I noticed Dave Taylor’s post the other day about Amazon’s Omakase Links Program.
Being a long time, but highly uninvolved, Amazon associate, I decided to check it out. I searched all over the place for my Amazon associates log-in information, and once I found it thanks to the wonder of X1, I logged in and went to work.
It took me about 5 minutes to add all the details and configure my Omakase links into a professional looking box that fit nicely in one of the outer columns of this page. I added the code to my blog template and, presto, there it was. I noticed no lag in page loading, and the featured items seemed to change nicely each time the page reloaded.
Then I noticed something strange. Almost all of the featured items were sex-related. There was a playboy video and a bunch of what looked and sounded like soft-core porn fiction. I clicked on a few of the links to make sure they led to Amazon, and they did.
This was the case even though when you configure your Amazon links for the first time, you have to agree not to post anything improper on the page where the links display.
Now I am no prude (far from it, actually), but I have never ordered anything even remotely similar to those items from Amazon and I have never once posted anything on this blog that might confuse some algorithm into thinking that those items are consistent with my readership.
In the interest of fairness, at least one blogger is satisfied with Omakase. Of course she gets the random welding books, while I get the ones with scantily clad women on the cover (which might be fun to read, but not to display on your blog).
After reloading the page a few times to confirm that those items were in permanent and frequent rotation in the featured items, I removed the Omakase code from the page.
Omakase is a neat idea in theory, but Amazon needs to figure out what is and what isn’t appropriate to display on a family-oriented, tech and music blog.
So long Omakase. I hardly knew you.