eBay Partner Network – Committed To Quality Or Only Saving Money?

eBay recently released a report entitled, The Coming Evolution in Affiliate Marketing: A Focus On Quality that as its title suggests, reports on how online businesses are starting to look for more quality traffic, leads and sales from their affiliates. While the report does offer some insight into what is producing a quality customer for online businesses, it is much more about the eBay Partner Network than anything else.

Affiliate marketing is no doubt going through a revolution. The days of garbage affiliate sites filled with banners from 30 different merchants making any money are a thing of the past because of much more diligence in search engines cleaning up their indexes. It is also becoming increasingly more difficult to become a member of certain affiliate networks such as EPN and some CPA networks because they either want to see an already developed and quality looking website actually owned by the applying affiliate or know that you have some experience generating revenue online. Also, it must be somewhat of a burden for businesses to keep a lot of dead weight in their affiliate programs, which is why you see companies such as eBay periodically purge their programs of non-producing affiliates.

In combing through volumes of data that eBay has gathered since bringing their affiliate program in house with EPN, they have come up with some interesting results. eBay is finding that incremental sales (sales that would not have happened if it were not for the affiliate) are often much higher from small affiliates that build quality content sites, than from large volume affiliates that send tons of traffic and produce a huge amount of sales. This tends to explain the often frustrating ACRU (new eBay sign-ups) payouts experienced by some eBay affiliates.

While I’m sure the data gathered by eBay in the last several months as outlined in the above mentioned report has been helpful in peering into the activities of affiliates and helped them better adjust their pricing structures in paying these affiliates, it is woefully incomplete and somewhat flawed. I say this for several reasons but the biggest is that they have not been running their affiliate program and gathering data long enough to really understand what’s going on.

The eBay Partner Network has only been in existence since April 2008 and all affiliates that had links going through Commission Junction had to have everything changed over to EPN by June 1, 2008 (Their original 30 day deadline was extended by an additional 30 days). Couple that with the fact that there was probably an additional month of wild swings in clicks due to spidering activity from search engines needing to be filtered out and assuming data gathering ended by Jan 30th to be able to write this report, and you have only 7 months of good clean information.

How a company like eBay can make such decisions about buying trends through affiliates and payouts for those affiliates when they haven’t even gathered complete data for an entire year, makes little sense. Not only that, it lacks long term thinking that could come back to hurt them. It is especially short sighted when you take into consideration the extraordinary changes in the US economy and on Wall Street starting back in October 2008. Traditional buying patterns may have changed or stopped completely since people have lost their jobs and much of their savings and their investments in the market. A simple example would be that people still shop for merchandise and click-through from affiliate sites to eBay, but are much less likely to buy. They are in effect, window shopping on the web.

The biggest problem many affiliates now have with eBay is with their payouts of new eBay sign-ups or ACRU’s. The way eBay reports these ACRU’s within the affiliate’s EPN interface is the thing that has most affiliates bugged. Affiliates don’t know how much they will be receiving for these new eBay members until the 10th of the following month that they are created in. This makes it difficult for the affiliate to keep track of their revenue actually earn from eBay. For example, in my January Affiliate Income Report I stated my earnings from eBay were $401.92, yet when I received the payout from EPN into my PayPal account towards the middle of February it was $70 less because my ACRU’s were adjusted down from $28 to $10 for each new sign-up.

What’s happening here is eBay is paying out anywhere from $1 to $50 per new member sign-up based on the lifetime value of each new member and they are determining that value by gathering anywhere from 10 to 40 days worth of data on a new member. How eBay makes this decision based on such little data is simply beyond me. Can you really determine what a new member is going to do for their lifetime with such a small slice of their activity? While they claim in the report that thousands of affiliates are receiving increased compensation because of the new pricing structure, there is certainly a buzz around the net on blogs and in forums, including their own, from affiliates that are receiving less compensation. They might want to read their own affiliate forum to see how many people are ticked about the new ACRU payouts. It is terribly unmotivating for affiliates to expect a certain payout at the end of the month only to have it decrease by a significant amount several days later.

While eBay supposedly benefits from crunching all their data and paying out affiliates based on the quality of their leads, they don’t share that data on how they determine the quality of the leads you send them. There is a report in your EPN interface that allows you to see individual campaign quality as long as you have enough ACRU’s to register in the report, but all my reports say I don’t have enough data determine my quality. Funny, somehow eBay determined the quality of my ACRU’s and it would be nice if they would share that data with affiliates so they can do something about it. Hey eBay, we can’t change what were doing if we don’t know what were doing.

I have to wonder if eBay is really committed to quality as the title of the report suggests or if they are just looking for a way to save money by paying out less to their affiliates.

You can check the eBay blog to get access to the downloadable pdf report.

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Can’t Get Into The eBay Affiliate Program, Try This

Can't get Into EPN?It seems like the powers that be at eBay are making it more and more difficult to get into the eBay Partner Network as of late. Even those that have substantial web sites are having their applications rejected. While it may certainly seem unfair to those just getting into affiliate marketing, since eBay can make you quite a bit of money, eBay is just trying to protect themselves and the quality of the traffic going to their auction sites.

Gone are the days when a new affiliate can join EPN, put up a few links on their blog or site and start making money from eBay. In the offline world when you want to buy a franchise, having the money to do so isn’t going to guarantee you get the MacDonald’s you’ve been wanting. Franchisers want their name, image and complete system protected because that’s what makes that particular system work. So why should you expect eBay or any other large online company to be any different?

With Google not looking favorably on thin affiliate sites, article directories such as EzineArticles.com not letting you link to BANS type site pages with auctions on them and other factors, it is evident that the affiliate game is changing. It has been some time coming, but a few years ago the search engines were clogged with sites that featured every affiliate banner imaginable, Adsense arbitrage sites and so much garbage it took some time to find the results you wanted.

The point is, eBay is obviously one of the players demanding affiliates clean up their act. You saw it several months ago when they let several affiliates go who were sending them junky traffic and you see it now in the way they are selectively letting new affiliates into their program. So what’s a new and potential eBay affiliate to do who wants to join up? I’ll list a few things below, but they won’t be quick and they won’t be easy, because that’s not what eBay wants any longer.

These tips are all speculative as I don’t have a hot-line to the head honchos at eBay, but some should be pretty obvious they would help you get into the program.

1. Join eBay as a seller first and sell something – I would be willing to bet that eBay sellers will have a much easier time getting into eBay’s affiliate program than will non sellers. If you have been through the motions of selling through the auction format, you obviously understand the process and that can only translate into a better affiliate business for yourself. If you own a restaurant and want a MacDonald’s franchise, you have a better chance of getting one than if you run a lawn maintenance business or something else unrelated to burgers and fries.

I probably sold 50 things on eBay before joining as an affiliate and I’ve only had 1 item that didn’t sell the whole time while being a member. I was pretty familiar with what people wanted and how the business of eBay worked before the first affiliate sale was made.

2. Join eBay as a seller in your country of origin – As an addition to point number one, it’s probably a good idea to already be an eBay seller and have sold things on the site in your nation.

3. You should own the website you submit to eBay – this should be a no brainer, but people do submit really nice sites to eBay that they don’t own hoping that this great site will better their chances of getting in. If you don’t think eBay can figure this out, you probably don’t deserve to be one of their affiliates.

4. Don’t submit a BANS site as your only url – If you think you’re going to get into eBay with a BANS site and nothing else, it isn’t going to happen. Build a substantial niche site first selling other products from merchants besides eBay and once you get accepted you can add a BANS store to your existing site.

5. Build Your BANS site with content before you submit it – you can always use BANS as your content management system and build a substantial site before you put a single auction page on it. If your niche is cell phones for example, why not put up 40 or 50 pages of info about different phones, review and accessories available before you set up the site with auctions? You can always use Adsense and other affiliate programs to monetize your site even if you never get accepted to eBay.

6. If you have a make money site and that’s your niche, forget it! – Make money online sites and blogs are done, the niche is saturated and the party is over. If your only reason for building a site is to make money by telling people how to make money, do something else. eBay doesn’t want people selling scammy ebooks any longer (they got rid of those categories) on their site and if your an affiliate thinking there’s an EPN business there, there isn’t. Really, build something else, it’s done.

7. Make sure your niche is product related – I doubt very seriously eBay will let you in their affiliate program if your business is all about service even if you get a million visitors a day. eBay is a product driven business and they want affiliates that understand that. You stand a much better chance of being accepted into the EPN program if you have that cell phone site mentioned earlier than you do if your specialty is teaching people to speak in public or doing teleseminars.

The bottom line is that whoever is approving new eBay Partners now is going to want to be impressed by what they see you’re doing. They obviously want affiliates that understand the business of eBay, not people who are going to give it a try and see what happens.

Yes, doing the things listed above will take a substantial amount of time for you as an affiliate if you aren’t already somewhere along in the game. If you have some of these things in place just adjust and tweak where necessary and resubmit your application at a later date. Even if you never get accepted to be an eBay Partner your business will still benefit. eBay isn’t the only deal in town, it should just be an addition and another stream of income in the whole scheme of things.

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Nintedo DS Lite Arrives From RevResponse

Nintendo DS Lite From RevResponseThe prizes are starting to come in from the Webmaster Talk contest and yesterday I received the Nintendo DS Lite from RevResponse. The DS Lite is a pretty cool little game console that you can use an included touch stylus on and has some very good graphics for something as small as it is. It also came bundled with 2 games including the Cartoon Network Racing game and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

I messed around with Cartoon Network Racing yesterday evening and kind of got into it, but I’m not really into games, so more than likely, I will probably give the Nintendo DS Lite away here on Affiliate Confession. I already have a contest going on so it won’t be for a few weeks. I almost hate to give it away, but I’m sure someone else would be more into it than me. This may be a contest where you have to do a little more than just leave a comment.

I also got a nice letter from Karen at RevResponse congratulating me for being one of the winners at the Webmaster Talk contest. Karen also pointed out that RevResponse has a great referral system when affiliates sign up under you, you can earn 20% of their commissions for the first 6 months. If you don’t know about RevResponse it’s a bit different than your traditional affiliate program. Believe it or not, you actually get paid from $2 to $20 per action for giving stuff away for free. Sounds like a pretty easy way to make money, doesn’t it?

I haven’t had time to take a real close look at how things work with RevResponse, but you basically can recommend free resources to your readers such as magazine subscriptions, white papers, podcasts, software trials and more and earn when someone takes an action. You can’t just had these things out on the street and get paid for it, you do have to find quality prospects that would really be interested in the stuff you are offering. However, I have read in some forums of people making more than $1,000 per month through RevResponse, so it definitely sounds like something that’s worth taking a serious look at.

You can get more info on RevResponse here.

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Make Money Online With These Money Makers

Make Money OnlineIf you haven’t noticed, there’s a new link at the top of Affiliate Confession leading to my Make Money Online page. This page covers nearly every affiliate program, affiliate network and even some individual systems I use to make money on the web. I don’t go into every individual affiliate program, because there are several in a few networks such as CJ. In fact, there are 27 different merchants I’m an affiliate of through CJ and at one time or another I’ve probably made a little money with roughly 75% of them.

I get several questions asking me what I do, or how I make money, or what affiliate programs I’m a part of, so to hopefully alleviate some of those questions I decided to put up the new page. I go into a little explanation of most of the programs I’m involved with and provide a link to that merchant. Unfortunately, one of my better merchants, TripAdvisor.com, no longer is accepting new affiliates. A couple of months ago they must have increased their payout because I started earning nearly double what I had previously earned without actually doing any more work or getting that much more traffic. Maybe they decided to pay their present affiliates more and not take on additional ones for right now.

It will be interesting to see what happens to my CJ income since eBay has switched over to the eBay Partner Network and now runs their own program. eBay was my biggest earner at Commission Junction to the tune of about 60% of my earnings there. But the EPN is looking real good at the present time and I’m seeing some very nice commissions reported so far. I also like that EPN is updating commissions early in the morning for the previous day rather than CJ taking 1 or 2 days at times for an update.

Anyway, check out the money makers page to see the merchants and affiliate programs that have been working for me. I’ll keep the page updated as I add new ones.

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Your ShoppingAds Unaffected By eBay Affiliate Program Change

ShoppingAdsI just got an email from support at ShoppingAds.com  and there’s great news for all ShoppingAds / AuctionAds affiliates, you won’t need to do anything to your widgets, code or links for the big eBay affiliate program changeover. Apparently everything will be switched over on their end so their affiliates can rest easy. Support said that there might be a slight reporting delay, but other than that you probably won’t notice anything.

I can’t tell you how happy that makes me because I have tons of links in USFreeAds.com classifieds, on blog posts and other web sites and I was dreading the switch. This should be quite reassuring for all eBay affiliates and stem the worldwide panic just a bit. If ShoppingAds will smoothly get through the eBay affiliate transition, then we as individuals shouldn’t have too much to worry about. All your present eBay affiliate links go through a redirected eBay domain anyway so I’m guessing all we will have to do is possibly change our affiliate codes in all of our links, but it might even be simpler than that and only require signing up for the eBay Partner Network. Of course, we’ll just have to wait and see.

I received a rather nasty comment just yesterday (which I deleted) making fun of BANS users in regards to the switchover from CJ to the eBay Partner Network. The writer thought Build A Niche Store would now be rendered useless. All I can do is laugh at that kind of thinking because the BANS developers have everything under control and will issue a quick fix probably sometime tomorrow after they sign up for the new eBay affiliate program. The fix shouldn’t consist of more than 2 or 3 files that will just need to be ftp’d to your BANS directories.

I’m kind of looking forward to the change and anxious to see how eBay is going to enhance their already incredible affiliate program. It’s nice to know at least ShoppingAds and BANS will require little to no effort to make the switch. Looking forward to tomorrow.

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