Richard Wright is an eBay Programme Executive at RO EYE, the agency that supports eBay Partner Network. Rich works primarily with bringing on new publishers and ramping up existing ones, so is ideally placed to talk about the best way to set up your account for success.
It’s a new year, a new decade and to help you get off on the right foot we’ve put together some helpful tips and advice for you to get your eBay Partner Network account ship shape and ready for some serious activity throughout 2010. A well maintained account isn’t just good housekeeping, it can have an impact that is truly bankable. For example, if you have international traffic, are you earning commissions by making sure geo-targeting is implemented? If you are using only one campaign ID and drive traffic to eBay from multiple pages, can you tell which pages are dragging your overall EPC down? Hopefully those questions have given you enough food for thought to put an hour or so of your time into taking some of the following best practice steps:
eBay Partner Network application
If you haven’t already applied to eBay Partner Network then read this! Did you know that applications are subject to a manual review by a real human being? Put yourself in their shoes. The more information you provide such as your business model, traffic sources and specific URLs you intend to use, the more likely your application is to be accepted. Here are some key recommendations direct from the eBay team that you can use as a checklist:
- Submit an active phone number where you can be reached within 24 hours of your application – there may be a phone call to verify the accuracy.
- Be crystal clear as to exactly how eBay will be promoted in your description.
- Add all domains to your account that will be used to promote eBay – more on transparency later!
- If your primary business model is not listed in the options you must fill out a special business model application form - if not done, you may be required to pause campaigns until a review can be performed, or possibly have your account suspended.
- If you change your business model at a later date, always remember to change the business model within the eBay Partner Network interface. To do this, go into the Account tab and select Business Information. You may also need to submit a special business model application form.
- Ensure that all payment information, including the 1099 Form for US publishers, is accurate and complete and includes details on tax status where applicable – you don’t want those commissions to get held up!
Ensuring your URLs are transparent
As you may have gathered from the advice on applying for your eBay Partner Network account, eBay does require that all their publishers are transparent with their traffic sources, which includes passing though all referring URLs. This is a vital element of all eBay’s partnerships and underpins the whole ethos of rewarding publishers for the quality of traffic they send to eBay. As a result, the Network Quality team continually check publishers and they will inform you if a high percentage of your referring URLs are not visible. If there is not any improvement after this communication, you may be expired from the network. However, as we know that masking referring URLs can be preferable to publishers for a number of reasons, we have compiled some detailed advice on how to retain the masking, but pass through your URLs to eBay, which you can see on the blog Referring URL tips and tricks.
Why is this important? If you combine impression data with the number of clicks, you can track the CTR. In other words, tracking impressions will help you improve the quality of the traffic you send to eBay by showing you how well you are matching the ads to your users’ interests. You should serve at least one impression pixel per campaign, on every page that has eBay links. However, the best practice is to serve one impression pixel for every ad on every page, as this will allow you to get the most accurate data. Did you know that if you are using links created with the Link Generator prior to May 1st, the RSS Generator, Data Feeds, or API calls, you are probably not using an impression pixel? Thankfully some tools already include an impression pixel, such as Custom Banner, but the Impression Pixel Generator is so easy to use there really is no excuse for not including impression tracking in all your ads! To find it in the eBay Partner Network interface, simply click ‘Tools’, then click on the link in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and you can learn more about how to use it here.
Importance of separating campaign IDs
If you do one thing to your eBay Partner Network account today, split down your activity into campaigns. As your EPC under the QCP model is calculated at campaign level, it is easy to see the benefit of splitting your activity down into different campaigns, as then you can see the EPC for each segment of traffic that you are sending to eBay. There are a number of different ways to do this, including:
- By site if you have many of them
- By placement
- By tool
- By category
- By keyword group, if you are buying paid search traffic
It’s possibly the most important thing a publisher can do to help understand their performance and make informed decisions to optimize their activity. It is also recommended that each campaign generates a minimum of 50-100 clicks in order for the QCP algorithm to calculate a steady daily EPC. For more information on the importance of campaign ids, see the relevant section in the post on optimising for QCP
Importance of Custom IDs for PPC traffic
If you are using PPC to drive traffic to specific pages on your site, and want to improve ROI by knowing which keywords convert best, implementing custom ID tracking will be a very valuable use of your time. For example, you can pass through the exact search term in the Custom ID field, then download a Transaction Download Report from the Reports tab in the eBay Partner Network interface. This shows exactly which keywords converted into a revenue-generating transaction and you can use this data to optimise your SEM activity. Although this is probably the most common use, Custom IDs can in fact be used for anything that suits your needs.
Want to know which tools make you the most money? Whilst having an incorrect Tool ID will not break your tracking link, getting this right will enable you to use the Tool/Creative reports to understand what works best and make decisions to improve your performance. It also enables the eBay Partner Network team to improve the tools we offer to you.
As touched on at the start of this blog, implementing geo-targeting means that you will be better monetising any international traffic that you get to your site. It’s clear that sending the user to their local eBay site is preferable. In practice, an Australian user visiting a .co.uk site reviewing digital cameras will probably want to see items listed in Australia, not the UK. This improves user experience and conversions, and is likely to increase the EPC you receive. Also as eBay Partner Network tracking is program specific, there are distinct tracking codes that need to be present in the eBay Partner Network link to ensure that users are being sent to their local eBay site and you are receiving all the commission due for any resulting transactions. The first step is to check that you are signed up to all of the programs in the eBay Partner Network dashboard to ensure these are live. More detailed instructions are available in the blog article Implement Geo-targeting Today.
Security with online accounts should always be taken very seriously, and eBay Partner Network is no different. A hacked account could cost you dearly if fraudulent activity results, and of course a simple change of bank account details could see your hard earned commissions siphoned off to parts unknown. While most security measures are common sense, we have some good practices to help prevent security issues with your account on the blog Take Steps to Protect Your Account Information. Finally, it is essential that you keep all your user/contact information up to date and accurate in the eBay Partner Network dashboard. Being able to speak to someone on the phone or via e-mail is essential if any questions arise so that issues can be dealt with swiftly.