Third Party Tracking Audit Update

We wanted to give you an update on the third party review of the eBay Partner Network tracking systems since we've mentioned it a few times on the blog and boards. We commissioned the audit when some of our affiliates last summer highlighted discrepancies between their monthly earnings when our program was in Commission Junction and the earnings they saw as they transitioned onto eBay Partner Network.  We took these reports seriously and did a significant amount of analysis ourselves.  In addition to our own analysis, we had an audit performed by ImServices Group Ltd., a leading provider of independent consulting and verification services, including process reviews, activity, and privacy audits for Web sites and other interactive media companies.  You can find out more information about ImServices here.

The ImServices audit was very comprehensive and included a number of different methodologies, including: creating and checking hundreds of individual tracking events (including clicks, Bids, BINs, and ACRUs), analyzing the eBay Partner Network databases to validate that the sample transactions are representative, reconciling data feeds and database contents from different parts of the tracking systems, and validating our system access controls and software QA procedures.  In addition to the physical data analysis and transaction checking, there were numerous interviews with engineers and team members as well as many documentation reviews to ensure that ImServices had a full understanding of the systems, data, and behavior.

ImServices concluded their audit this month and presented their findings.  They concluded with the following line, contained in their letter summarizing their findings:  "ImServices validated that conversion events are properly attributed to Publishers that generated leads as outlined in eBay’s Advertiser Terms and Conditions."  They confirmed our systems were working properly and able to track and properly attribute commissions to our publishers.

We're pleased with the findings of the audit, but just to be clear this is not a guarantee that from time to time new issues won’t pop up.  There have been several issues that we've addressed and issued makegoods for this year such as the ACRU tracking issue in May as well as the most recent issue from Nov 13th - Nov 17th.  The first happened and was addressed before this audit.  The second happened due to an upgrade to the system after this study was completed and has also been fixed.  We are going to continue to work hard to make sure these don’t happen, and that when they do we communicate with you our affiliates as quickly and transparently as possible.

There has been a lot of change in the eBay Affiliates Program with the launch of eBay Partner Network, the many changes on the eBay website itself this year, and most recently the challenging economic times.  We know from speaking to some of our largest affiliates and reading the boards that all of these factors have introduced some fluctuations in affiliate earnings so we felt that it was important to share the findings of the audit with you.

Thanks,

The eBay Partner Network Team

January Payment Date

Hello All, The eBay Partner Network team would like to let you know that the January payment is expected to be sent out a few days later than usual.  We’re now planning to issue payments on or around January 22nd. This exceptional delay is caused by the heavy holiday schedule.    Thank you for your hard work promoting this holiday season.

Sincerely,

The eBay Partner Network

Enhanced Reporting from December 15th

In our December 15th release, we have two updates to tell you about. The first update is to the reporting functionality and will dramatically increase the amount of data available to you.  We have enhanced the Campaign Report and the Tool/Creative Report to allow publishers to view daily numbers by line, as previously you could only view high level summary data. You will now be able to see how tools, creatives and campaigns perform on a daily basis.

Secondly, based on publisher feedback, we are now requesting payment information within the registration flow. By collecting payment information upfront, new publishers will be able to receive earnings upon completing registration.  This will solve the problem of forgetting to enter payment information before the end of the month, and thus causing delays.

We are continuing to bring innovation and enhancements to the platform and always welcome your feedback. 

  The eBay Partner Network Team

Hot Products this Holiday Season

It’s almost upon us -- the most wonderful time of year. As we’re unpacking holiday decorations, unraveling lights, rolling out the cookie dough or planning vacations, it’s hard to forget – only 22 shopping days left! The good news for eBay affiliates?  Savings and promotions rank highest among consumers’ priorities this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Also, a recent survey sponsored by ATG and conducted by the e-tailing group claims that in 2008 49 percent of holiday gift spending among US Internet users will occur online, compared with 44 percent in stores.What better place than eBay to find bargains on the perfect gifts for wives, husbands, friends, parents, kids and more? So grab a hot cocoa and your coziest slippers and start directing your online traffic over to eBay to shop.  Following are a few things savvy shoppers will be scouting for this holiday season. He’s making his list, he’s checking it twice … for the little ones on the “nice” list, consider posting the top 10 below:

1. Playskool Kota the Triceratops 2. High School Musical Dance Mat 3. Bratz Girls Really Rock set 4. Bakugan Battle Arena 5. Wild Planet Animal Scramble 6. Ultimate Wall-E 7. U-dance Game, Hasbro 8. Wonder Pets – This is Serious Ming Ming 9. Crayola Glow Station 10. Fur Real Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup

Also count on strong demand for Webkinz, Transformers, Star Wars, Pokemon, Superheroes, Hannah Montana items, Bratz and, as always, anything related to Disney Princesses.

As for the really big kids (i.e., the rest of us), the hottest gifts include tech gadgets and home entertainment items. Look for the following to be big sellers:  Nintendo Wii consoles, games and accessories (think Wii Fit and Guitar Hero for starters), although xBox 360 consoles  and BluRay DVD players are popular as well.  Shoppers searching for gifts for women can find anything from designer jewelry , to nearly endless choices of Bath & Body.  But don’t forget, women like gadgets too – try these: MP3 players,  iPhones , Bluetooth headsets and digital frames. Want to help shoppers find the ultimate memorable gift? Try linking to these categories: Entertainment Memorabilia Collectibles Sports Mem, Cards and Fan Shop

And not to be forgotten… shoppers heading out to white elephant parties during the holidays will appreciate quirky gifts like these: Star Wars-Darth Vader Stein/Coffee Mug Cool Cats Go Line Dancing CD Clock

Happy holidays!

Earn a 20% bonus and win a Nintendo Wii with eBay.co.uk

Updated - 28th November: December is nearly upon us, but remember that the eBay.co.uk Christmas promotion is still running, so even if you didn't quite hit your November targets, you've got another chance to earn a 20% Rev Share bonus in December.   

Original post:

Christmas is coming and it’s the busiest time of year for eBay.co.uk, as everyone rushes to buy their presents and stock up on festive goodies.  The eBay UK Affiliate team want to encourage you to send even more quality traffic to eBay.co.uk across this period, so we’re giving you the chance to earn a 20% bonus and you could even win a Nintendo Wii!

How to earn your 20% bonus

We have set targets based on the Winning Bid and BIN Revenue you generated for eBay.co.uk in September and if you beat these targets, you will earn a 20% Rev Share bonus, which will be paid to you in January. 

• Beat September Revenue £ amount by 35% in November = 20% RevShare bonus • Beat September Revenue £ amount by 15% in December = 20% RevShare bonus

Of course, these targets take into account that traffic to eBay.co.uk naturally increases in the run up to Christmas and don’t forget you’ll also receive commission on all the ACRUs you drive too!

Win a Nintendo Wii

Everyone who hits their targets and earns more than £100 in commissions in both November and December will be entered into a draw to win a Nintendo Wii.  We’ll even throw in a Wii Fit to help you work off the Christmas pudding!  The lucky winner will be notified in January. 

We’re looking forward to seeing you earn your bonuses in November and December and good luck with winning the Nintendo Wii!

Cian and Julia

The eBay Partner Network UK Team

PubCon 2008 Takeaways (1/3) – Driving Traffic to Your Websites

A few of us at eBay Partner Network attended the 2008 PubCon Conference Nov 11-14 in Las Vegas. If you haven’t attended one of their past conferences, PubCon sessions are designed to give tips to publishers on how to improve and drive traffic to their websites.  We found this year's PubCon to be especially interesting, with multiple sessions on content generation and management, driving traffic to your websites, and effective affiliate strategies.

We’re going to do a series of blog posts in the next couple of weeks with some of our biggest learnings that we thought might be helpful to you our affiliates.

In several sessions with titles like “SEO on a Shoestring Budget” and “Link Strategies”, we walked away with some interesting tips on interesting ways drive traffic to your sites that went beyond your typical formatting your website to get picked up by search engines.  Check these out:

  • Find out who’s linking to your competitors.  Use a tool like like Yahoo’s Site Explorer to see where other sites are getting their traffic.  See if you can also get links from those sites.
  • Take advantage of broken links to related sites.  Ask the original website to re-direct the link to you, or contact the destination site and ask them if they’ll re-direct to your pages.
  • Find brand mentions and ask for a link.  Do a search for your brand.  Find people that are talking about you but aren’t linking to you and see if they can add a link to you.
  • Write fresh content on popular subjects or products relevant to your website that will be picked up by search engines.  You can look up popular subjects on Technorati, Digg, Google Trends, and our own eBay Pulse.
  • Submit your website to directories.  Directories like DMOZ and BestOfTheWeb are still used by some users to navigate and also get indexed by search engines.  You can submit your site to them.  You may have to pay some of them to review your site, but if you meet their criteria several will add you for free.  Beware of fly-by-night directories as they typically get de-indexed by search engines
  • Put out press releases.  Agencies like PRWeb can help you get news and interesting developments that are fresh content and might get picked up by journalists or search engines themselves.  Insert links back to your site from these.  There was a good case study mentioned in the conference about Southwest Airlines.  They change fares all the time and put out special deals.  Journalists can’t/won’t keep up with every little bit of news, but they started to put out more direct press releases as part of a new PR strategy.  The more frequent releases got picked up by search engines and travel deals sites which gave www.southwest.com more inbound links.
  • Build a press hub on your site.  Make it easy for journalists or anyone who wants to write about and find out about you to get the latest news and information about your website or business (obviously this is more helpful the bigger you are and the likelier it is that people will write about you).
  • Submit your site for awards.  If you win them they can be valuable links in from reputable sources that will increase your SEO ranking, plus give you valuable inbound traffic from the award sites themselves.
  • Participate in Usenets and forums.  Used properly they can be qualified traffic producers, but always check the terms of service to see if putting any links to your site is acceptable.
  • Build a community for your site.  A community can help you generate fresh, on-going content for your site and in some cases help you get better SEO rankings.  But note that it takes significant time and effort to manage a constructive and productive one.
  • Leverage your local connections! Submit information about your website or your business to local newspapers and chambers of commerce.  Many are interested in talking about and highlighting businesses in their community and will put valuable links to your site.

Finally, remember to build websites for users, not search engines.  Always think – “what would I do if there were no search engines?".  This does not mean you just build a site without thinking about search engines.  You essentially build for two user agents: people and crawlers.

Vanessa Fox of Nine by Blue has an insightful way to think about it SEO and linking strategies: don’t try to build sites that try to game or optimize natural search ranking algorithms.  Algorithms will always change.  Instead, build your strategy based on what the algorithms are trying to accomplish.  That won’t change anytime soon.  Check out her March 19, 2008 and March 24, 2008 posts on link building, we found them really insightful.

You may already be using some or many of these ideas, but hope these spurred a few more thoughts you.  We’ll post more PubCon takeaways over the coming couple of weeks.

Good luck boosting traffic to your sites!

The eBay Partner Network Team

ACRU Issue from Nov 13-16 for All eBay Country Programs - Makegood Details

Hello,  We wanted to let you know that we experienced an issue with ACRU tracking this month.  An error was introduced recently during an upgrade in the way ACRUs are tabulated.  The issue affected stats from Nov 13 (when the upgrade rolled that caused the issue) to Nov 16 (when we put the fix in place).  Note that you wouldn’t have seen Nov 16 data until the following day (Nov 17). This issue also affected all eBay programs (countries). It did not affect Half.com.

We were able to recover the data, and will be able to calculate the right number of ACRUs and the correct quality tiers for each account and therefore attribute the right earnings to each of you at the end of the month. The magnitude of the issue was in the order of 30-40% of your ACRUs for those days, but this may vary by publisher.

We will issue a makegood at the end of the month to be paid out with the rest of your November commissions in December. However, please note that we will not be able to update the actual reports in the interface with the correct ACRU numbers. Therefore the numbers that you see in your reports for ACRUs this month will be incomplete for those 4 days worth of data. This will affect all reports, including your campaign quality report. Despite the missing numbers, the campaign quality report should still be a directional indicator of the quality of your traffic at a campaign level.

To see the amount of your makegood bonus, follow these steps.  First, login to your ePN account.  Then click on the Account Tab in the upper left of your screen.  Next, click on the Payment History link to see your payment history details.  Here you will see your past successful payments as well as a pending payment amount.  If you click the pending payment amount you can see a breakdown of your Earnings for the month as well as the makegood Bonus amount.  PLEASE NOTE that the bonus won’t be updated in the interface until late December. 

We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience. 

The eBay Partner Network Team

eBay US Program - Holiday Promotions and Creative

New this year, eBay.com will be offering special deals and promotions for all types of great Holiday gift items.  We've worked closely with some of our top most trusted sellers to offer some of the biggest sales ever on the site.  That's why we are encouraging you to promote these great limited time Holiday deals now, with our new creative that's sure to increase your click through rate and generate even higher commissions!  As of November 3rd we are offering holiday shoppers’ access to eBay’s Holiday Promotions which include Daily Deals and Bid from $1 Hot Items with Free Shipping.  These will all be aggregated on the www.eBay.com/deals page, where the new holiday banners we've created point too. 

Daily Deals

The Daily Deals will feature one popular item, each day, such as an Apple Ipod 80GB at a very low price until the quantities are sold out.  Our list of items we plan to offer for the Daily Deal is sure to get shoppers coming back to check what’s coming next!  Here are the key points on this promotion:

  • Deeply-discounted, Buy It Now listings with free shipping – limited quantities of one product featured every day for 45 days.
  • From November 3 to December 17 (a 45-day period), a unique product will be available each day on the site.
  • Items will include electronics, sporting goods, video game accessories, DVD movies, home and garden merchandise, and much more.
  • All items are fixed-price for one day, and quantities are limited.
  • The Daily Deal will be posted on the site every day at 12 pm PST.

Click on the banner or links below to get the html for the Daily Deal banners:

Other sizes offered:

 728x90

 468x60

 120x600

 125x125 

Bid from $1

The Bid from $1 will feature 100’s of great Holiday gifts with Free Shipping that start at $1 and do not have a minimum set price, so there will be big opportunities for Holiday shoppers to find great deals!  Here are the details: 

  • Auctions starting at $1 for new electronics offered with free shipping and no reserve.
  • From November 3 to December 17 (a 45-day period), thousands of the in-demand items will be available on eBay via auctions with starting bids at $1.
  • These items will have free shipping and no reserves.
  • All items are new, and include MP3 players, GPS devices, cameras, video game accessories, video games and more.

Other sizes offered:

728x90

468x60

120x600

125x125

Good luck with your holiday promotions this year!

The eBay Partner Network Team

Value Based Pricing Starting November 1st for All Publishers

Hello, For all publishers who joined prior to August 1st, we want to remind you that the new Value Based Pricing structure for ACRUs begins November 1st (all publishers that joined after August 1st have already been on this system since August 1st).  This means that all ACRUs that are generated during the months to come will be placed on a payout tier according to the value of the new active eBay users you send. 

The purpose of this new pricing is to pay publishers based on the expected lifetime value of the new users they send to eBay.  We base this on the new user’s purchases and the level of activity on the site.  It’s simple really, the more a new user is worth to eBay, the more we can and will compensate the publisher who brought us that user.  This is a fundamental change we are making to help focus more on quality and performance rather than just quantity for new user referrals.

Over the last few months we have been uploading quality scores every two weeks into the Campaign Quality Report, which represent the value of your ACRUs.  You can find your quality scores, which are factored into your final payout tier, in the reports tab by selecting “Campaign Quality” from the drop down menu.  For those of you who have not yet gotten a chance to run the report – it’s easy to do following these steps:

  1. Log into your account and click on the Reports Tab
  2. Select Report Type: By Campaign Quality
  3. Period – (for example once 12/15 is uploaded it will reflect your November ACRU payout tier)
  4. Program: US
  5. Actions: ACRU

At the very top of the report, under “Total”, you will see the total overall quality score for all of your traffic.  This is the score that will be used to calculate your ACRU payout for the US program and will be applied to all the ACRUs in your account (i.e. the score is applied at a publisher level, not at a campaign level).  The tiers translate into ACRU payment as follows:

  • Very High = $50 / ACRU
  • High = $40 / ACRU
  • Medium = $28 / ACRU
  • Low = $10 / ACRU
  • Very Low = $1 / ACRU

Note that campaign level data is estimated and may not match the payout tier for your overall account.  This is because your account-level tier is calculated using historical and other account-level factors not applied to campaign-level data.  Here are a few other points to note:

  • It takes us a few days after the close of a period to calculate quality scores.   For example, scores for October will not be uploaded until November 10th
  • Quality score is not based on volume, ie. higher volume does not mean a higher quality score
  • We’ll continue to update these quality reports every two weeks with updated scores, and they will allow you to see performance over time

Also note is that your reports for a current month will show our best estimate of your ACRU tier will be based on your last month’s data.  For example if you run a report on Nov 16th of your month to date metrics, your ACRU earnings will be calculated using your October tier.  Final ACRU tiers for November will be finalized and calculated by December 10th.   

You can find more information about this report in the help user manual under Reports->Summary Reporting->By Campaign Quality.

Many affiliates will be generating more earnings per ACRU following this pricing change.  However, those affiliates with low or very low quality may wish to optimize their promotions to achieve a higher payout tier.  We have talked about some of these methods in the past: http://www.ebaypartnernetworkblog.com/en/news/tips-for-sending-engaged-buyer-traffic-to-ebay-sites/

Thank you for your work in driving traffic to eBay.  We remain committed to working with you to continue to strengthen and make you successful in the eBay Partner Network. 

The eBay Partner Network Team

Take Steps to Protect Your Account Information

We would like to remind all of our affiliates that you should always take proactive security measures in order to protect your eBay Partner Network account information, as you would with any other online accounts such as your bank account.  It is important to know that security risks can occur and what steps you can take to protect yourself.  The following are good practices to help prevent security issues with your account:

  • Always verify that the URL in your browser displays www.ebaypartnernetwork.com in the domain, prior to entering your User ID and Password.
  • Only log into eBay Partner Network by typing the address into your address bar. Do not follow hyperlinks or search engine results to our webpage. If there is a hyperlink in any communications that claim to be from eBay Partner Network, cut and paste it into the Address bar instead of clicking on it.
  • Do not share you User ID and Password with anyone.
  • Create a strong Password that is not easy to guess.  Be sure to use different passwords for eBay Partner Network than you do for your email, bank accounts, or computer login. This is important to ensure security for all of your accounts.
  • We will never send you an email that asks for your personal information or login.  Be aware of phishing emails and spoof sites. Do not put your account password into any forms other than the sign in on the ebaypartnernetwork.com page.

If at any point you feel your account may have been compromised, or see that your personal information or payment details have changed without your knowledge, please contact customer service right away.

Sincerely,

The eBay Partner Network Team