How Well-Meaning Publishers Sometimes Get Themselves into Trouble

man's foot about to slip on banana peel Like other affiliate networks, eBay Partner Network (ePN) has a set of rules and policies that govern how publishers are expected to work within our network.  We encourage publishers to promote eBay on their sites and send traffic to eBay but to do so in a spirit consistent with eBay’s values, avoiding any behavior that runs counter to those values.

Sometimes it’s the case that well-meaning publishers, particularly those new to Affiliate Marketing, may unintentionally get themselves into trouble.  Often these mistakes are due to a lack of familiarity with our rules.  So we thought it would be helpful to highlight a few of our policies which sometimes cause problems for publishers, in the hope that we may help particularly new publishers avoid trouble from the outset.  (These and other rules can be found in our policy documents, ePN’s Network Agreement, Terms & Conditions, and Code of Conduct).

Direct Linking 

The spirit of affiliate marketing, of course, is that publishers deliver more and higher-value traffic than what eBay would otherwise bring in.  One way of ensuring this value is by ensuring that publishers not send traffic from paid search results directly to eBay, but rather that publishers bring users to their site first.  For this reason, ePN prohibits publishers to send traffic directly to the eBay site from paid search results or other promotional placements.  Sending user traffic from promotional placements is ok, just so long that it links to the publisher’s site and not directly to eBay.

Linking from Seller Pages 

ePN encourages publishers to drive traffic to eBay that we consider new traffic, which excludes directing users who are already on eBay back to our site.  Sometimes, for example, publishers who are also eBay sellers will think of driving traffic from their own listings, which goes against this principal and rule.

Identifying Content with eBay

When publishers promote eBay products through placements on their site, they must make it clear that any photos or other promotions shown are in fact eBay listings, and that clicking through them will lead the user to eBay. In some markets, failure to do so could legally imply that the publisher has "adopted" the content and is therefore liable for it.

Special Business Models

ePN designates certain ways of driving traffic (including Loyalty/ Incentive, Downloadable Tools, Email/IM, and Sub-affiliate Networks) as Special Business Models.  (See April 15th blog post “Special Business Models Best Practices”).  Sometimes publishers forget that sending traffic to eBay with these business models requires ePN permission in advance.  So if you plan to send traffic to eBay using these methods, make sure to ask for approval by first going through our online application process.

Unacceptable Placements 

One of the seemingly straightforward areas where publishers sometimes get into trouble is through “Unacceptable Placements”.  ePN prohibits placements in connection with content we deem controversial, including adult content, firearms, or discriminatory content, to name a few examples.  Please see the ePN Code of Conduct for more examples and detail.

Sniping

Another Unacceptable Placement to avoid is anything associated with ‘sniping’, which involves any software or service that automatically places bids or makes Buy-It-Now purchases on behalf of eBay members.

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All that said, it’s worth reiterating things that are now allowed and even encouraged on ePN.

Relaxing Domain Ownership 

As noted in this blog in February, we now allow publishers to promote ePN from domains they do not own, notably social networking and blog sites.  (See the February 20th blog post “Understanding the Domain Validation Change”)  Since that time, many of our publishers have begun to promote eBay through third-party sites, and we encourage more to take advantage of these new channels.  Remember, however, that publishers are still responsible for complying with the terms of the third-party sites where you place Promotional Content (for example, by not promoting through sites where that is banned, such as www.craigslist.com).

Allowing URL Shorteners 

To help our publishers promote more easily via social sites, in February we also loosened our restrictions on url shorteners.  Previously something that was not allowed, today we allow publishers to use three url shorteners (by Twitter, Google, and bitly) to facilitate social site promotions.

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While maintaining certain principles of behavior is a necessary part of every functioning community and network, ePN will continue to strive to limit these to only rules that are necessary.  When we do, we’ll work to communicate them to our community in a way that is clear and transparent.