Amazon has launched a new product discovery feature, Spark – a commerce-focused social network tool enables publishers and influencers to post images and videos and get paid for it by the online retailer.

Spark encourages users to share content such as photos and videos and follow others in a layout resembling a mix of Instagram and Pinterest. They can also tag products – if they are available to be purchased on Amazon – allowing consumers to jump straight in to buy them from the ‘shoppable’ images.

As reported by WSJ, Amazon’s spokeswoman confirmed that “invited publishers” – influencers and bloggers included – are paid for their content in a form of a flat fee for a specific amount of posts, rather than receive a commission. The move is aimed to let them take charge of which products they want to link to.

However, it’s likely that once content becomes self-sufficient, Amazon will shift Spark to a commission-based model, following the beta launch of its Amazon Associates influencer extension in April this year.

This allowed its select partners – operating on an invite-only basis – to earn a portion of sales revenue made as a result of traffic driven through Amazon’s unique vanity URLs.

Although not directly related to any of the previous tools and currently following a distinctly different compensation model, Spark’s mission is similar – to help its users discover new things they might want to buy in a more organic way.

With influencer marketing becoming a mainstay of digital marketing, Amazon’s extensive beta tests and careful launch of Spark – having pre-populated the network with invited partners before launch – shows the group is approaching the channel with a high degree of control and caution – up until now, not words always associated with the “wild west” influencer marketing industry.  

It will be interesting to watch how the e-commerce giant develops its work with the channel throughout the rest of 2017, and the eventual impact this will have on influencer marketing as a whole.

Amazon Spark is now available in the US through the Amazon mobile app for Prime members only.