods using Amazon affiliate links, these digital assets are likely to be much hotter selling items.
Amazon Goes OpenSocial
Additionally, the company is announcing its support for the Google-led OpenSocial protocol. The company says that starting tomorrow all "applications developers build with the Amazon Associates Web Service will work on all social networking sites that use Open Social." I won't claim to understand the affiliate program well enough to know why OpenSocial based apps couldn't use Amazon affiliate links prior to now, but I do know that Amazon is offering its own Facebook app called MP3Download Sampler - which anyone can add to their profile pages to display their favorite songs and links to buy.
RSS Feeds Now Available
Finally, Amazon's support for RSS, which has frustrated affiliate program participants in the past, has been upgraded. Believe it or not, until now there was no RSS feed officially available for the best selling goods in any category. With this announcement, there will be and that will be another way for affiliates to keep their links timely.
I'm guessing that it's the opening of MP3 and Unbox to the affiliate program that will probably make the biggest impact. I'm not a big OpenSocial fan, though, so I may be underestimating the impact of that part of the announcement.