Apple confirms reduced App Store affiliate commission rates apply to in-app purchases

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After sowing confusion by announcing, but seemingly not implementing, an iTunes Affiliate Program commission rate change in April, Apple on Sunday clarified that the updated terms only apply to in-app purchases.

Last month, Apple notified affiliate link program members that commissions for "all app and in-app content" would be reduced from 7 percent to 2.5 percent on May 1. Bloggers and other program members saw that date come and go without the promised change.

The situation was seemingly clarified last week when Apple's affiliate support team said the commission rate adjustment only applies to in-app purchases. On Sunday, Apple confirmed the statement in an update published to the iTunes Affiliate Resources website.

We'd like to clarify some changes being made to the Affiliate Program. Commissions for all iOS in-app purchases will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally, and all other content types (including music, movies, books, paid iOS apps and TV) will remain at the current 7%.

Under the iTunes Affiliate program, online publications and other outlets are able to generate revenue by including links to App Store apps. When readers click on an embedded link and end up buying the app, the originating site is able to claim a small percentage of the purchase price.

Link commissions do not impact a developer's cut of App Store sales, making the system an effective means of marketing.

Though Sunday's update contradicts last month's announcement, reducing in-app commissions — and not link conversions — is in line with changes made to the App Store revenue model last year. After years of garnishing a 30 percent cut of all App Store purchases, Apple introduced a revised schedule that deducts only 15 percent of proceeds generated by long-term subscribers, many of whom auto-renew to third-party services in-app.