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  1. #1
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    Company grows, affiliate EPC goes down inversely?
    This is closely related, but off topic for the Zappos discussion, so I started another thread.

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=100903

    Quote Originally Posted by Trust
    Was going thru the Summit videos, saw this one from Zappos. Search affiliates made them - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5r68olQ18g
    And commenting about the video:

    Quote Originally Posted by it2shoes
    That video says everything. Without their affiliates, Zappos had been nothing at all. So now when they are really big, they don't need us anymore (that's what they think).
    That's exactly what he said, obviously why they're trying to effectively starve affiliates out now that they've got their branding.

    But how about when a company starts out and does hugely well with affiliates, with EPC consistently over the $100 mark and the company growing by leaps and bounds. But what if as time goes on and their own organic presence grows (think something like Ebay taking up 9 out of the first 20 results for searches with a bunch of different URLs), their EPC is down to about 1/4 or 1/5 of what it was? Like instead of aff EPC $125, it's around $25-$30.

    This isn't bad for PPC affiliates (depending on the buy cycle), but how about the overall picture?

    Maybe I'm missing something.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcia
    But what if as time goes on and their own organic presence grows (think something like Ebay taking up 9 out of the first 20 results for searches with a bunch of different URLs), their EPC is down to about 1/4 or 1/5 of what it was? Like instead of aff EPC $125, it's around $25-$30.
    Why would their affiliate program EPC change just because of increased organic presence of their own website?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti
    Why would their affiliate program EPC change just because of increased organic presence of their own website?
    Figuring that there are only 10 URLs on the first page of organic search results and 20 on the first two, how does it affect search affiliates when one company takes up close to half of the available spots? Like when Ebay was doing just that, how would that have affected non-Fortune 500 affiliate sites?

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    Why would their affiliate program EPC change just because of increased organic presence of their own website?
    people see several different options in the SERPS mentioning 'company A'. Do they bite on the first click or check out other options? Clicks may go up, EPC may go down.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by simcat
    people see several different options in the SERPS mentioning 'company A'. Do they bite on the first click or check out other options? Clicks may go up, EPC may go down.
    The people aren't looking for "company A" they started out looking for underwear and now they're specifically looking for Brandname green sports socks. And out of the ten URLs on the first search page, two are Amazon, one is Ebay, one is out of stock, another is shopping.com and out of the remaining five, four belong to company A.

    And all the while they're shopping around, they're taking notes.

  6. #6
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    In my experience EPC can drop for several reasons:

    (1) Early affiliates are "low-volume, high-conversion" affiliates (including coupon sites and/or PPC trademark-poachers).

    (2) Some "internal" (staff-entered) orders are mistakenly attributed to affiliates if they are placed using a computer that's also used to view affiliate sites. As overall volume increases, this tends to have less impact or the affiliate manager stops handling orders.

    (3) Probably most important: Merchants with high EPC attract "other types of affiliates" who begin to drive more traffic with lower conversion rates to the merchant site. These are not low-quality affiliates, just a different type of affiliate (in fact, these are the "types of affiliates" that most merchants "expect" when they launch an affiliate program).

    (4) As merchants purge affiliates and reverse transactions due to trademark poaching, EPC will inevitably drop.

    On my web site, I explain that "EPC is a Bad Metric":


    > "EPC is easily manipulated, most frequently by merchants who purge affiliates with lower conversion rates, and sometimes by merchants who initiate non-affiliate transactions using affiliate links.

    "Some merchants have high EPC because they have a single successful affiliate whose success can't be replicated by other affiliates.

    "A single high-traffic affiliate with a low conversion rate can cause the EPC to plummet, distorting the figures which other affiliates see. Some merchants terminate "low-EPC" affiliates (thus sacrificing the customers those affiliates might send) in order to keep EPC high; I consider this to be a misguided and counter-productive strategy.

    "In addition, some merchants delay "reversals" of fraudulent or cancelled orders to have a deceptively high EPC; they post reversals on the last possible day."

    There have been many discussion threads on ABW about how networks might deliver "better metrics" that would more accurately predict how affiliates might reasonably expect to perform with a particular merchant. Among the ideas included were to "remove outlyers" (excluding the highest- and lowest-EPC affiliates from calculations) or to provide separate EPC figures for separate "types of affiliates."

    I noticed yesterday that one of my merchants had a thousand-dollar EPC within my account, and is displayed with a $999 EPC in their public profile. That's a huge spike in EPC which doesn't represent an "improvement" but actually "abandonment" -- I dropped all links to the merchant last month, after aggressively promoting them for a while. But three more sales trickled in from return visitors, so the two clicks tracked this month are credited with three sales generating $24.39 in commissions -- hence a 150% conversion rate, and an EPC of $1,219.
    Last edited by markwelch; February 29th, 2008 at 09:35 AM.

  7. #7
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    There have been many discussion threads on ABW about how networks might deliver "better metrics"
    And just where did I ask about network metrics or whether EPC is valid? Let me make it perfectly clear that I didn't ask, and that I don't care about such discussions in this regard. Even though you used the mere mention of EPC as an excuse to do a long post on your own choice of a topic that includes two off-topic anchor text URL drops to pages on your site, that is not the topic of this thread, which I now consider to be de-railed.

    The topic of this thread is very specifically about merchant organic search listings as they relate to EPC, which I personally happen to believe does have credibility as a measuring device, but that is not the topic of this thread. So what do I do now that it's gone so off the topic entirely, start a new thread?
    Last edited by webworker; February 29th, 2008 at 09:15 PM.

  8. #8
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    From a search POV, live notes posted on Barry's blog from a conference session on duplicate content:

    http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/013701.html

    In particular, the Yahoo rep's comments relate to what this thread is about, and how it would correspond with subsequently falling to a fraction of the EPC.

    To clarify my last post even further, this is NOT about what affiliates do, it's about what merchants do.

  9. #9
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    Since it's too late to edit and add to previous posts in this thread, just to exemplify what's going on:

    Dodgy duplication -
    - Replication content across multiple domains
    - Aggregation
    - Identical content with minimal value

    Abuse:
    - Scraper spammers, weaving/stitching, bulk cross-domain duplication, bulk duplication with small changes.
    All of these are outside our content guidelines and can lead to unanticipated results for publishers.
    How you can help us:
    * Avoid bulk duplication of underlying documents. Do search engines need all versions of pages with small variations? Use robots.txt.
    * Avoid accidental proliferation of many URLs for the same documents - sessionIDs, 404s, etc. Consider sessionID-free or cookie-free paths for crawlers. They are not abusive for our guidelines but may impair effective crawling.

    * Avoid duplication of sites across many domains.
    * When importing content from somewhere else:
    - Attribution.
    - Ask: do you have the rights to it? Are you adding value in addition or just duplicating?
    What's bolded is exactly what's going on, and there's not a doubt in the world that the engines wouldn't frown on it. Soooo... how would this relate to 1/5th of the previous EPC?

    As the number of sites has increased, so have the number of domains showing the identical products increased and appeared in the SERPs; and correspondingly, it is during this time and increase of replicated merchant domains (with identical dup content) that EPC has been steadily decreasing.

    Note: hopefully no one will scrape this concept to put on their own site and claim it as ther own idea or observation. No biggie, just thought I'd mention it as informational. And yes, I don't doubt that it could happen.

    Question directed to search affiliates:

    So how does this hogging of the SERPs by merchants with duplicated content/products across multiple domains affect your EPC and ROI? Does it help you make money and make you happy?
    Last edited by webworker; March 1st, 2008 at 04:15 AM.

  10. #10
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    It's really quite simple. With the commission cuts and numerous other changes in their program (and site policies), the best affiliates (who contributed greatly to their high EPC) have moved on to greener pastures.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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