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Although ppc and commission systems are effective for merchants, they have gotten way out of hand... The amount of crappy sites out there with crap banners that are never updated is out of this world...
There needs to be a publisher backlash against all these merchants. Refuse affiliate programs so that these jerks start understanding that we don't want to put up with their 2 banners from 98...
To make matters worse.... you have chumps posting articles for merchants telling them not to waste their money on impressions... you can pay for the clicks and not worry about maximizing anything... these guys need to get a bullet in the head.
Affiliate programs aren't evil... the way they are being implemented on the other hand is. There needs to be an "internet revolution".
DOWN with PPC and DOWN with commission. Pre-buy your ad space, or go to *l!
(who's with me?)
I think the point about pay-per-action affiliate programs is supposed to be that if your readers and their customers are a close match, you will make lots of conversions and your revenue divided by 1000 impressions will be higher than even a high payout CPM campaign... and if they're not a close match then you get rid of the merchant and the marketplae becomes more efficient.
What's fouling up the system a little is that some merchants have very low commission rates, so that even if your readers and their customers are a close match, you're still only making the equivalent of low to average CPM rates.
The argument against this is to boycott the merchant just as you would a non-performing merchant... but as a publisher, you can't because this is the internet and there are always a million more publishers around the corner who will promote the affiliate program for 0.01 per $50 sale, even if you won't.
And besides, if you know for a fact that your readers and their customers are a good match, you're providing a service for your customers and you'd be shooting yourself in the foot to get rid of the program, even if the merchant in question is giving you minimal credit... and they probably know this.
I definitely think that the boot is rather on the other foot from how it was in 1999 and that the market favours merchants over publishers right now. I think we will see some big shifts before the end of 2004, though, and certainly by the middle of 2005.
If the merchant offers dreadful creative, design your own graphics or write some snappy text to presell the product. This can be a great opportunity to get a leg up on the vast majority of affiliates who just cut and paste.
But occasionally the merchant doesn't allow affiliates to use anything except the official banners, and you have no choice but to move on. Don't waste time wishing the merchant ill; forget about it and concentrate on making your site a success.
The other end of the spectrum is CPM advertising, where the merchant takes all the risk, and the "affiliate" takes none.
The benefit to an affiliate program is that it rewards affliates on delivering results, but it often pays out a mediocre amount of money compared to the actual value of the business the merchant gains. It should be a match made in heaven, and in some cases it can be - that's the exception, not the rule.
I agree that the pendulum needs to swing a long way back to be balanced between publisher and merchant, but I think it's inevitable.
Universe, you hit the nail right on the head... publishers having to take all the risk... Its BS and something needs to be done.
I disagree with your comment about the merchant taking all the risk in the cpm model. My clients get indepedent tracking for every banner, allowing them to perpetually improve all of their creatives.
The problem is, most of these people are too cheap and lazy to want to improve things. They want advertising for next to nothing... The only way things would change would be to create a "publisher's group/union" or something to fight these guys. Not that I am a fan of unions, but the principle behind them....
Outside of that, i haven't been able to find anything worthy...
[edited by: Drastic at 3:18 pm (utc) on Feb. 17, 2004]
[edit reason] no discussion on adult topics [/edit]
Does branding mean anything anymore?
Regardless of your CTR, every time one of a merchant's creatives is shown, it builds their brand name... Affiliate programs, at least 98% of them, don't take this into account...
Although starved for profitable clients, publishers need to unify against this nonsense so better times can come... Over the 3 years I've been publishing, things seem to have only gotten worse... Anyone have ideas on how to make it better?
I don't see anything wrong with an affiliate program, I'm just saying that they don't pay nearly enough to offset the risk for the publisher, and the reward for the advertiser. An affiliate program allows me as a publisher to integrate a product into my website in ways that would never work in a traditional CPM relationship. The point is they payouts need to be much higher. They need to recognize the lifetime value of a customer. [snip]
[edited by: Drastic at 3:19 pm (utc) on Feb. 17, 2004]
[edit reason] no discussion on adult topics [/edit]
who wouldn't want to pay out 10% of the purchase price on one product for the opportunity at gaining a lifetime customer?
There are ways of getting around this, although I admit that, though I intend to eventually, I've never yet used the method outlined below.
1) The affiliate button (whatever) does not lead to the merchant, it leads to a merchant related sub-page which further whettens the prospect's apetite but explains that only 'newsletter subscribing members' can access the service and provides a free signup form.
2) The form details, when they're sent to you, include the name of the product or merchant the prospect has clicked on (this can be a hidden field or you can ask the prospect in the form: "What other services are you interested in?").
3) Once the prospect fills in the form they go to a second sub-page where they can now click on an active affiliate link to go through to the merchant.
4) Whilst the signup process will deter some potential customers, it will likely improve your conversion rate.
5) Not only this, but you now have a name to add to your email list and you know exactly what the new member is most interested in.
6) When you customise newsletters to send out to different members, you can focus on the merchants that the member is most interested in.
That way, the prospect becomes your lifetime customer as well as the merchant's and increasingly sees your site as the gateway to the merchant's site.
While it's true that CPM advertising removes risk for the publisher, it's also going to pay less in many cases (especially if it's being served via an ad network), because the advertiser has to build in an allowance for non-performing ads and sites. I think it's almost a certainty that CPC advertising or affiliate sales can easily bring in more money for the publisher than CPM advertising can--if the publisher has an easily "monetized" topic and (b) well-matched CPC advertisers and affiliate programs are available, as they happen to be for my travel topic.
in regards to me wasting my time.... It is the merchants "job" to supply advertisements to the publisher. I consider making advertisements for merchants a waste of my time because they should be paying for that service... High converting banners are not easy to make, they take a lot of experience. If companies wanted to buy banners that I made, I would consider it, but they won't... they are spoiled in their little world of making everyone else take their risk.
in regards to that one comment about advertisers having to budget for non performing ads... take a step back man. If a visitor to my site saw their advertisement, I have provided a service to the merchant. My service is not providing sales, its giving them the opportunity to attain traffic, while increasing their brand.
If I may repeat...
Just because tracking every sale is possible on the internet does not mean it is the only way to go. No other publisher group in this world takes the responsability that internet merchants have grow to expect from online publishers.
As for who does the "creative," the advertiser does that in the case of CPC (AdSense) ads, while I do that in the case of affiliate links. (I could use advertiser-supplied text links, buttons, or banners in my column of affiliate links, but I prefer to have control over its appearance and content. To each his own.)
As a result I am mostly talking about the need to write a few lines of compelling text - either standalone or as a supplement to graphic images. This is far simpler than designing professional graphics, although you have to be prepared to tweak the text endlessly. What it has to achieve is:
(a) Finessing your visitors into the frame of mind for spending money,
(b) Pre-selling them on the merchant's quality and reliability, and
(c) Giving them a hint about how to get started when they get to the merchant's site if it isn't immediately obvious (and it frequently isn't). In other words, give them a running start.
What I'm tired of seeing is publishers who want it all, but don't want to lift a finger to sell or promote their sponsors. Merchants don't pay to put their ads on websites "jus cuz" or for you to make money, they do so with the intent of making a return on their investment.
Affiliate programs are great because if you don't make any money, then you know your site is a load of garbage. On the flipside, a well designed site will make a killing.
If anything, there needs to be a MERCHANT backlash against all these "me too" content sites that pop up daily, with webmasters who believe they're going to make it big running banner ads. Sorry. That train left the station in 1999.
Content sites, by nature, are not designed to sell. People go there for the content, not to shop. You are not "owed" anything by any merchant.
[edited by: eljefe3 at 8:57 am (utc) on Feb. 19, 2004]
[edit reason] differing opinions are Ok, but please be courteous per the TOS. [/edit]
Yes and no. On a travel-planning site or a product-review site, people are looking for advice on how to spend their money. That's why such sites are in demand by advertisers and merchants, who want to capture those readers when they're ready to shop.
>> Merchants don't pay to put their ads on websites "jus cuz" or for you to make money, they do so with the intent of making a return on their investment.
We're talking about affiliate programs here. Merchant's don't pay for exposure, except in some cases for the relatively slight cost of some bandwidth.
>> if you don't make any money, then you know your site is a load of garbage.
>> On the flipside, a well designed site will make a killing.
It's not clear to me if you mean the affiliate site or the merchant site, but IMO neither of these statements is true no matter who you're talking about.
>> People go there for the content, not to shop.
Unquestionably not true in the case of my content sites. True for some sites, I guess. Difficult to quantify what percentage correct this assertion is.
Compare with Magazines in the 'real' world. They're full of valuable content. nobody buys a magazine for it's advertisers but these advertisers keep the prize 'low' and make it possible to publish this information in a increasing better way.
It benefits all at the end. The visitors looking for information, the visitors looking for transactions, the merchants/advertisers...
And us ;) ofcourse. Whether it's PPC, CPM, Affiliate Marketing that doesn't really matter. After all we're the extra sales staff with some specific knwoledge on the prospects of our merchants who will pay our monthly checks.
Good content will bring in good customers. More content will bring in more customers. Good customers will bring good merchants or advertisers.
Understanding both the merchant and their customers and deliver them both what they expect will do the trick. And that's hard working every day...
Read the thread. This guy is saying he wants to be PREPAID for ads, as in flat-rate pre-payments. That's what I am talking about.
<< >> if you don't make any money, then you know your site is a load of garbage.
>> On the flipside, a well designed site will make a killing.
It's not clear to me if you mean the affiliate site or the merchant site, but IMO neither of these statements is true no matter who you're talking about. >>
I am referring to the affiliate's site in this case, however it goes both ways. Even an "ugly" site can make a 5 figure monthly income if the content is high in quality. The point being, if someone is having problems making decent money with affiliate programs, their site is lacking. If you have a good site with good content, you'll attract more and better visitors.
<< >> People go there for the content, not to shop.
Unquestionably not true in the case of my content sites. True for some sites, I guess. Difficult to quantify what percentage correct this assertion is >>
Um, if you are running a CONTENT site and you are not SELLING anything on this site, then NOBODY is going to YOUR SITE to BUY anything. They may very well be doing research or looking for advice, but that in itself is not shopping...shopping being defined as the act of purchasing products.
The point I am driving at is as follows:
Publishers and Advertisers both have a MUTUAL goal, to make money. SMART publishers will work with their advertisers to achieve this goal. publishers will start threads like this...complaining that any work is too much work, and they they should be guaranteed payment regardless of how well they perform.
You're welcome to disagree with me, but I've been on both sides of the fence and in fact, I still am, so I can qualify my opinion through current experience. By working with my advertisers, I am able to figure out how to drive better quality traffic to them, and as a result, I walk away with more commissions each month.
[edited by: Drastic at 4:32 pm (utc) on Feb. 20, 2004]
[edit reason] Warning #2 - be polite to other members. [/edit]