Amazon is extending its might in the world of ecommerce to the world of mobile apps. Today, Amazon announced that its popular and long-running Associates program is coming to apps for Android and its Kindle Fire tablet available in the Amazon Appstore and Google Play.

You might be unfamiliar with the Amazon Associates program. But there is a good chance you have run across it on the Web. Amazon Associates is a program where websites can advertise Amazon products by placing a unique URL into website text that links back to a product on Amazon. Every time a user clicks on that link and makes a purchase, the Associate gets paid. 

The Associates program is not new and has been shrouded in a bit of controversy in its time. As yet though, Amazon had not instituted Associates in its own Appstore. Today’s announcement changes that.

And it makes perfect sense. 

Extending Amazon Associates to apps opens up a new type of revenue stream for developers that was not available before. Making money with apps is not an easy proposition. Developers can institute a variety of banner or rich media ads into their apps, set up “in-app purchases” (based on the “freemium” model of mobile monetization) or offer subscriptions to their services.

Amazon calls the new program Mobile Associates and it is available as an application programming interface (API) for mobile developers in both Google Play and the Amazon Appstore.

How Amazon Mobile Associates Works

Amazon Mobile Associates works in three ways; “selling a single item from within an app or game, showcasing a category of goods, or bundling the purchase of physical goods with the purchase of digital goods,” according to Amazon’s press release. 

In essence, Amazon is extending its physical and digital world of goods into the world of Android apps. This is not just relegated to the Kindle Fire and the Amazon Appstore, but also apps available through the Android Google Play app store. 

The Mobile Associates program works pretty much like Amazon Associates. When a user clicks on a product link in an app, they are shown a dialog box with the product information and cost. If the user then makes a purchase, the Mobile Associate gets paid 6% of the sale price.

All the normal Amazon commerce features are present, such as free shipping with Amazon Prime and 1-Click purchasing. 

For developers, Amazon describes integration of the API as a fairly simple process:

Initialize the Mobile Associates API, and tell us what you’re selling–you can choose to supply a specific set of ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Number), search terms, or use the Amazon Product Advertising API to query a list of ASINs and product information.

The Unique Amazon Mobile Position

Mobile Associates is a no-brainer. It further moves features of the Web into the world of mobile. It is a logistical move from Amazon and an astute decision. On its surface, Mobile Associates is a bit of a ho-hum type of announcement.

Mobile Associates should not be overlooked as just another Amazon feature coming to apps. Essentially what Amazon has done is create a fourth type of monetization for app developers. That is not to be understated. In this burgeoning era of mobile, nobody has really figured out a sure-fire method for making money through apps. The top developers make money through sheer volume on banner ads and subscriptions and in-app payments. 

Amazon Associates has been available since 1996 and has long been a way for smaller publishers or individual blog owners to scratch out a few extra bucks. Bigger websites that use Amazon Associates can see significant revenue. It is a way to create another revenue stream that is not dependent on Google AdWords or other banner ad providers. 

Mobile Associates could be powerful, especially for the thousands of ecommerce apps on Android. Imagine a Pinterest user creating the ability to link one of their lists to the Amazon ecommerce platform. That could be good for both Pinterest and its app users and would take very little effort to institute in the app.