Friday, July 17, 2009

eBay Partner Network Affiliate Program... Is it for you?

eBay Partner Network Affiliate Program... Is it for you?

The eBay Partner Network affiliate program has gone through some major changes lately, and a lot of affiliates have been dropped. BANS affiliates have been hit especially hard by the tightening of affiliate performance standards. If you make money online using eBay’s affiliate program, or are planning to, you need to be aware of the programs new direction.

For a bit of history;
The eBay Partner Network, (let's call it ePN from here-on), is eBay’s affiliate program. It was initially administered through an affiliate portal called Commission Junction, but was taken 'in-house' by eBay in 2008. The affiliate fees were fairly generous, and a whole new affiliate market developed using what are called 'niche stores'.

Complete software programs, (heard of BANS?), and code widgets, (like phpbay pro) were developed that would allow you to open an online "eBay store". If someone clicked on an auction and bought something, you earned an affiliate commission from ePN. Acceptance to the program was not restrictive, and a lot of people were making good money from it. (and developing programs and code widgets for it)

The affiliate market isn't just 'little' guys like you and I, there are also huge affiliates, known as 3rd party providers, like Auctiva, and other companies that provided eBay services to us 'little' guys. Every service or product these companies provide to us has their affiliate codes inserted. ePN pays them just like it pays the individual affiliate. Are you thinking big money now?

ePN was always about quality traffic from it's affiliate referrals. The program had integrity, they didn’t accept affiliates from ‘sketchy or shady’ operations. No porn, violence, drug, or other non-upright’ type sites. But barring that, almost anyone could become an ePN affiliate.

So life was good, and then...

Jumping to the present time, or more precisely, around the beginning of 2009.

After a year of major upheaval relating to eBay auction sites policy changes regarding sellers, (surely you haven't missed the 'seller boycott' and tanking of eBay stock), the aftershock of the quake caused by those policy changes has rolled into, (or should I say, over), the affiliate market. eBay decided it needed a make-over.

ePN’s TOS, and their code of conduct, included some pretty strict requirements, and you also had to agree to eBay’s TOS too, so now that they have decided they only wanted “quality” traffic referrals, (remember the “new” eBay is all about the buyer’s experience), and maybe they had too many people making money from them, it was time to enforce the rules! Bam! You’re an affiliate today and a banned ex-affiliate 7 days from now.

They started with the big guys, the 3rd-party service providers, (think Auctiva) first. They decided to interpret the agreement rules in a way that excluded, or restricted the big 3rd -party providers. Facing this loss of income, Auctiva, rather than folding it’s tent and going away, has had to become a pay-for-service provider. They weren’t the only big provided shut out, just the most well known. Software and code providers for the market are also taking a hit. If the little guy can’t get into the Epn program, they don’t have a need for these products anymore.

And now we get to folks like you and I.

ePN has tightened their acceptance standards, it’s no longer a sure-thing to get in. They have even dropped some of the business models they used to accept, so now if your site doesn’t fit into a certain model, (there are 8 model categories actually), they won’t even accept your application. And if you are a current member, the terms are enforced so stridently that any number of things that you can’t easily control, like net bots or spiders, will get you kicked out because they can potentially cause false click impressions. Bam! You’re out.

The net is buzzing! Blogs and forums are full of people screaming with frustration. When ePN decides to ban you, you don’t get a warning, you just get an email telling you you have 7 days left and then, Good-bye. You don’t have a chance to fix violation-causing problems, you may not even know what TOS term you violated, and so far there doesn’t seem to be any kind of appeal or reinstatement process. When you’re out, you’re out. Good-bye, won’t see ya later.

Affiliates that had spent great effort to develop and promote their BANS stores, (either one, or hundreds), and were making an income from them, were getting their 7-day see-ya later emails, and they didn’t even know what they had done wrong. Other than the big 3rd-party providers, this is the group of affiliates that have been hit the hardest

Judging from the blog entries and forum posts, it appears that no one can get in touch with or talk to a real human, it seems ePN is run by ‘noreply email bots’, most banned ex-affiliates aren’t even sure why they are being shut-out, so they are only left with speculation.

Note: the ePN “good-bye” emails do include the reason for expulsion, but the wording is so convoluted and undirected, that most people can’t determine what they are saying they did wrong.

The gist of the responses from the banned folks boils down to two primary reasons for expulsion from the program;

1. you have generated to many suspect or false click through Impressions

2. your referral source does not provide the type of “quality” referrals ePN wishes to get
from it’s program participants.

*There is even a new sub-market popping up. People are writing code for, and offering services to, examine all your affiliate link and web site usage to protect you from the harm caused by the effects of net bots and spiders on your click impressions record. And new sites specifically for anti-ePN, banned affiliates are popping up like weeds.

So that’s the turmoil ePN is facing right now.

But, there is a but… and it’s a big one. The dust hasn’t settled yet.

So far, most of this is “appearances and speculation”. ePN doesn’t appear to be making any kind of PR effort to clarify it’s position, so the only buzz on the net is frustration and speculation from the banned ex-affiliates. Who, of course, are going to paint the worst picture of ePN and the best picture of themselves.

“I’m only a sweet old lady making a little money on the side, and that big bad ePN is taking it away”. Well, maybe you are and maybe you’re not. Maybe your side money is from affiliate links on your porn site.

Appearances count for a lot! And for now, it appears that ePN’s policy direction is leading it down the same road to purgatory that its parent, eBay, has been traveling on for the last 12-18 months.

We’ll see, time will tell, but my bet is that eBay is dragging a successful program into the same mire it put itself into with it seller-alienating, stock-killing policy changes of late 2007 and 2008.

I know I’ve painted a pretty negative picture of ePN, but there are still A LOT of people, (myself included), who are still making good money from eBay’s affiliate program.

And maybe it’s all sour grapes from poor performing affiliates. (or not)

I’m just telling you the pot is boiling and ePN doesn’t seem to know it’s cooking yet.

Either way, if you would like more information about ePN, or check out becoming an ePN affiliate, I’ve written a decent, (of course I would say that), how-to on ePN registration article on Hubpages. You can check it out at The basics to making money with the eBay Partner Network Affiliate program

G.A. Anderson

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Appletreedeals is an ebay seller and affiliate marketer and he
also uses Hubpages articles to send buyers to his listings.

see more at Gus' newest site:  checklists


All comments are welcome, but they will be moderated. Not for content, just for spam or profanity


Anonymous said...

Nice post, what are the 8 eBay model categories?? Thanks!

Pamela99 said...

This is a very informative article especially with all the new information. Thanks.

Pamela99 said...

Very good article with all the new information about Ebay. Thanks.

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