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I know it's possible to turn any Amazon link into an affiliate link simply by appending your Associates tracking ID to the end of the Amazon URL, so this:

amazon.com/gp/product/B002RPCOH8/ 

becomes this:

amazon.com/gp/product/B002RPCOH8/?tag=stackexchangetest-20

But when I use the linkbuilder tool in the Amazon Associates interface, a lot of extra bits get added, like this:

amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002RPCOH8/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B002RPCOH8&linkCode=as2&tag=stackexchangetest-20&linkId=MHOTN4TUZRW7UNW7

What do these extra bits do? In particular, does the 'linkId' attribute affect reporting within the Amazon Associates interface?

I want to understand whether, for plain text links, I gain anything by using the Associates Interface instead of just creating links manually (like in my first example, above), which is much quicker.

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    The same question has been asked in Amazon's forums but is not adequately answered: forums.aws.amazon.com/thread.jspa?threadID=35728 – Stephen Ostermiller Dec 15 '14 at 11:45
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    Thanks @StephenOstermiller - at least it's good to know I'm unlikely to find an answer! I asked Amazon support to above question pretty much verbatim and received the (not very helpful) response "The extra bits on your link routes your IP address to Amazon's website and hence you can see the link as you've described. However, this'll not affect the payment on your account." – Jonathan Deamer Dec 15 '14 at 14:09
  • I just built a product link twice in a row using the exact same ASIN number, yet the 'linkId' number it generated was different. So I don't see how that would have anything to do with IP address since I generated it from the same IP address. – user24291 Nov 21 '17 at 6:03
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They look to me like they are marketing tags which capture a bunch of things about presentation of the product, e.g. Which version of the web page they showed you that 'inspired' you to link the product, the "often bought with" suggestions, etc. Sort of like bucket testing: a company that big is never not bucketing. It's all grist for the data-analysis mill, and Amazon is a big player in big data.

Also some completely superfluous URL keyword stuffing, partly because they think it'll give them Google link juice on those keywords, but also to help the human distinguish which product this link goes to, among many they may be pasting into their page/post.

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  • I just built a product link twice in a row using the exact same ASIN number, yet the 'linkId' number it generated was different. All the information was the same, but the 'linkId' changed for the same ASIN, so I don't think your theory that it relates to something which is static. – user24291 Nov 21 '17 at 6:05
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This is because they try to authenticate the affiliate link and for link building. I suggest that you make your affiliate URL tiny by simplifying it in your Amazon admin area.

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    Can you add more information about how you would use the Amazon admin area to do that? – Stephen Ostermiller Feb 23 '15 at 14:35
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    I'm not trying to save on the number of characters in the URL, just the time taken to use the Amazon admin interface. What do you mean by "authenticate" in this context? – Jonathan Deamer Feb 24 '15 at 13:26

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