5 iTunes Affiliate Program Tips

by Brook Lenox on March 12, 2010

Did you know that Apple has an affiliate program for iTunes?

You could earn 5% when someone you refer to iTunes buys music, movies, apps, etc. 

If you’re an iPhone app developer, I’d encourage you to consider this as an additional source of revenue.


How it Works

Here is how it works:

  1. You sign up with Linkshare (the company that administers the program for Apple).
  2. Then you can apply to the iTunes program with Linkshare.
  3. Once you are accepted, you put affiliate links where ever users link from your website or app back to iTunes.
  4. You earn a 5% commission on anything the user purchases over the next 72 hours.

5 Tips

Here are 5 tips when using this program:

  1. Think before you act
  2. Run the #’s
  3. Use it for incremental revenue
  4. Use it for tracking
  5. Follow the rules

#1 – Think Before You Act

This isn’t for every app.  If you’ve got a small user base it won’t be worth your time. Perhaps you’ve got 100k free users and are already making pretty good revenue as they upgrade from free to paid. If so, this might be a nice additional source of revenue.

You’ll need a couple of things to make this worth your while:

  • A fairly large user base
  • An app that naturally leads people back to the App Store

If that’s not you, no need to read on!

#2 – Run the #’s

How many unique users do you have a month?

If it’s > 100k I think you should consider this. Lower than that, you may be disappointed by the revenue you generate.


Here are some example #’s:

So ask yourself: “Is this worth the effort?”

#3 – Use it for Incremental Revenue

I’ve sort of said this already, but it’s worth repeating. I don’t think there are many apps where this would be your primary source of revenue.

Use the iTunes affiliate program as an additional revenue source.

#4 – Use it for Tracking

With Linkshare’s signature program you can track down to the transaction level. You simply add a unique string to your Linkshare URL and you are good to go. This level of detail is great for learning which apps or areas within an app are best for generating affiliate revenue.

Some developer’s use it in place of Admob or Quattro’s conversion tracking.

To learn more, when you’re in your Linkshare account, just click on “help” in the upper right to get to the help center. Then type in “signature overview” into the search box in the upper right and you’ll see lots of information.

#5 Follow the Rules

You don’t like to be scammed, right? Well either does Apple. If you create an app that tricks people to click on things that take them back to iTunes, Apple will likely find out, and shut you down.

Here are things you want to avoid:

  • Leading users astray in any way (i.e. when they click on a button, land in iTunes, and say “what just happened?”)
  • Incentivizing users to click on your links
  • Placing banners too close to other buttons so that users accidentally click on your links

I suggest you create a “normal” user experience.  Make it known that you are linking people back to iTunes, and you’ll probably be fine.

In Conclusion

Think about this for your app(s) and let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments!