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  1. #1
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    Changes in SAS Auto-Approval for FTP Access?
    Has there been any change in the process to set up "auto-approval" of FTP-access requests? Is this something that ShareASale merchants can now set up by themselves?

    I ask because I just submitted FTP requests for "many" ShareASale merchants (in increments of 20-40 at a time, to avoid timeout errors), and I saw a surprising number of "auto-approvals."

    Before today's round of requests, I was able to download about 170 merchants' datafeeds through ShareASale FTP. Within an hour after my latest round of FTP-access requests and the auto-approvals, my "retry-download" script has already picked up an additional 70 datafeeds.

  2. #2
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    8 of those were my hand-approved requests.

  3. #3
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    imho
    Merchants should TURN THAT OFF

  4. #4
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    Thanks, Geno (and CC) -- I appreciate that, and I did receive emails from a couple other AMs noting manual approvals, within a few minutes of my requests. But I definitely did see lots of "auto-approvals" in response to my requests.

    Since then, however, my "retry script" picked up another 27 additional datafeeds (beyond the first 70 a half-hour ago). I don't know which group your merchants were in.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 28th, 2009 at 12:49 PM.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador CCBerries's Avatar
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    I actually got two requests from you today (at the same time) on the same program.. and did the manual approval as soon as I got them.

  6. #6
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    Adam Ward wrote: > "imho // Merchants should TURN THAT OFF." <

    FYI, "FTP-access auto-approval" is definitely "off" by default. As far as I know, ShareASale requires a special request from the merchant before SAS staff sets up FTP auto-approval.

    Whether it's wise for merchants to auto-approve FTP-access requests is a separate question, suitable for its own discussion thread -- and I know it's been discussed several times on ABW. I know that Brian, like Adam, believes strongly that merchants should be cautious in granting FTP access. I disagree, and believe that any arguments against FTP access are really arguments about restricting datafeed access in any form. Since SAS makes datafeeds available for manual download to all affiliates, I think it's silly to encourage merchants to restrict FTP access to the same data.

    If we want to discuss this further, let's split this off as a separate thread.

  7. #7
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    A merchant can set auto approve "rules" so they don't have to manually approve affiliates that fall into certain criteria.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  8. #8
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    Mark, you realize it costs each of those merchants a fee when they approve you for ftp access right? Are you actually going to be promoting ALL those merchants? Or are you using the feeds for something else?
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager ReneeM's Avatar
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    I did two manual approvals for you today as well

  10. #10
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    merchants should restrict access because it can easilly cost them much much more than the nominal fee that SAS charges. That data should be treated as a trade secret and only given to a proven affiliate who requests access based on use of promoting that merchant. It's assinibe to give 'anyone' access to the merchant's lifeline!! IMHO
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  11. #11
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    Has there been any change in the process to set up "auto-approval" of FTP-access requests? Is this something that ShareASale merchants can now set up by themselves?

    I ask because I just submitted FTP requests for "many" ShareASale merchants (in increments of 20-40 at a time, to avoid timeout errors), and I saw a surprising number of "auto-approvals."

    Before today's round of requests, I was able to download about 170 merchants' datafeeds through ShareASale FTP. Within an hour after my latest round of FTP-access requests and the auto-approvals, my "retry-download" script has already picked up an additional 70 datafeeds.

    Mark, I received your requests today for FTP to ALL our programs. As others have stated, we do not auto approve FTP for numerous reasons.

    Are you going to load all 170 datafeeds you have gotten onto sites to generate traffic?

    In my particular case, i'm not speaking for anyone else, or implying anything negative - but you are not on our "affiliate radar" in any of our programs.

    It may just be that you haven't gotten around to promoting them yet though ..
    Andy Rodriguez Consulting, Affiliate Program Management and Consulting Services, Since 2001
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  12. #12
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    markwelch,

    be careful when scripting the ftp server... repeated retry/fails could trigger being locked out of the account which could obviously be fixed but would cause a delay in your downloads, etc...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  13. #13
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haiko de Poel, Jr.
    merchants should restrict access because it can easilly cost them much much more than the nominal fee that SAS charges. That data should be treated as a trade secret and only given to a proven affiliate who requests access based on use of promoting that merchant. It's assinibe to give 'anyone' access to the merchant's lifeline!! IMHO
    Having been on both ends, I think there needs to be some middle ground. I understand the arguments that without any feeds, a datafeed-based aff will have a hard time meeting the obstacle of becoming proven.

    And, I don't see how it should be a trade secret--what's in the merchant's feed is also right there on their site for the world to see. And the info's likely in Froogle, too. It may make things more *convenient* for unsavories if they are able to download it as a prepared feed, but if they're tech-savvy and want that data, they'll just spider the site if they can't get a feed. So, while there are points to restrictions, security isn't likely to be helped that way, at least not against crooks who have the right programs.

    On the other hand, I know what it's like to have a zillion people who don't even know the "a" in "a href", or who are great at the technical side (but don't know how to actually get sales), or just have no intentions of doing any real promotion, applying for FTP access just because they can. This is a PITA and those $1s not only add up, it's irritating. It's like having 100s of people saying, "give me a buck so I can burn it in front of you!"

    Perhaps if the affiliate had to have shown a certain level of performance in the network (rather than at a particular merchant) before they could even apply for FTP, it would weed out the useless apps.

    Those who want to play around, or who need clues, can practice with a free-to-all nonFTP version. A need for feeds I can see. A need to FTP them? There isn't, at least not at first. A non-FTP method would be fine to make a site good enough to get to a level of performance which should convince most merchants.
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  14. #14
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    Haiko wrote: > "merchants should restrict access because it can easilly cost them much much more than the nominal fee that SAS charges. That data should be treated as a trade secret and only given to a proven affiliate who requests access based on use of promoting that merchant. It's assinibe to give 'anyone' access to the merchant's lifeline!! IMHO" <

    I agree: a datafeed can be valuable proprietary data, and merchants should think carefully before choosing to release it as a datafeed through their affiliate program.

    But I'm referring only to merchants who already have datafeeds available to be downloaded (thus any competitor seeking the 'secret' product data has easy access to it). The question isn't whether the data is available, it's whether the data is accessible via FTP (which certainly makes things easier for some affiliates).
    Last edited by markwelch; January 28th, 2009 at 04:09 PM.

  15. #15
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    Andy asked: > * * * "Are you going to load all 170 datafeeds you have gotten onto sites to generate traffic? " <

    I absolutely do not expect that I will be incorporating all of the datafeeds into my sites. Of course, some feeds (not yours) turn out to be garbage (littered with unavailable products, invalid pricing, or worse). I'm also sure that I won't get around to many product categories this quarter or perhaps even this year. Indeed, I'm reluctant to suggest any schedule, because of the many interruptions and delays that I've experienced with prior efforts. But...

    According to PopShops, I currently include products from 206 ShareASale merchants on at least one of my sites using PopShops, plus products from an additional 162 merchants from other networks (CJ, GAN, LC, and Bridaluxe). I intend to gradually migrate all my current PopShops domains into my new solution (along with some new domains). That doesn't include my non-PopShops sites, although I don't share much information about my successful niche sites. If you're not seeing traffic or sales from my sites in your merchants' stats, then of course I'm not generating traffic or sales there.

    I won't pretend that those PopShops sites are generating meaningful traffic or sales. In the past 18 months, I've generated very little traffic or revenue through any affiliate network, and not much more through non-network affiliate programs. (I count only 19 transactions through ShareASale so far in January 2009, compared to 280 transactions in May 2007.) I expect that to change, significantly, in the next 90 days.

    (FYI, I see that I now have access to 305 ShareASale datafeeds, up from only 170 earlier today.)
    Last edited by markwelch; January 28th, 2009 at 04:21 PM.

  16. #16
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    Loxly wrote: > "A merchant can set auto approve "rules" so they don't have to manually approve affiliates that fall into certain criteria." <

    Debbie: Thank you! (I'm sorry to say that in responding to other comments, I almost forgot to thank you for answering my question.) I wasn't aware of this capability for ftp-access, only for initial affiliate approval.

    Yes, I am aware that ShareASale inexplicably charges the merchant a $1 fee for each affiliate approved for ftp access. While that is a real fee, which could add up to "real money," it's nominal and I believe it's intended primarily to force merchants to "think twice" before approving FTP access (it's a one-time fee only). I agree that as an affiliate, I'd gladly pay a $1-per-merchant fee to have FTP access to merchant datafeeds (and if so, I might have excluded one or two dozen merchants from my requests today), but that wouldn't fulfill the purpose for which I believe it's charged.

  17. #17
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    Well, you cost merchants a total of $305 today, I hope you make them each $1 so they can get that back. Individually for you it may not seem like much, but if every affiliate decides to do what you are doing (blanket apply to hundreds of feeds) then it may have an impact on whether merchants keep handing out ftp access, or if they start to require sales from using the manual download method first.

    Just pointing out some possible side effects that you may not have considered when you went through and applied to the whole world....
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  18. #18
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    Maybe Brian should charge the affiliate rather than the merchant



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  19. #19
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    > "Well, you cost merchants a total of $305 today, I hope you make them each $1 so they can get that back." <

    I hope I make that money back for the merchants, too -- many times over. But technically I only cost merchants $135 today (the other 170 paid their $1 each on earlier dates).

    (FYI, I specifically noted in my FTP requests that merchants are required to pay ShareASale the $1 fee per affiliate, for approving ftp access. That doesn't seem to be mentioned in ShareASale's own email that accompanies the request, but it's probably disclosed in the interface.)

    An interesting observation: my best performance from any ShareASale affiliate program came after I obtained a merchant's permission to "scrape" product data from the merchant's web site, thus creating my own datafeed. (That solution doesn't work for merchants whose inventory and pricing change often.)

    It's possible that if I added all my sales that arose from my use of ShareASale datafeeds (including PopShops), it might not total $1,000. (In earlier years, I made many, many times that by using datafeeds through Kowabunga, before they self-immolated.)


    > "Maybe Brian should charge the affiliate rather than the merchant" <

    My understanding is that the $1 fee is intended to force the merchant to think twice -- charging the fee to the affiliate wouldn't have that effect. As I wrote:
    > "I agree that as an affiliate, I'd gladly pay a $1-per-merchant fee to have FTP access to merchant datafeeds (and if so, I might have excluded one or two dozen merchants from my requests today), but that wouldn't fulfill the purpose for which I believe it's charged.[/i]" <

    In fairness, I should withdraw the word "gladly," as I'm never glad to pay a fee; I would willingly pay the fee, though.

    FYI, I'm being very verbose this afternoon because I'm just sitting here watching hundreds of thousands of product records being filtered and imported into my database from those 305 ShareASale datafeeds.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 28th, 2009 at 06:46 PM.

  20. #20
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    What can one do if merchants don't reply to FTP access? I am new to this forum so will need help from the more experienced ones. I know I can move on to others but none from my category have given me access yet. Normally how long would it take?

    I thought the faster access is granted the quicker I can acccess the products and generate more sales. Just a bit confused...

    Is the $1 fee per feed the issue?


    Thanks

  21. #21
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    While some merchants do mention the $1 fee, I think the main issue is just that many merchants don't take the time to review and respond to ftp requests. (Some may not even receive the FTP request email, if they've failed to update SAS of a staff or email address change.)

    Note that SAS does not send any automated message regarding approval of FTP requests, and many merchants don't realize that they need to write to let you know they've approved your request. Instead, you'll just notice that the merchant has granted FTP access when you either check the ftp directory or when you view the list of FTP merchants.

    Try sending an email to the affiliate program manager, explaining how you intend to use the merchant's datafeed.

    In the past, I've seen a response rate well below 50% to FTP requests. It seemed better this time around, but I haven't measured closely.

  22. #22
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    Is the $1 cost to the merchant ongoing or one-time?
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesehead
    Is the $1 cost to the merchant ongoing or one-time?
    One Time

  24. #24
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    Just to follow up on this thread regarding getting ftp-access approval from ShareASale merchants.

    I am seeing many more "auto-approvals" of FTP access by ShareASale merchants. Every couple of weeks, I re-submit FTP-access requests to those merchants who haven't responded to earlier requests, and each time I see a few more auto-approvals, as well as some manual approvals.

    My automated system (finally in preliminary live testing) currently is able to download datafeeds using ftp from 544 ShareASale merchants, but not from another 300+ merchants who are listed as offering datafeeds through ShareASale.

    As always, it's important to recognize that some of these datafeeds are of very poor quality, some are horrifically out-of-date, and some of the merchants simply can't convert (or don't track properly).

  25. #25
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    my $.05 worth

    I manual approve affiliates for data feed access but I think i have only turned down one affiliate ever.

    One thing i have had trouble with is that SAS does not automaticaly send out an approval email when the affiliate is approved and here in comes the dig.

    I send out an email letting the affiliate know they have been approved and get about 2-4% bouncing!!

    So it not only cost me a $1 but the affiliate does not even know he was approved.

    Brian why cant u send out a email when the affiliate is apporved for the data feed?
    Richard
    Affiliate Marketing Manager AMWSO
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