eBay Partner Network Payout Changes Coming Soon
A rumor that was leaked a few days ago by a user on the eBay Partner Network forums has been confirmed. eBay’s affiliate program is once again planning to make changes to their pricing model. According to Scott Parent’s blog post just moments ago on the ePN Blog, attracting “new and infrequent buyers to our site” will be compensated more than weight than “other types of traffic that drive existing frequent buyers“. If they do plan on weighing new vs. repeat customers into their Quality Click Pricing algorithm, I hope in turn they add % of new vs return revenue and winning bids in the reporting dashboard, and before the pricing change.
While their current pricing has been algorithm based since October of 2009, the level of detail in their reporting is better than the majority of affiliate programs and networks. eBay Partner Network reports still include “Winning Bid Revenue”, which is the revenue eBay generates from specific auctions, a leftover from when a portion of affiliate earnings were actually based on this metric. So while their payout algorithm remains a mystery, ePN is very transparent when it comes to what actually happened when the user got to eBay. If you have an eBay Partner Network account, in order to see these metrics in your dashboard, make sure to select “eBay” from the advertiser drop down menu. Otherwise the default selection will include solely basic metrics that can be presented along with Half.com, even if you don’t have earnings from, or promote Half.com.
An important goal of any marketing channel is to, at most, pay for a customer once, then retain them through other in house and less expensive means like email and social media marketing. Paying for a customer every time, in most cases, just isn’t scalable. Some publishers will ask “What’s the difference? A sale is a sale, right?” If you’re a publisher or marketer today and honestly think “a sale is a sale”, you’re way off course. In my opinion, there are many affiliate monetization operations living on borrowed time and utilizing soon to be out of date business models. These days merchants are actually studying the long term value and cost of various marketing channels, and the affiliate channel is a hot topic of discussion. Jamie Birch recently explained the coming trend of incremental sales in his multi part series of blog posts, you should check it out if you’re unfamiliar with the topic.
Will ePN stop paying for repeat business entirely? Likely not, as there are variety of business models that can drive quality repeat users. As an example, comparison shopping sites that includes more than just eBay products. While the user may often find the best deal on eBay, they’re still showing intent of purchasing at another store if they’re visiting the comparison shopping site first to utilize the sorting and filtering features to find an enticing deal. If eBay actually stopped paying for repeat business altogether, these sites would be presented with the difficult choice of user experience or getting paid. At least a potion of these publishers would choose to serve competing merchant ads ahead of eBay if they have a record of the user previously purchasing at eBay. It is noteworthy to mention that back in 2011, ePN temporarily suspended relationships with loyalty and rewards affiliates, only to have this temporary suspension become what appears to be permanent. More revolving door models that are becoming harder for merchants to justify.
It’s been a couple of years since I worked at ePN, so at this point I’m light years out of the loop. However being an eBay affiliate myself I’m anxious to see where this goes in 2013. When ePN switched from ACRU and revenue share pricing to QCP (Quality Click Pricing), there was a period of time where the publisher could preview what their earnings would be QCP, but still be compensated on the ACRU & rev share pricing. Hopefully ePN will follow through again here and present some new metrics in the dashboard in advance of the compensation adjustments so publishers have a chance to adjust.