Go Green with Eco-Friendly Products in 2010

With a new year quickly approaching, for many a smart, responsible and admirable New Year’s resolution is to find ways to ‘Go Green’ and become more environmentally friendly in 2010. eBay is passionate about constantly finding ways to be more eco-friendly, and we want to share with you some of the things we’re doing and offer ideas on what you can do to make greener choices and promote eco-friendly products.

The Green Team

Did you know that you can take things that you already own and repurpose them into green items? You can join eBay’s Green Team and get free access to tons of information on how to do just that. You can also learn ways to Buy Green, Sell Green and get inspiration on how to Think Green.

eBay Inc.’s Green Actions

Take a look at some of eBay’s Green initiatives. Since 1998, an estimated $100 billion in goods have been reused, made possible only by the eBay community. eBay is committed to a Green campus, and with Green buildings, energy efficiency, alternative power and more, since 2007 eBay has been a carbon neutral company. In 2009, four of eBay’s buildings won Emerald Awards, which are BOMA’s green/sustainability awards which celebrate high performance, energy efficient buildings.

How You Can Promote Eco-Friendly Products

You can find great information about eBay’s WorldofGood.com in this earlier post. WorldofGood.com even offers an Eco Positive center, where you can find nearly 20,000 products from a wide variety of categories.

New WorldofGood.com Widget

We are very excited to announce our newly launched WorldofGood.com Widget! Once logged-in to your eBay Partner Network account, click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Widgets’ to access this new widget. Implementing the WorldofGood.com Widget will make your pages more dynamic and rich by displaying beautiful handmade products from around the world.

Let Our Tools Do the Work

With our Tools, you can find sellers on eBay that only offer eco-friendly products and promote them. To easily highlight specific sellers, use our Widgets and API to select individual Seller IDs.

Utilize search terms in our Widgets and API to highlight the precise items that you want to show on your site. For example, enter “eco-friendly diaper bag” or “eco-friendly shoes” and see all of the corresponding items that return.

Finally, use the Link Generator to create links to custom URLs where the products that you want to promote on your site(s) reside.

Our tools offer a large variety of ways to highlight and promote eco-friendly items on eBay, so use them to your advantage.

If you have additional ideas on how to ‘Go Green’ with eBay Partner Network, we welcome you to share them with us!

To your continued success,

Amanda Lucas, Affiliate Program Manager at PartnerCentric

10 Tips to Improve Your Social Media Strategy

Although eBay Partner Network does not allow our partners to directly promote eBay through social media arenas, we want to make sure you know that you can drive traffic to your own website(s) through appropriate social media strategies. Today it is easier, and more important, than ever to implement a few simple social media tactics to increase traffic to your site(s). Why should you build a social media strategy? It’s an easy way to promote your website to as many people as you can – and best of all, it’s free!

1. Add social bookmark links to your most important web pages and/or blog posts.

2. Build relationships by participating in existing social networks.

3. Do you send out regular newsletters? If you don’t already have one, incorporate a blog into your site where your visitors can comment and interact with you.

4. Try adding a series of video or audio podcasts to your site. This is a great way to implement or improve product reviews.

5. Give a Twitter Party a try!

6. Offer an RSS subscription and an e-mail alternative, the more ways that you can distribute your content, the better.

7. Review your inbound links, if you have incoming links from blogs you can build relationship with those bloggers by making relevant comments on their posts.

8. Respond personally to people that follow you through social media. Do not send out auto messages with your sales pitch.

9. Make all of your social media outlets interactive. Encourage people to respond to your messages and respond to other people’s messages as well. You want to be approachable and trustworthy.

10. Tie your blog to your Twitter account so that your blog posts are automatically updated into Twitter, in addition to your unique Tweets.

Always remember, social media is not simply a place to advertise and in fact advertising can be perceived negatively. Instead it’s often better to aim to be a helpful and interesting part of the community to make the most gains for your efforts! Have you implemented a successful social media technique that you would like to share? Feel free to leave a comment!

To your continued success,

Amanda Lucas, Affiliate Program Manager at PartnerCentric

Monetize Your Blog with eBay Partner Network

We know that it takes a lot of effort and creativity to compose unique and insightful articles to build a valuable blog today.  Once you are in a stride and producing quality content on a regular basis, you might be asking yourself how you can finally turn your hard work into revenue.  Whether your blog is entirely focused on one specific niche, or you have a wider variety of topics that you cover, it is crucial that you serve advertisements that are relevant to your content.  Driving traffic

In order to monetize, you must have traffic!  You’ve found yourself at a steady pace producing new persuasive content on your blog on a weekly basis and the next step is to grow your audience.  There are many ways to get eyes on your content, but you want to make sure you’re getting the right eyes for what you have to offer.  Taking the time to learn and implement good search engine optimization tactics is crucial to the longevity of your blog.  In addition to SEO, you can implement search engine marketing strategies to gain appropriate readers.  Perhaps you could become active in related forums and communities, and with meaningful participation you are likely gain additional interest in your own blog content.  Getting active in social media arenas such as Twitter is another great way to attract readers. 

Ensure your advertising is relevant

Now that you have a following, what’s next?  Key to finding success with monetizing your blog is the the relevancy of the products you’re advertising to the content of your site.  For example, if you publish detailed product reviews on the 5 hottest selling gifts this holiday season and then integrate affiliate links to each of those products in the review, that is highly targeted traffic and will likely return good results for you.  If you have great content and are serving up irrelevant ads to your audience, your revenue might be seriously lacking.

It’s important you choose to advertize an appropriate merchant, so with countless affiliate programs out there, what makes eBay Partner Network the right partner for you to achieve your goals of monetizing your blog?  The obvious answer is that eBay is able to fit every single niche imaginable, with products ranging from collectibles to vehicles to jewelry and everything in between.  As you most likely know, eBay is the only place to find most rare or discontinued products.   However, remember the relevancy of your ads is crucial, so in some circumstances promoting a larger number of merchants may serve your readers better, and this has the added benefit of potentially improving your Quality Score when it comes to SEM.

eBay Partner Network offers a number of tools that simplify the process of monetizing your blog, including Custom Banner and our robust API that will allow you to create some more customized integrations.  In order to make sure you’re showcasing the most relevant listings, take time to read James Skelland’s blog post, where he highlights some tips and tricks to help you do this.  In addition, we have geo-targeted tools to increase revenue from your international traffic, and other tools and widgets that will help you find very specific products in your niche to promote. 

Disclose that you are advertising

Finally, please remember that if you are generating revenue by product endorsements or testimonials on your blog, you must disclose that relationship according to the Federal Trade Commission

To your continued success & if you have many more tips on blog monetization, please share them with us! Amanda Lucas, Affiliate Program Manager at PartnerCentric

Successful Search Engine Marketing – 3. Landing Page Optimization and Design

In this third post in the ‘Successful Search Engine Marketing’ series, I’ll be providing some tips on how to make the clicks you send to your website convert better for you by optimizing your landing pages.  In 2010 we’ll be following up with a post on how to choose the optimal pages on eBay to which to direct your traffic.  However, when buying traffic from search engines, it is also important to ensure that you are sending visitors to the best possible pages on your own site, and that the look and feel of those pages is as good as possible.  Doing this successfully is key to making sure that your Search Engine Marketing budget is being spent profitably. Landing Page Design Guidelines

One of the comments we hear most frequently from our publishers is that their performance is heavily affected by the way search engines (particularly Google) view their website.  Most search engines publish guidelines on what they consider to be good landing page experiences, to which they advise websites who advertise with them to adhere– for example, you can find Google’s guidelines here.  Websites which do not meet these recommendations often find that the landing page component of the ‘Quality Score’ search engines assign to their ads is very low, which can lead to being charged higher minimum CPCs in order to advertise your website.  In more extreme cases, some publishers have found that search engines have barred them from buying traffic to their websites until the quality of their sites has been improved sufficiently to comply with these guidelines.

Although the guidelines for each of the search engines differ, they all boil down to the general mantra that you should build your website with your visitors in mind.  Four common themes emerge from looking at these guidelines:

1. Unique, relevant content.  Ensuring that you have unique content on your website is critical for all websites, and the lack of original material is one of the complaints most commonly raised specifically against affiliate websites.  Original, value-added content can come in many forms – for example, reviews of products (whether written by you or generated by the users of your website), information about the category or niche you are promoting, or editorials about the newest product releases.  The important thing to remember is that as well as being unique, the content you are adding to your website should also be relevant to what the user is looking for – in other words, don’t place reviews of mobile phones next to listings for handbags.  Always think about whether the information you are placing on your site will make sense for users, and will add value to their browsing experience.  Many search engines will not allow multiple ads for websites which have the same content, so ensuring that you are offering something unique is crucial if you want to maximize the visibility of ads for your site.

2. Original look and feel.  Another criticism often leveled at affiliate websites by search engines is that they look too similar to the website for the company whose products they are promoting.  Again, the key here is to think about how your site design can add more value to the overall user experience than simply re-skinning your merchant’s site.  A few things that you might want to try testing out include different page layouts, giving a variety of different search options (for example, by price range or by location), and filtering the results you show on your website to the most relevant for users (for example, a site about an individual brand’s laptops may want to exclude accessories for that laptop from the results they display to users).  Again, search engines look very closely at how similar sites look to each other, and will restrict the number of ads they show for sites they consider to look to close to each other, in order to encourage a true range of choice for users when they search on the internet – so having a site which looks different from your merchant’s website is vital to running successful SEM campaigns.

3. Ease of use.  The easier you can make it for users to find what they are looking for, the better.  There are three broad elements to this.  Firstly, you should ensure that a user can find their way around whichever page they visit on your website.  In order to do this, you should try to make sure that the key features of your page (for example, editorial content, products and merchandizing, pricing information and display or text advertising) are laid out logically and consistently.  Secondly, users should be able to find their way from one page on your site to another.  For example, if you promote different product categories on your site, clearly signpost on each page how users can move to another category than the one they are currently looking at.  If your site offers search functionality, make it clearly visible to users where they can find it.  Also, make sure that your site has an up to date Site Map.  Finally, make sure your site offers a ‘clean’ experience to users – for example by not using pop-ups and pop-unders, ensuring that advertising is integrated as seamlessly as possible into the overall look and feel of the site, and that your pages load quickly.  For more information in this area, Google offers several useful hints and tips in its Webmaster Guidelines.

4. Transparency.  Most of the guidance here comes down to being open and honest towards visitors to your site.  A few specific best practices include: • Be clear about the nature of your website.  Make it obvious to your users who owns and is responsible for the content on your website and about what areas your website covers. • Clearly signpost when links or images on your website will take users to another site, and ensure that users are sent to the most relevant place on that external website, including checking that the links you are using to redirect users to other sites work correctly. • Do not make changes to the way users’ browsers behave (for example the ability to use the back button) unless you first inform the user that this will happen, give them a clear path to stop this from happening, and give straightforward instructions as to how they can return to their computer’s previous settings.  The same rules apply to installing software on users’ machines. • If you collect personal information on users, ensure that you give users the option to opt out of providing this, that you comply with the relevant privacy laws in all markets in which you operate, and that you clearly state your website’s privacy policy.

Remember, following these guidelines is not only important in running successful SEM campaigns.  The principles behind them are best practices for how to operate any website, regardless of the sources of your traffic.  Furthermore, much of the guidance here underlies basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques, and following this advice should therefore also help you to drive free traffic from search engines to your website.

Choosing the Optimal Landing Pages for your SEM Traffic

Once you have designed the pages of your website, you need to decide to which of your pages you will send users who enter via a search engine for each keyword purchased.  Having a site which looks great and is easy to use is all well and good, but if the keywords you purchase and the pages to which you send users are not aligned, the experience for visitors to your site will still be poor. 

The most important principle to remember here is that you should make the end to end experience for users clicking on your SEM ads as smooth as possible.  In the blog post on Creating Appealing Ad Text, I talked about the importance of ensuring that your ads not only receive a high Click Through Rate, but also that the users clicking on your ads convert successfully.  A major part of this is making sure that the ad text you use creates an accurate expectation of what users will see when they come to your site – and that the page on which you land them meets that expectation.  The possibilities for testing and optimizing the landing pages you use are almost unlimited, but here are a few hints and tips that in my experience have made a big difference to the percentage of visitors from SEM who end up purchasing items:

1. Use appropriate deep linking.  This one is pretty basic, but given the impact it can have on performance, it nonetheless bears repeating.  In the vast majority of cases, sending users to the homepage of your website is not the best option!  If you are purchasing the keyword ‘Green Day CD reviews’, send users who click on that ad to a page where they can easily find reviews of Green Day CDs.  While linking to pages which are too generic is the most common mistake, linking to pages which are too specific can also be a problem.  For example, if the keyword you are purchasing is relatively generic (e.g. ‘handbags’), sending users to a page which only has one type of handbags probably narrows the selection of items too far, since they have given you no indication of what color or brand of handbag they are looking for.  Thus, users will have to do more work to find their perfect item, which makes it less likely that they will make a purchase.

2. Target different page layouts to different groups of keywords.  The keyword a user comes through is often a good indication not only of the product that user is interested in, but also how they are likely to decide which offer for that product to purchase.  If someone visits your site from an ad for ‘cheap video games’, it’s a pretty clear sign that low prices is what this user is after.  In this example, if you are a shopping comparison website, it may make sense to order the different offers for a product from the merchants you promote according to price, starting with the cheapest.  

3. Do not assume that all visitors to your site will behave the same.  There are many ways in which you can segment your traffic, and you may find that the preferences of these user segments differ significantly.  If your website promotes multiple product categories, try to understand how consumers in these categories behave and adapt your page layout accordingly.  Users looking for higher priced items normally look for more information about the products they are purchasing than those looking for something cheap – so providing information such as reviews and adverts for complementary services such as insurance can help to turn the visitor from a browser into a buyer.  We have even found that visitors from different search engines consistently behave differently, even when they come through the same keyword.  eBay offers many different ‘sort orders’ (for example, by price or by popularity) for the items on search results pages.  When testing out sending visitors from SEM to these different sort orders, we found that in many keyword segments, users from Yahoo! consistently preferred to see their search results ordered according to different logic from Google users.

Optimizing the landing pages you send your traffic to is one of the most open-ended aspects of SEM – the possibilities of how you design and organize your pages, and which users from which search engines you send to which page for each different keyword, are literally endless.  Nonetheless, applying some basic design principles and testing out different layouts can reap huge benefits for the performance of your SEM campaigns.

I’ll be back again before the holidays with the fourth post in the Successful Search Engine Marketing series, this time focusing on the secrets of which parts of the search universe you should – and should not - buy your traffic from.

Chris Howard

European eBay Partner Network team leader and one time eBay UK SEM manager

eBay Partner Network wins eConsultancy Innovation Award for Quality Click Pricing

Hi all We’re proud to announce that eBay Partner Network has won the Affiliate Marketing eConsultancy Innovation Award for our introduction of Quality Click Pricing.

It’s great to see that we’ve been recognized for our efforts to better and more fairly reward our best affiliates for the quality traffic they’re driving to eBay. eConsultancy also mentioned our aim to “elevate the quality of traffic driven to eBay sites through (our) affiliate programme,” and this is reflected by the fact that EPCs are on the rise across the network and we’ve seen plenty of publishers that were initially losing make changes to their site and then earn more.

Here’s what the judges had to say: “A fantastic idea from eBay. The Quality Click Pricing is a no-brainer. The decision to reward affiliates based on customer lifetime value and PayPal usage is a highly compelling incentive.”

Thanks to the eConsultancy judges and to all our publishers for making Quality Click Pricing a success!

The eBay Partner Network team

econsultancy-winner

Top 10 Firefox Add-Ons for Internet Marketers

Firefox has so many useful add-ons, it can be daunting to find ones that might be helpful to an internet marketer. Whether you are a blogger, specialize in Search Engine Optimization or utilize other internet marketing promotional methods, you should find one or more of the below add-ons helpful in your daily tasks.

  1. SEO Link Analysis – Enriches the link data in Google Webmaster Tools & Yahoo! Site Explorer by showing the PageRank of the linking page, the anchor text user and whether the link is nofollowed or not.

  2. Screengrab – Allows you to save webpages as images. It will capture what you can see in the window, the entire page, just a selection, a particular frame... basically it saves webpages as images - either to a file, or to the clipboard.

  3. StomperTools - StomperTools features SNRanker, a visualization of Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Live for a specific query term using SVG. See how you rank! Useful for search engine optimization (SEO) assessment as well as exploring a topic. It also integrates with Stomper Scrutinizer, an Adobe AIR browser with a built in simulation of human vision, if installed.

  4. TableTools - TableTools sorts, filters or copies any HTML table. This extension is the perfect first-glance tool for HTML data tables, providing better sorting and filtering capabilities than MS Excel (and directly in FF!), but if you need to make a graph or sth., just use the extension to copy the whole table into Excel!

  5. Better Google Analytics – Enhances Google Analytics with a compilation of user scripts.

  6. Save Complete - Saves a webpage completely, providing a better alternative to the flawed built-in save functionality of Firefox.

  7. IE Tab – Allows you to embed Internet Explorer in tabs of Mozilla/Firefox.

  8. KGen - KGen (Keyword Generator) is an extension that allows you to see what keywords are strong on visited web pages.

  9. Live HTTP Headers - View HTTP headers of a page and while browsing.

  10. SearchStatus - Display the Google PageRank, Alexa rank, Compete ranking and SEOmoz Linkscape mozRank anywhere in your browser, along with fast keyword density analyser, keyword/nofollow highlighting, backward/related links, Alexa info and more.

We know that there are many more valuable add-ons, so if there’s one that you’re using and couldn’t live without, please feel free to leave a comment and share your favorites with us!

To your continued success,

Amanda Lucas, Affiliate Program Manager at PartnerCentric

A Look Back at Content Revenue Strategies

Will Martin-Gill of the eBay Partner Network joined Brook Schaaf, Shawn Collins, Peter Bordes and Gil Abir on a panel moderated by Steve Schaffer at Content Revenue Strategies in NYC this past November. The panel entitled "Affiliate Marketing: A Better Alternative" was a platform for the group to discuss ways to add value for users by finding the right opportunities, appropriate partners and utililizing tools for deeper integrations, along with other strategies and topics such as the affiliate tax.

To your continued success,

The eBay Partner Network Team

Save Big on Designer Brands - The Fashion Vault

eBay recently launched their "Fashion Vault" this month and it's been quite a ride, already receiving heavy media attention from sites like Lucky Mag and NBC New York. Also backing up the marketing push for the Fashion Vault is the eBay pop up shop on west 57th street in NYC. If you haven't had a chance to check out the Fashion Vault, there's a DKNY sale that is ending in just a couple of days, however there's still 89 designer pieces remaining at up to 70% off! There are a wide variety of ways to promote the Fashion Vault, including banners, custom RSS feeds, widgets or basic text links. If you'd like to build a text link to any of the sale pages or the main Fashion Vault, use the custom url feature in the link generator tool. For a more merchandised approach, use the seller id of the sale in the custom RSS feed or other widgets to show results based on this seller, and also apply a variety of other filters with keywords and sorting options. To find the seller ID on each Fashion Vault sale, navigate to any item page found on the Fashion Vault and look under "seller info". In the case of the DKNY sale, the seller id is stylepremium. If you'd like to use a simple banner option, here are links to promote the Fashion Vault sales with 160x600, 300x250 and 728x90 banners.

The next Fashion Vault sale will run from Monday December 7th through Wednesday December 9th. Most Fashion Vault sales will only last 48-72 hours, so keep an eye on the ePN blog and the Fashion Vault site for the latest updates. Also, please note these sales are currently only available for the US eBay Partner Network program.

Quality Click Pricing - More Of Your Questions Answered

Over the past months as people are getting used to the new Quality Click Pricing payment model, we've been asked many questions about the new system both in person and on the boards.  Many have already been answered in the FAQ document that we published at launch, but some were new and we thought it worthwhile to collate them and publish them here so that everyone can benefit from the answers.  We're committed to helping people suceed under QCP, so as well as reading this article, we recommend you check out some of the educative articles that we've posted to help you increase the quality of your traffic. Are higher ticket categories, such as Motors, and auction heavy categories, such as collectibles, adversely affected by the launch of QCP?

The motors category overall hasn’t experienced more publishers whose earnings have declined when compared to winners than other categories and in fact, there are twice the number of motors affiliates who are earning more or about the same amount than there are losing under QCP.  In general we see motors publishers bring in a bit less short term revenue (as the purchase cycle of vehicles tends to be longer than that of other items).  However, this is balanced by the fact that their traffic’s long term revenue tends to be greater than for other affiliates, which leads to these results. 

When looking at the performance for segments of Motors affiliates, the results are very intuitive when taking into account the objectives of QCP.  Motors affiliates who generate more than 50% of their revenue from the motors category tend to do better when compared to their CPA earnings.  However, affiliates who send traffic to the motors category, but whose users tend to convert elsewhere generally see lower earnings when compared to CPA.  So the sites that target motors visitors and help get them interesting in buying motors items on eBay do better!

Why is my EPC zero for a campaign, despite it having posted winning bid revenue for that day?

QCP is based on revenue, so just like in the old system there may be days when an affiliate has zero sales and therefore zero EPC. This is especially true with campaigns that have lower volumes of clicks.  This said, there are a few specific reasons why you might see zero EPCs: • Rounding for extremely low EPCs: If your EPC earnings divided by your number of clicks is less than 0.005 (in USD or any other currency) then the EPC will be rounded down to zero. • Click spiking: The system has a built-in protection to ensure that people can’t build up a high EPC level with a low volume of traffic and then profit by flooding ePN with high volumes of low quality clicks the next day.  Therefore, when we see that a campaign has a significant increase in clicks (this also happens with new campaigns), the history for that campaign will be weighted less and we’ll use shorter term revenues, and an estimate of longer term revenue, as a way to calculate the value of those clicks until we have more data to determine the quality of those clicks (usually a few days).  If you have no short term revenue associated with those clicks, you may have a zero EPC until we can determine the actual value of the traffic.

I just generated an ACRU and my EPC hasn’t changed – why?

Your EPC is made up of both the short term value generated by sales and also the long term value from new users, so we’re still looking at the quantity of ACRUs each publisher brings in and what those ACRUs are worth to eBay.  However, what has changed is that we no longer simply add up the number of ACRUs, multiply by a monthly tier, and pay out for them. Instead we now use a combination of the number of ACRUs and the actual value of those ACRUs to determine the long-term value of your traffic.  This is a factor that gets adjusted on an on-going basis as the quality and quantity of ACRUs evolves over time.  Thus when you generate an ACRU, you may not see any impact on your EPC that day, since the ACRU value is realized over a longer period of time.  In the long term, you will see an increase in your EPC if you drive either more ACRUs or the value of those ACRUs increase.

Are my EPC amounts and my earnings affected if I am hit by a bot and my clicks increase?

We recently launched in mid-November additional real-time click filters that will help address a large number of clicks from these unknown bots, and we’ll continue to work on additional filters to catch more of them.  However, if a bot does hit your site and is not filtered, your EPC is still based on revenue, so although an increase in clicks due to bots will decrease your EPC, in most cases the overall amount you earn will remain the same.  If you suspect a bot, you can contact customer service.  Please include the website that was affected and  the IP address.  Our team will investigate for inclusion into our list of filtered bots. 

Why does my EPC appear lower than usual when I split existing activity into multiple campaigns or start a new campaign?

When you first start a campaign, the system has very limited information with which to predict the value of your clicks, so it may take a few days’ worth of data to reflect the actual value of your traffic.  In some cases this may lead to us paying more than we would have if you had a full campaign history and in some cases less.  This is because until you have built up a history, we use revenue generated very close to the click, with an estimate for long-term revenue, as a way to calculate the value of those clicks.  The system will get up to speed more quickly with campaigns that have larger numbers of clicks and may take a bit more time with campaigns that have fewer numbers of clicks.

How can my EPC earnings amount be higher than the amount of 7 day winning bid revenue?

• There are other components to the QCP algorithm besides winning bid revenue, such as the long term value of ACRUs and PayPal and advertising revenue, which means that your earnings could be higher than your winning bid revenue.  This could also have happened under the old CPA system. • In addition to looking at the revenue driven by yesterday’s traffic, the system also takes into account the value you have driven from sales historically, including from sales that occurred within the 7 day cookie latency.  This means that although the winning bid revenue could be low for this day, the EPC also takes into account winning bid revenue you received on other higher winning bid revenue days, for example Sundays.  Given the difficulty in making these comparisons, we recommend that you analyze your earnings over a longer period of time such as a week or month.

Why does my EPC fluctuate so much from day to day?

In general, publishers should see less variability in their EPC than under the old CPA system as the algorithm looks at historical data as well as what happened yesterday. In fact, we have seen about a 30% reduction on average for publishers.  This said, there are a few cases where you may see more volatility in your EPCs: • If you are a low volume publisher you may see more fluctuation than other publishers, just as you would have done under the CPA payment model.  This is also the case if you are operating on one of eBay's smaller programs, such as Belgium, since traffic volumes on these programs tend to be lower.  If you’re a very low volume publisher that is not sending enough clicks for us to calculate their value, then your clicks and earnings may be pooled with other low volume publishers and you will be given a default EPC. • If you have recently increased the number of clicks you are driving to eBay or started a new campaign, then your EPC is likely to fluctuate more than normal as you build up a history.  This is because we use revenue generated very close to the click as a way to calculate the value of the new campaign or increased volume of clicks. 

Does lack of referring URLs or not having your business model specially approved (where relevant) affect your EPC?

At the current time, QCP does not factor referring URLs into your EPC.  However: • If you operate under a business model that requires special approval, you need to apply for and receive approval for that business model.  These include electronic communications (e-mail), incentives, downloadable software, or “other”.    Failure to do so may lead to you being expired from eBay Partner Network.  You can find the special business model applications under the “Account” tab under “Business model applications” • It is important that you take steps to enable us to see your referring URLs.  You can find more information on ensuring we can see those here. While these don’t impact your EPC at the current time, we do look regularly at each account and its referring URLs, and whenever there’s any issue with an account, referring URLs are important inputs to ensure we understand where traffic is coming from and can take the appropriate action.

Publisher Spotlight: StangNet.com

Michael Raburn knew that when he retired from the Army in 1998 that he would have some time to pursue various hobbies and ultimately, his passions. One such passion is that of the Ford Mustang and the plethora of custom styles, add-ons, designers, and racing support the car has sustained over the years. The desire to do more with the Mustangs Michael owned coupled with his technical aptitude lead him to foster one of the most popular and recognized Ford Mustang communities online. m_raburn1

In mid-1998, Michael took the wraps off of StangNet.com and started to bring Mustang enthusiasts together by means of technical write-ups, videos, feature cars, members' rides, contests, merchandising, and superb, relevant content. StangNet has since been reputed by Ford Motor Company directly as one of the ultimate enthusiast communities in existence.

Above all of this excitement is the parent company, Drive9 Media, which has also ventured out to blogging, podcasting, and community sites focused on other subjects aside from automobiles.

Q: Why did you choose eBay Partner Network?

A: I knew that the Mustang community was heavily into modifying and tweaking their cars, and eBay has a large selection of aftermarket companies that offer products that would cater to our user base. It was the perfect fit. eBay tends to have more niche products for vehicles over other affiliate programs that cover general automotive products, but not so much the niche products that our users are hunting for.

Q: What percent of your overall commissions earned does eBay Partner Network represent?

A: eBay Partner Network runs about 80% of our affiliate commissions and about 15% of all revenue generated on the site.

Q: How long have you been a member of eBay Partner Network?

A: We started with eBay Partner Network (ePN) back in the Commission Junction days and followed over to the ePN when it started up. I feel better using ePN directly and find that the tools and analytics allow me to do a better job of reaching out to our users.

Q: How did you get started in affiliate marketing?

A: We have been running StangNet for over 10 years now. We started working with affiliate programs on our site back around 2001. More and more programs were coming online and we knew that because we run a niche website, we had a great chance of capturing users looking for products and information. Implementing affiliate programs for our users was a no brainer.

Q: Which places (forums, blogs, communities) do you participate in and why?

A: I tend to hang out around Webmasterforums.com for insight into our industry. A lot of good information is floating around over there and when any issues arise in the industry, it’s a good place to find out what is actually going on.

Q: One tip that you can share with other affiliates about improving their performance on eBay Partner Network?

A: Test and test more. Keep trying different things and analyze what works and what does not...which method is working better? The more time you spend tweaking, the better the revenue potential and it also creates a better experience for users in the long run.

Thank you, Michael!

The eBay Partner Network Team