Ebay AffliatesIf you're looking for a way to earn income from eBay without having to actually sell anything yourself, the eBay affiliate program is something to consider. eBay offers a staggering array of options for affiliates to utilize eBay's marketplace and its content for potential referral revenue. Search engine marketing, banners, auction feeds and Web Services are all part of eBay's offer to help affiliates profit from "the world's online marketplace."
Getting StartedThough the affiliates program is specifically not intended to market your own auctions (that's actually against eBay affiliates terms of service), to get started you do need to be an eBay member. The actual affiliate program itself, in terms of registration, tracking, payment and "some" of the linking options is done via Commission Junction, so you'll need to get an ID there as well. This is easily done by going to http://affiliates.ebay.com . Approval for the eBay program is almost instantaneous so you'll be able to get right into the thick of it immediately.
PayoutsIt's important to understand eBay's commission structure so that you'll have a reasonable expectation of what to expect in terms of potential revenue. eBay pays out affiliate revenues for two things:
1. Links that convert when a New "active" user registration occurs. The new user must either use Buy It Now or place a bid within 30 days of initial registration to be considered active.
2. Links from which a user bids on an item or uses Buy It Now (BIN)
Both of those items are volume indexed so the payout increases as you get more bids/user signups. As of February 2005, eBay will pay a minimum of $20.00 for every new active user registration (when you have 1-499 monthly active registrations) and a maximum of $45.00 (when you have over 7,500 monthly active registrations). For bid/BIN the minimum payout is 0.10 per bid/BIN (1-999 bids) and a current maximum of $0.25 per bid (over 100,000 bids).
Affiliate LinksThere are three principal methods of building the media links for an eBay Affiliates program:
- The Commission Junction interface
- Banners, boxes, leaderboards, skyscrapers and search
- The eBay Affiliates website
- Product Kit media units, Flexible Destination Tool, Editor Kit (integrated eBay listings)
- Web Services
- Full XML feeds and calls
The Commission Junction eBay interface offers up to 5 pages loaded full of various affiliate banners and links of all sizes and shapes for you to choose from. As with all Commission Junction programs Earnings Per Click (EPC) for the last 7 days and the last 3 months are listed on the same row as the media unit. (On March 29, 2005 for all eBay Affiliates media Commission Junction reported a 7-day EPC of $4.22 and a 3-month EPC of $3.65).
As always, the goal of the media unit is to entice the user to click through and then convert. With the over saturation of eBay in the online media landscape getting a user to click and then convert on a media unit is not an easy thing to do. However it is "easy" with Commission Junction to view the highest performing units (on an EPC basis) for the last 7 days and 3-month reporting period and use that data to help you choose which particular media units may work best for you.
As of March 29th, 2005 a 120x60 unit with a "Free Shipping" shipping message yielded one of the best 7 and 30 day EPC rates with a 7 day EPC of $59.21 and 3 Month at $50.47.
The various Search box units are also a solid option since a user will likely enter something into the dialogue box to search, which involves a greater degree of thought (and thus intention to act and possibly convert) than simply clicking on a banner, box, skyscraper media unit.
Advanced Affiliate Links the Easy WayThough you can potentially be successful with the Commission Junction buttons, banners and links, there are more effective ways to entice users to click.
An example of an eBay affiliate search box available through Commission Junction.
The Editor Kit allows you to pull in eBay auction (or just BIN if you so choose) listings into your site with the use of a script snippet that is placed on your site page. It is customizable by color, number of listing, keyword, category and seller. Personally, I think the "Editor Kit" is the wrong title for this killer affiliate app. I'd call it an integrated eBay auction list kit because that is what it does.
The key with both the product kit and the editor kit is to make them look like they are part of your site by matching colors and by placing the units in a place where they make sense. For the Editor Kit, you can literally use it to create a listing site of your own that will then feed you referral revenue when a user clicks through and bids (or signs up for the first time so that they can bid on an auction they saw on your site's listing). It is not as elegant as the eBay Web Services API, but it is infinitely easier to execute and it's free to start and deploy.
MarketingSearch engine marketing is a great way to help generate traffic for an affiliate site and, as an eBay affiliate, it's also a direct mechanism for revenue generation.
As opposed to Google AdSense or Amazon Associates, eBay promotes the use of its affiliate program for more than just traditional content (sites and newsletters) but search (both natural and paid) as well. So with eBay you could potentially be an affiliate without even having a website. For example you could potentially use Google AdSense to buy an ad for the express purpose of linking with eBay affiliate code (for a landing page on eBay) so that you'll have the potential to earn referral revenue. eBay's terms of service do not allow affiliates to bid on the term "eBay" but just about everything else is wide open.
Using paid search to generate eBay affiliate revenue is a tricky game, though. Using Google as an example, it costs a minimum of .05 per click for a Google AdWords keyword and you'll only earn a minimum of .10 per bid (and of course that only occurs if the user actually converts and bids). So if you're not careful you could easily end up spending more on your campaign than you do actually generating revenue. That's not to say that it can't or doesn't work; you just need to be very mindful of your ROI.
By using eBay's Editor Kit, you can create your own auction listing pages, customised to fit in with any Web page.
Reporting and OptimizationAll reports are driven via Commission Junction, even for links not generated on that site. That could lead to a problem if you don't specify your shopper ID (SID) on the eBay generated links. SID is an option on all of the online tools and should be utilized to help track the actual transaction level metrics for the advance units. With all of the units and linking opportunities available it's critically important to track your affiliate progress. If something isn't working then change it — there's not shortage of options.
To state the obvious, users will bid on items that they want. It's your job to show them what they want. If you're using eBay affiliates to drive incremental revenue for an existing site then be sure to make sure that your links are contextually relevant and appeal to the products your audience is likely to want.
By showing the products that people want, you're also more likely to entice new users to register with eBay which is where you'll get a bigger revenue boost thanks to the new $20 minimum (it sure is better than waiting for 2000 bids @ $0.10 a pop isn't it?) According to eBay, "Two-thirds of all users register in order to purchase or bid on an item they want."
If you're using eBay affiliates as its own "unique" revenue generation engine (that is you're going to create a site or a search engine campaign specifically to profit from the program), you should recognize that certain categories have higher conversions than others. Thanks to eBay's commitment to growing its affiliate base, they make it easy for you to learn what the hottest categories are in a monthly report and is offered for free to affiliates.
Keys to eBay Affiliate Success
- Use Commission Junction to determine and select creative units with high earnings per click.
- Use the Editor Kit to show eBay listings
- Put units on pages where they'll be contextually relevant
- Read eBay's hot market report to choose categories with higher conversions
- Use Shopper ID (SID) to enable proper tracking
Just like eBay itself, where there are plenty of sellers that make good money from the site, the opportunity to make good money from eBay affiliates is also there. Take advantage of the Traditional media units (banners, boxes, skyscrapers, search), auction feeds from the Editor Kit and Product Kit units that eBay offers. Load them up with stuff that people want and keep monitoring, testing and adjusting to meet whatever goals you've set for your efforts.
Above all, though, be realistic with your expectations for revenue so as to avoid getting discouraged early on. At $0.10 a bid to start, it really doesn't sound like much and it certainly will not lead to overnight wealth. But with continuous improvement, new user registrations as well as bids and of course time, those dimes might very well add up to nice pile of cash.