Friday, December 05, 2014
As mentioned in last week's "Hello from SparkGuy" email, a super-simple way you can help SparkPeople is to do your Amazon shopping using this link:
When you use this link, SparkPeople earns a commission for each product purchased as part of the Amazon Affiliates program.
I will also be putting together a list of "Products I Love". As I mentioned in the original email, just like I built a program that integrated many areas of life to help me overcome anxiety, I also made it something of a hobby to find great products that can help me or my family in some way, so it will be fun to share some of those with my extended SparkPeople family :).
Some members asked good questions on a message board about the details of this, so I have started putting together a FAQ that shows details. I'm also working on a fun idea that could be amazing if we get enough people doing this.
Here is the start of the FAQ:
As background, Amazon has had their affiliate program for at least 15 years (hard for me to believe it's been that long!). they view this as an important program for both their Affiliates, but even more importantly for their end customers, so they don't want to do anything with this program that would hurt the end-customer experience.
To answer your questions:
1) Yes, the way they are able to track purchases is because of the code embedded in the url -- that code let's them know that the purchase comes from SparkPeople.
2) ZERO personally identifiable information is passed to SparkPeople or any affiliates. So that means that we never get ANY information that we could connect to any individual. To be really clear, that means: no names, email addresses, credit cards, zilch.
3) The only information we see in a report is information about products sold -- date, number of items sold, etc. This makes sense for everyone because then an affiliate knows which types of products are selling or not selling even if the affiliate has no idea who is purchasing them.
4) The prices are the same whether someone comes to Amazon directly or via an affiliate link like the ones I shared. Amazon is able to do this because it's sort of like an advertising program where they don't have any advertising expenses related to the sale of these products. As a hypothetical example: Instead of buying a TV commercial on NBC, Amazon instead has this program with thousands of mostly smaller websites. If Amazon did run an ad on NBC, it would be somewhat similar to this program in that NBC would earn money for running the ad, but NBC would not get any personally identifiable information about the sales on Amazon even though these were NBC viewers. SparkPeople is probably one of the larger types of companies to participate in this. It's a pretty cool program overall.
5) We can't offer participants anything directly for doing this since we have no way to identify who they are as mentioned above. BUT, I am working on an idea related to this that could be fun if we get enough members participating in this. And it's a simple way to help cover some of our costs (it costs in the millions per year to run SparkPeople and I don't earn a salary or take any money out of the company, so this could be helpful).
6) Since this program has been around for at least a decade and a half, it's unlikely there will be any material changes that affect consumers. I can tell you the odds of Amazon ever sharing any personally-identifiable information (names, email, credit cards, etc.) with affiliates would be about as close to zero as you can get. That's because doing so would open Amazon up to data breaches if one of their affiliates didn't have strong security.
7) This program works with Amazon Prime (the Amazon program that allows you to get free shipping on many items for a relatively small annual fee). I love this program and use Amazon Prime through SparkPeople all the time.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks a bunch for your support -- I appreciate it!