If you're one of the few participating in Amazon's exclusive, invite-only "Vine" program, then you need to be aware that Amazon has just distributed emails to all "Vine Voices" stating a couple of important changes to the participation agreement. Here is a summary of the changes, from the email:
1) The ownership status of Vine products and the circumstances in which you may dispose of Vine products has been clarified. Ownership of Vine products supplied by Amazon or one of its subsidiaries (such as AmazonEncore books, AmazonCrossings books and Amazon Basics) transfers immediately to you upon receipt and you can dispose of them at your convenience, but you may not transfer ownership to another person at any time. In the case of products provided by other suppliers, the product supplier retains ownership for six months from the date of your review, after which you may keep or destroy the product, but again you may not transfer ownership to anyone else.
2) You may submit Vine reviews on other websites, but not to any online or offline channel that advertises or offers the Vine product for sale except in the form of a link to a website operated by Amazon or its affiliates.
Please review the updated Vine Voice Participation Agreement. You don't need to take any further action to continue participating in the Amazon Vine program. However, your continued participation implies acceptance of the updated agreement.
In other words, no more getting items for free and then flipping them on eBay. If the item sent to you comes from Amazon, you can get rid of it whenever (but not however) you want; however, if the item is sent to you via an alternate supplier, they maintain ownership for 6 months from the date of your review. After that, you can get rid of it whenever you want (but still not however you want). (Note, that's from the date of your review and not from the date it was shipped to you or that you received it.)
Additionally, Amazon wants Vine reviews posted such that they bring attention to products as sold only through their marketplace. This is understandable, considering Amazon is providing the avenue they are for companies to create awareness and generate buzz for yet-to-be-released products.
I've been a Vine member (A.K.A. a "Vine Voice") for almost 2 years now, and let me tell you; though books are the majority of what is offered to Vine members, there are some high-dollar items that get offered in the first of 2 monthly newsletters. I've seen items worth thousands of dollars (which are always unavailable to be shipped by the time I see the newsletter) being offered and I've always wondered just how many people have flipped such items once reviewed.
To an extreme-of-sorts, these two changes could potentially spell the beginning of the end of the Vine program as it currently exists if Amazon is unable to establish an improvement in the metrics they're hoping to influence. How they plan on gauging that, though, is the question. Better quality reviews, perhaps? A better ROI for companies making products available through Vine? Monitoring of online auction sites for the sales of not-yet-public products that are being made available in Vine? Requesting for items to actually be sent back after being reviewed?
For more information on Amazon's Vine Voice program, go here.
-Stephen Chapman SEO Whistleblower