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eBay Affiliate Program Crashes and Burns

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Posted 11th October 2013 at 11:05 AM by kindsvater

I have made several forum posts over the years recommending the eBay affiliate program, and have suggested it in more than one product.

I take it all back.

On October 1st eBay slashed its affiliate referral cookie down to 1 day and the result has been as expected - catastrophic for affiliates.

We are not talking about a minor dip in earnings, but what appears to be about a 70% loss to the typical affiliate.

Affiliates are understandably in revolt.

This major change has also been dramatic because for years eBay tried to get affiliates to have relationships with customers that would result in repeat sales. That is now history. eBay, with incentives, now only mainly wants new customers - and it wants them to immediately make a purchase.

New customers, though, are the ones least likely to make an immediately impulse buy, and certainly not a huge purchase.

Affiliates who built their sites around what eBay wanted are now getting hammered the worst, and they have no easy fix. They have been double-crossed.

Although Amazon has for years also had a one-day referral cookie, that made it one of the worst affiliate programs on the net. But due to the ease of entry and wide range of products Amazon has been popular with Warrior members. Virtually all of those Warriors also make next to nothing online.

eBay, though, is not Amazon. Amazon is a retailer. It sells products, has promotions, offers shipping, and world class customer service and refunds. It also offers third parties the ability to sell on Amazon and many of them piggy-back on Amazon's warehousing, shipping and customer service.

eBay is not a retailer. It does not sell products. It does not ship products. eBay is a marketplace and income derived from product sales makes it akin to an affiliate itself.

On Amazon you do not see the Chinese manufacturers and mom and pop sellers that make up so much of eBay - or at least not as many.

eBay also has auctions. Although 70% of eBay listings are now buy it now items and not auctions, about half of eBay's revenue remains from auctions. The 70% number comes from many useless product listings of overpriced goods where if a sale comes in it is a windfall. In other words, it is inflated.

What this means is that with eBay not being a retailer, with a different type of seller, and with auctions being so important, the marketplace is far different from the Amazon store. It also means a one-day cookie on eBay is not going to work as it does on Amazon. Auction bidders tend to wait until the end of an auction to bid so as not to prematurely bid up the price. No commission is earned for those bidders.

Unless and until eBay changes its policy back, there is not much reason for an affiliate to send traffic to eBay because the return revenue, if any, will be so much less than what other programs have to offer - including Amazon.

Brian Kindsvater
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