Links Without Borders

Recently, Apple's iTunes Affiliate Link Maker web app began generating links in the following format: "https://geo.itunes.apple.com." These geo links, as I call them, are a relatively new addition to iTunes affiliate linking that have the potential to significantly improve user experience. The next version of Blink: Better Affiliate Links will give customers the option to add a "geo" prefix to iTunes affiliate links, so I thought it would be worth explaining what geo links are and why you might want to use them.

iTunes media like music, movies and TV shows is restricted based on geography. Not only is some content available only in certain countries, but identical content that is available in multiple countries can be treated as though it is different content. Thus, if you are in the United States and click on an "itunes.apple.com" link for a music album that was generated in the United Kingdom iTunes store, you will get an "Item Not Available" error when the link redirects to iTunes. Geo.itunes.apple.com links address this issue by redirecting the user to equivalent content if it is available in their home store instead of displaying an "Item Not Available" error in iTunes.

For example, let's say I'm on Twitter and I find the following link:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/running-trax-summer-2015-ministry/id1000584515

The "gb" in that URL is the country code for the United Kingdom. If I'm signed into the US iTunes Store and click that link, a Safari summary page describing the album will load. If I click the "View in iTunes" button, iTunes will open and take me to the store, but I will get an "Item Not Available" error even though the identical album is also on the US store.

The "geo" prefix greatly improves the situation for users by eliminating the "Item Not Available" error and making it more likely that your links will generate affiliate revenue from users outside your home country. By adding "geo." before "itunes.apple.com" (https://geo.itunes.apple.com/gb/album/running-trax-summer-2015-ministry/id1000584515) I am taken to the US store even though the country code in the link is still "gb."

One downside to geo links and why they will be an option and not the default in Blink is that unlike itunes.apple.com links, geo links do not currently support the display of media artwork in social networks like Twitter. If you are a developer and would like to see artwork supported by geo links, feel free to duplicate the radar I filed with Apple.


About the Author: John Voorhees is the creator of Blink: Better Affiliate Links, an iOS affiliate linking app, which explains his unnatural obsession with affiliate linking.