Can You Trust Affiliates?

It's nice to see that my post about affiliate income has sparked some discussion. I've really enjoyed seeing what Bruce and Stew have to say on the topic. I have massive respect for Bruce... one of the titans of this hobby for sure. To know that he's out there watching my videos means a lot.

Some commenters have suggested that if a reviewer uses affiliate links, they can't be trusted any more. I don't agree with that--but not for the reason you probably think. The thing is: there are lots of ways that a reviewer can be biased without revealing it to you.

  • Sometimes a vendor will simply pay a reviewer for placement on their channel.
  • Sometimes a vendor will give a coupon code to a reviewer and then pay the reviewer a percentage on all sales using that code. (This is the same as an affiliate link, but less obvious to the viewer.)
  • Sometimes a vendor will agree to pay a reviewer a percentage of all sales within so many days of the video coming out. This would be more in a case where the vendor doesn't have a lot of marketing and the sales can be assumed to come from the review.

The bottom line is this: you can't know if a reviewer is being compensated for their review. If they want to hide it, they can. In this sense, affiliate links are MORE honest. At least they're up front. Ultimately what it comes down to is, either you trust a reviewer or you don't. Either you find their advice useful, or you don't. If you find their advice useful, then it doesn't matter whether they're getting compensated. In fact, it's all the better if they are. If they're doing a good job helping you find good products and avoid bad ones, that's a valuable service for which they deserve to be paid.