|Beware of CJ - Links may not be tracking sales at all|
If you are a CJ publisher you should be reading this.
I'm going to keep my cool here but I need to get this said here and now. I consider this an issue of joint responsibility. It's not 100% CJ and it's not 100% the fault of the advertiser.
I will tell you I'm flabbergasted at my recent experienced with CJ. I will also say that I speak knowing that many other publisher are getting royally shafted and may be unaware. The fact is I'm not talking about thousands of affiliate dollars lost personally, but collectively it would certainly be a significant number.
I have had 2 issues with 2 separate advertisers. In one instance they have a "clause" whereby they have to "manually" approve added PIDs. If not, then you will see your stats behaving normally with one exception. You won't see any sales. Sure you can count your clicks but sales? Nope.
The other advertiser changed their program to the extent that CJ essentially booted everyone out. Then you have to manually accept that pending offer. If not, guess what? You have your links to that advertiser but you won't be getting anything. At the point of the new terms, if you didn't accept, you are dead to the advertiser. Yes, normally new terms auto renew. Aha, but this was more than just "new terms" which means it's handled differently that 99.5% of all the other CJ advertiser notices you get. Oops did that notice about needing to apply end up in your junk folder? Too bad for you. Feel good knowing all those links were sending traffic to the advertiser and you were collecting squat. I'm sure they don't mind that CJ has this juicy little loophole.
I should also add that the advertiser I just mentioned sent out emails to affiliates for those special deals and offers. You know the ones. They have the codes right there for you! What they didn't mention is the fact that some of those products (actually their most popular and expensive items) fetch you....ready? ZERO commission. Yes, just paste those codes up on your site and collect nothing other than great karma.
I use the word scammed and I don't take that lightly. I'm not getting into specifics just yet. In my instance I'm at a peak season for sales. During this time I have had dead links (well links that send them traffic but don't track sales) for a good chunk of time.
My fault you say? Well that's the debate isn't it. If you make things confusing enough you won't know your A from a hole in the ground. The biggest scam in my opinion is the fact that "some" advertisers have to manually approve a PID. Nice one. I bet you might forget about clause #5 from advertiser B that is the only one out of the 20 programs you're part of that requires this. Not sure when you created a PID? You better. What if they didn't even authorize those PIDs that were in your account at the time you signed up and were accepted into their program? Ah just details right. Sure.
Again, I'm not the thousands of dollars lost situation. I say that collectively it most likely is. At some point the question gets asked. Are these situations fair, honest, in the best interest of one party, loopholes, intentional, coincidence, etc. You be the judge. Be careful whatever you're doing.
Frankly if I'm an advertiser, I'm adding that clause about manually approving PIDs. That way, there a percentage of people who will use codes that won't track. I'll still get the sale but I won't have a commission to pay. Heck it's in the rule book! There will be a few suckers out there who didn't read the fine print or forgot the terms. Bury'em with BS I say!
I used to do good business with CJ and suddenly the money vanished altogether.
Traffic was strong, impressions strong, click thrus normal, just no sales recorded.
I actually knew the marketing guy at one company using CJ and he flipped when I dropped them because at the time I was giving them nearly 1 million impressions a month and tons of click thrus yet it was suddenly earning $0. Marketing guy couldn't explain it, CJ had no clue, then suddenly all my CJ dried up with millions of impressions and many thousands of click thrus per month.
Maybe it was some T&C nonsense like this, maybe it was cookie washing, no clue. However, it does happen inexplicably and if it was some technical rules glitch like this nobody had any answers and I'm sure the marketing guy wasn't willing to lose the sheer volumes I was sending his way over some technical issue.
Never had any issues like this with any other affiliate program other than CJ.
The things these merchants come up with never cease to amaze me. They seem to pretty much make up their own rules and think that affiliates are at the bottom of the totem pole and work for them.
I have also seen them kick affiliates out the busiest time of the year e.g. Black Friday, Christmas, etc. and then reinstate people when things get slow. What they think it doesn't take time to take those links out and then put them back int? Pffft! Those are the merchants I will never work with.
Tracking seem pretty much an issue everywhere. Some networks more than others. There are so many factors that cause that cookie to be overwritten that I am so tired of it.
I think it's one thing to kick people out etc or act unethical but it's another to game the system via loopholes. If you brought that issue to CJ I bet I know the result. Squat. Isn't that one of the issues? You complain but was anything done on their end to protect you or other publishers? Or did you not report it to them?
I concur with BILL in the fact that I've only seen this type of garbage coming from CJ. I've discovered some holes there lately that make me want to warn my fellow publishers. Like anything it's buyer beware at the end of the day. It's publisher beware in this instance.
If you consider the possible scale of what's happening with some advertisers? Well not all publishers rake in the money. You get enough people putting up links that aren't resulting in paying out a commission but result in sales? That's called nirvana! It's an advertisers nirvana. Yes yes yes no honest and ethical advertiser would ever do such a thing. Just all honest mistakes!
The real issue is that if I bring these issues forward to CJ and they pat me on the head and send me on my way without any further reviews. Any opportunity for an advertiser to not pay a commission for traffic that a publisher sends should be plugged. It's such a farce there I would suggest a vast majority have no idea. Yes I could walk away but it's not that simple. I'm fine knowing all these things but it doesn't stop me from caring about these loopholes which are screwing publishers.
[edited by: MrSavage at 5:28 am (utc) on Aug 23, 2012]
|Any opportunity for an advertiser to not pay a commission for traffic that a publisher sends should be plugged. |
But I think CJ makes a percentage of the commissions so if they aren't reporting sales then CJ isn't being paid either so only the advertiser is winning. If what you say is true, CJ should be interested in fixing the problem unless the publisher is the only one being cut out of the loop when 'unauthorized' sales occur.
Perhaps they are a horribly run organization? That would be my guess. Terrible loopholes, flawed notifications, different rules for different advertisers, etc all add up to one thing in my mind. Those type of people don't know their A from a hole in the ground. That's my take. If you're a publisher there you might get a dose of reality at a later date about how you as a publisher didn't know about clause #4c from advertiser X and that it's your fault because the policy says that any advertiser can create clause #4c or #6c at their own discretion and if you as a publisher only took the time to read the fine print on the terms of each and every one of your programs you would understand. Mr. Publisher, it's YOUR FAULT! Makes sense in that way. It's up to us to know these things. And yes, those non tracking links will report normal impressions and clicks. An no, there is no way you can tell from your reports that you're using invalid codes. And yes you need to use your ESP to feel whether it's your traffic not converting or if it's you choosing a stinky PID in your account.
I agree, something's rotten in Denmark with this co. I was making a passable living promoting their merchants until about 2 months ago. The clicks keep coming, but no conversions.
Plus, the merchants I do make a sale for, seem to be dropping me for no stated reason, even though I make a point to always follow their TOS.
Merchants I've joined, but never made a sale for, they seem happy with me, LOL.
Another thought on this. The issue around an advertiser doing something with their terms so that instead of an automatic acceptance by publishers, a publisher must manually accept the new terms via their user panel.
Think of it. I say to you, Mr. Advertiser, you can kick all your publishers out of your program instantly. A certain percentage will be unaware of the mandatory acceptance of the terms and will still send you traffic. You won't have to pay commission on any of those sales. If those publishers forget for any length of time, it's a terrific deal for you Mr. Advertiser.
See, if I want to game their system, I can do it honestly. Sure I just needed to tweak my terms or program. I had no idea that I might get some commission free sales from doing it. Honest. I had no idea. Really. I'm not joking!
Regarding the fact that CJ get a commission from our commissions? I have no idea about that and how that might compare to how much they make from having advertisers sign up. I find it hard to believe that any business like this put publishers concerns even close to the needs of the advertisers. It's called being a bottom feeder.
These pitfalls MIGHT be avoided if you're a small publisher. If you run one site, have very few advertisers and you aren't burdened with multiple advertisers special conditions or rule changes.
CJ is the largest network, they charge more to set up than other networks, they earn monthly fees outside of their cut of commissions and they welcome parasites/toolbars to their programs. I tried with them for a short time and took my little earnings and ran with them because by that time I had way too may instances of my stats not agreeing with theirs. They have had issues time and again with their ads being blocked by AV programs, most recently the popular free AVG program. When other affiliates are allowed to set a cookie in the shopping cart you stand a most limited chance of worthwhile ROI. When the merchants pushes a promo code text box at the shopper without sharing those codes you are almost guaranteed to never see a commission. It pays to carefully examine the merchant's site and their terms.
I'll say this, in 2012 EVERYTHING has stopped converting.
Here's a list of programs I have had good results with until this year. My clicks keep adding up, but my sales have completely and I mean COMPLETELY dried up.
3. linkshare - an occasional trickle.
6. Rockler - sadly, this long time good performer is also dropping like a rock on normal traffic levels.
It seems either they all expired their links on me or set the return cookie to zero or some tiny number without notifying anyone. It's like the hook you, give you some sales, then eventually realize they can get traffic and not pay anyone. I know times are tough, but today I'm dropping ALL my affiliate links.
Enough sending free traffic their way.
|I used to do good business with CJ and suddenly the money vanished altogether. |
Traffic was strong, impressions strong, click thrus normal, just no sales recorded.
I've had similar issues. However I've had positive experiences with affiliate programs as well, like with shareasale. The help staff there try hard to fix things but they're as smart or non-smart as workers anywhere else, they're not exceptional.
It's not set it and forget it
The thing with affiliate work is that you really do need to keep an eye on sales and links to make sure all links are going to valid landing pages, test that the landing pages are converting, that all links are up to date, etc. It's not set and forget it. However with affiliate programs you do have a little more freedom in how and where you place links and ads. It's more work than AdSense because once you set it you can't walk away and forget it.
Same experience now with me. Had my page impressions steady for years, but CJ revenue from one particular advertiser dried up overnight. Advertiser ignored my emails, CJ is no help at all. "Clicks from inactive links" is not reporting another advertiser who's account has been deactivated for a week now.
We left CJ in 2008 after lead conversions dried up during our busiest season, and we lost faith in the tracking. Of all the network programs out there, we found ShareaSale to be the best for our business model. Aside from SAS, we have direct vendor partnerships as well.
Love SAS, ethics = productive!