Today eBay announced the official opening of the eBay Partner Network (or EPN) which, in 30 days no less, will replace Commission Junction as the sole affiliate program for eBay.
For those casual users of the eBay affiliate program, the email this morning might come as a bit of a surprise but they have been working on this for some time, and promise to have a better reporting and functionality, although I have been very happy with Commission Junction for many years now.
The news didn’t go unnoticed by those in the blogging world where you could find several posts this morning like eBay Partner Network now live by Sue from Tamebay, eBay Dumps Commission Junction from Net Profits, a good discussion from Shoemoney in eBay Affiliate Program FINALLY Drops the CJ Dead Weight, and several others. For those working with the eBay affiliate program in one way or another, this is big news.
What is an Affiliate?
If you are unfamiliar with how affiliates work, it is a simple concept that has been around for quite some time. A company offers an affiliate partner (the user) an incentive of some kind, usually money, to promote their company. At this point almost all companies do this in one form or another, and even small ecommerce sites can setup affiliates for their customer. I am both an affiliate partner and an affiliate provider through one of our small ecommerce sites.
You can even see this on non-eccommerce site and large B&M companies. DirectTV has offered $50 to anyone who gets a friend to sign up for a new satellite TV account for a long time, this is just a simple affiliate offering that can be done by anyone who has a friend who needs their service.
How Much Does an Affiliate Pay?
This is always the question. How much can I actually make using something like this. The answer is just about as much as you are willing to put into building your affiliate network. For most of us, we don’t have a 40 hour work week we can devote to an affiliate program, so we use it where we can, when we can.
I have posted my most recent report below, so you can see it isn’t much. We current run about $100 a month on the eBay affiliate program but it doesn’t take much effort to produce results like that below. We have made as much as $500-$600 a month and as little as nothing. It all depends on how much work you want to put into the program.
If you have time, and minor programming skills, there are many people that make a nice living with all the various affiliate networks. Like anything else it can take quite a bit of time to initially set up, but once set up, it can run and produce some nice revenue without much effort or maintenance.
Using an Affiliate Program With eCommerce
It works very similar to an ad network like Google Adwords except without the ads. It can also be perceived by your customers and visitors as an unwelcome way to use them to receive a payment for something. So if you use it on an ecommerce site you should keep a few things in mind.
- Don’t let it take away from direct sales
- Don’t let it effect your customers perception of your good business practices
- Use it sparingly in areas of your website that need some filler
- Make sure you are familiar with the TOS of the network
- Have real expectations about revenue, and plan accordingly
- Know the effect on customer service and be willing to change
As with anything else you do on your website, make sure that the benefit you receive for using something is worth doing. I know many sites that use Google Adwords in various places and receive little or nothing in return. If you are making $1.00 a month on a banner ad on your header, perhaps a $25 ad sold to a supplier might be a better use of that space.
This section could be expanded to pages and pages as there are several issues involved with using an affiliate program and an ecommerce site you earn a living from, so proceed with an ounce of caution when adjusting a shopping cart platform. The customers that buy from your site daily are far more important than an affiliate program, so make sure they are happy first.
eBay’s Affiliate Program
I have been a part of this program for probably 5-8 years now, and they have always used Commission Junction. Thank goodness for us, the migration over to eBay’s platform will not be a huge expenditure of time, but it will take some re-coding and apparently, it needs to be done by May 1st.
There is already someone in the forums who seems to have been denied an account but it does seem to be operating on an automatic basis as far as the sign up process goes. I simply filled out the forms on the sign up sheet, received an activation email, then you will have to go back to the site and enter your payment information to be paid. I did try to move a few of my applications over and they were not completed on eBay’s end yet, they said… coming soon… so hopefully they will be fixed quickly. Then comes the fun part, moving all your affiliate links over to eBay program instead of Commission Junction.
The Google Effect
I thought I would mention this in passing as well. I few weeks ago, Google also announced a change in the way their advertisers can use their URL structure for ads. This was, I think, an attempt to keep affiliates that mislead customers but it had to have a huge effect on the affiliate programs in total.
Important Change to URL Policy Enforcement
Starting in April, display URLs for new ads will be required to match their destination / landing page URLs, without exception. Please adjust your URLs accordingly when creating new ads. -google
You can now no longer display a url and have the link url go to a different place. This technique was used for good purposes by many people but also used to trick people into thinking they were an official advertiser for that particular display url company.
It does look like the new EPN will be good once all the work is completed on eBay’s end, and on the providers end. The report functionality looks great, and the process seems to be a little more straight forward than before. It was always a semi-confusing process to a newbie, but many things are until you learn the in’s and out’s.
Have you moved your links over yet or joined the new EPN?