This is an incredible piece by David Zax on affiliate marketing in the online mattress sales world.
For me, the bottom line is, any site that makes money from affiliate links loses objective credibility in reviewing the products its making money linking to.
If I review mattresses and also make money linking you to various mattress companies, I can easily be influenced by one mattress company offering a bigger payout for each sale I send their way.
And, this is not small money: a number of these mattress review sites are making over a $1 million a year in affiliate payouts.
This is an incredible story, read until the end, it will blow your mind.
Tip: if you are doing research online on a product you want to buy and follow a link from a review site to, say, Amazon or the company selling the product, look closely at the URL in your browser and you can see the affiliate link clearly. If you want to support the reviewer (the linker), buy with that link, if not, change the link.
Note: This site does not take part in affiliate marketing. The link below to Jason Kottke’s site does not generate income for me or him, it is simply an acknowledgement that I read about the Fast Company article at his site and followed a link from his site to the actual article. I try to acknowledge sources as I can.