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Amazon pays users to create review videos of its products.

From side hustles to gig work, many people in this economy are working more than a 9-to-5 job. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January employment report, 5.1% of employees hold multiple jobs, up from 5% in January 2023.

One way some people make money on the side is through content creation.And as the digital economy grows, Amazon wants to leverage content creation by paying users. Create videos reviewing products on your site through the Amazon Influencer Program.

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal spoke with Washington Post reporter Caroline O’Donovan about these influencers. Below is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kai Ryssdal: So this is all official, real Amazon programs, right?

Caroline O’Donovan: That is correct. It’s called the “Amazon Influencer Program.”

Ryssdal: And they make money when people watch videos and buy products, right?

O’Donovan: that’s right. So, imagine you are shopping on Amazon. Let’s say you’re trying to decide which coffee maker to buy and want to click on a photo to see the picture. Will it fit under the counter overhang? And you end up watching the video. Maybe they thought it was a customer’s video, or maybe they thought it was a seller. In some cases, these are the people who receive commissions for creating videos. So if you watch a video and you think, “Okay, I’ll buy this,” and you buy it, somebody in Wichita or something might make he a dollar or he might make three dollars on your purchase.

Ryssdal: I have no entrepreneurial spirit, but even I recognize that the incentive behind these overwhelmingly positive reviews is with all the kits and scammers. Because if you give a negative review, no one will buy it and you won’t make any money. If you give positive reviews, people will buy and you will make money, right?

O’Donovan: I think a lot of these influencers were struggling with that. They don’t want to mislead people. Many of them are already involved in MLMs. They didn’t like pushing products on their friends. They are honorable, good people who didn’t want to feel like they were scamming people to make money. But like you said, if someone sends you a free product and you videotape it and they say, “That was trash,” you’re not making any money. She spoke to a woman who received a free hair dryer and discovered that her hair was being sucked into the dryer because there was a vent in the handle. she’s okay. She sent the hair dryer back, but she ended up not shooting the video. But then her company sent her another product to review. So, it’s a question like, should I give a negative review about a hair dryer so that other people don’t buy it? Or do you just sit in silence?

Ryssdal: I’m sure you’ve seen a billion of these. Has anyone tempted you to buy the product with your money or the Washington Post’s money?

O’Donovan: The Washington Post is in no way spending money on Amazon.com for me or anyone else. Let me just say that there was one outdoor reclining lounge chair that might solve a very specific problem that I’ve been tempted to have.

Ryssdal: oh. Okay. Well, then. That’s a positive thing. And like last time, Jeff Bezos owns Amazon and personally also owns the Washington Post, so he has to say he’s going to make it public. What happens when these people have nothing left to review at home?

O’Donovan: One of the first things that caught my attention was that some people go to the store, like when they go grocery shopping. They may scan products to know that the new thing they are purchasing is the product they are purchasing. You can review it. Or maybe you shop from Amazon’s best sellers page. But in reality, some people try to go beyond what is considered an honest review, such as when he booked an Airbnb just so he could review every product on Airbnb. I say review, but I think it’s an open question whether this is a review or just paid promotional content.

Ryssdal: Well, it’s like product placement. This is just the latest in a series of side hustles brought about by the digital economy, right? So it’s a natural extension.

O’Donovan: completely. I mean, a lot of the people who do this are also active on websites like Fiverr, where they create cheap digital content. So this is definitely part of a broader trend of people doing small jobs online, like getting paid very little to create small pieces of content. As part of that, Amazon has offered a variety of ways to make money on the site, including making deliveries in your own car or van and selling things. What I’m really interested in is the different ways that Amazon promotes itself. This allows users to follow suit and gain access to the scale of the platform.

Ryssdal: This is a little bit of a flip, but this is the Amazon economy and we’re all kind of living in it.

O’Donovan: I’m not saying you’re wrong.

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