Creating iTunes Affiliate Links

Creating iTunes Affiliate Links

Every once in a while I’ll review an OS X or iOS app here and I, of course, post a link to the app. I finally got around to looking into the iTunes affiliate program and what I found wasn’t pretty:

Seriously, that example link is just ugly. That’s a LinkShare affiliate link, used by affiliates in the US, Canada or Japan; I imagine that the links for the affiliate programs used by Apple in other countries (TradeDoubler, DGM) are just as bad.

By the time I created my second link I decided there had to be a better way—not just because I didn’t want those links on my site, but because LinkShare’s search tool was so bad that I could not find the app I was wanting to promote. And I’ve seen others using affiliate links that point directly to iTunes, so I knew it was possible.

If you look at Apple’s Advanced Affiliate Linking instructions, it’s not immediately obvious how simpler links can be created. That’s because the instructions are buried under the section “Using Affiliate Links Inside Apps.”

If I may summarize the instructions for creating simple links, the first thing you do is get the iTunes URL for the item you’re promoting; for example, I wanted to promote Due for iOS:

You can always get the link for a product from iTunes on the desktop by selecting Copy Link from the menu next to the Buy Now/Download button or by selecting Copy Link from the action menu in the appropriate store’s app on iOS.’ The iTunes Link Maker is also useful for creating links.

You’ll probably see an “?mt=nn” appended to the end of the URL; although the number is an indicator of the media type, there’s some disagreement about it being necessary.

Next, append the partnerID to the URL; for LinkShare it’s ‘30’ and Apple’s instructions have their partnerID for their other programs:

Finally, you need to add your affiliate token. For LinkShare, generate an affiliate link from the affiliate program and look for the affiliate token within that. In the example at the top of this post you’re looking for the “id=yC4uoyBXOnA” (up to the ampersand) portion. Apple’s instructions indicate it’s somewhat easier to get the “affToken=xxxxxxx” token for DGM, but more difficult to get the “tduid=xxxxxxx” token for TradeDoubler.

Here’s what a complete LinkShare affiliate link will look like:

One last bit of trivia: there’s another key/value pair that you can add to the link that will cause the link to not just open a web browser, but then to open iTunes or, on iOS, the app for the appropriate store:

Update: I neglected to mention when I posted this yesterday that when you use simple links you lose the click tracking that the affiliate program provides. Don’t use simple links if you want to know how many users have clicked on the link and from where.