YouTube celebrities get a crack at Amazon's Influencer Program

Do you trust online influencers — even if they're getting a cut of what they're promoting? Or do you think online influencer and affiliate programs are designed more for people's convenience rather than making a quick buck?

It's no surprise that big YouTubers like Nikkie Tutorials and Jaclyn Hill get a bit of revenue from whatever beauty products they're pushing on their massive YouTube channels, with everything from affiliate codes from high-end brands like Sephora to smaller, indie companies like Colourpop and Morphe.

Now, Amazon has decided to throw its hat in the ring with its own Influencer Program, with its sights set not only social media celebs, but prominent YouTubers.

Last Thursday, Amazon quietly enabled a self-service tool for YouTube stars that lets them request to join the highly-vetted program, which had first launched into beta in late March… The idea with the program is to allow Amazon to better tap into social media's power to drive sales. (Tech Crunch)

Why would Amazon set up a program like this?

Long story short, online influencers and YouTubers with big followings mean big money for companies like Amazon and other companies that use Amazon to get their products out there.

Today's influencers regularly promote products they like in their online postings, including YouTube videos – often either as part of a brand relationship or as a means of generating income through affiliate sales. Amazon wants to now insert itself more directly into that action. (Tech Crunch)

How does it work?

Once you click Get Started, applicants link up and verify their social media accounts to see if they're eligible to join the program. Not all YouTubers will be approved — you'll need a certain (unknown) number of subscribers, and your channel must first be vetted by Amazon.

Which YouTubers will be involved?

Right off the hop, Youtube is saying that popular YouTube channels like What's Up Moms, Mark Cuban, And Felicia Day will be included; it's worth noting, however, that Amazon will not disclose how many beta participants the program has signed up to date.

So will YouTubers be making a ton of money off of this?

As it falls under the Amazon Affiliate Program, the Influencer Program is not necessarily offering higher commissions – it's simply making it easier to send customers to Amazon to shop the product recommendations. Key to this program is that vanity URL, which is meant to be something short and memorable. (Tech Crunch)

Amazon has also noted that it's "especially useful when promoted verbally or in an environment where linking is not possible" — like when a product is casually mentioned in a YouTube video.

What do you think?

Are you someone who's hesitant about trusting affiliate codes and online influencer's recommendations, or are you excited that this might be a brand new way to effortlessly shop your favorite YouTuber's favorite products?

As a friend of mine pointed out:

I know a lot of the bigger YouTubers will be happy. A lot of ad providers have been shying away from YouTube — it's why so many of them push Patreon — the revenue isn't the same as it used to. The other issue with this is, you could potentially link to dangerous products... Counterfeit electronics that don't meet safety measures? Fake makeup?

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Cella Lao Rousseau

Cella writes for iMore on social and photography. She's a true crime enthusiast, bestselling horror author, lipstick collector, buzzkill, and Sicilian. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @hellorousseau