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  1. #1
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    Noob data questions
    I had a decent experience with my first try at using datafeeds; I guess I was lucky because I ended up with data that I could do something with. So, I want to try one or two more projects, but, after examining other datafeeds, I am not sure if I should invest the time. I have a couple of questions:

    After looking at three more datafeeds, I gather that the affiliate network is the one that designs the feed (the db table), not the advertiser. But the advertiser chooses what data to supply. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    I got two feeds from CJ which I consider useless, because they contain no data one can use to group the products. The CJ feeds show three different category columns: in one of the feeds they are all blank, in the other one is filled out, but all the fields are the same - so all the products belong to one single category. Is this some kind of humor I am not getting? It looks like all they care to give you are the buy URLs and the prices.

    I got one second feed from SAS (my first project – the one I liked - was also from SAS). Like the first one, this second one has enough columns with distinct data one can use. But…

    It’s for a cigar merchant which I think would be perfect for one of my sites, and the product is one that I know a lot about. The merchant site shows very good descriptions of the cigars, but the feed is missing data for the shape, the wrapper, the length and the ring (all this data is shown on the merchant site), exactly the things a prospective buyer wants to know, especially if he/she is only looking at an image on a computer screen. So that looks like a waste of time too.

    Here are my questions:

    Is this the typical quality of datafeeds that one can expect to get?

    If you want to discuss the issue, whom do you address, the advertiser, or the aff network? Is there some kind of etiquette for this kind of thing?

    If you end up connecting with somebody, are they normally responsive?

    I would really appreciate some ideas about this.

    I hope these questions are not too dumb.

    Salud,

    Carlos

  2. #2
    Roll Tide mobilebadboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gato View Post
    After looking at three more datafeeds, I gather that the affiliate network is the one that designs the feed (the db table), not the advertiser. But the advertiser chooses what data to supply. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    That's correct. Each network has a predefined set of datafeed columns, the merchant then decides how to utilize them.

    Quote Originally Posted by gato View Post
    Is this the typical quality of datafeeds that one can expect to get?
    Through the dozens and dozens of datafeeds I've looked at, I've rarely found one that's very useable (at least without a ton of work). If it's a merchant I really want to promote I'll put forth a little time on my end to fix the feed up, although I shouldn't have to (aside from custom changes I plan to make).

    I actually just joined a golf merchant a few days ago. No categorization, no brand name designations, not even thumbnails. Luckily most of the information I required for each product was in the product name field, so with a bit of work I was able to turn a completely unuseable feed into something halfway useable (categorized products with merchant categorization). And then managed to find the correct thumbnail paths on their site from the "large image" they provided (they use thumbnails, why not provide me with them?)

    Quote Originally Posted by gato View Post
    If you want to discuss the issue, whom do you address, the advertiser, or the aff network? Is there some kind of etiquette for this kind of thing?
    If you want to discuss the quality of the feed you need to speak with the merchant/affiliate manager.

    Quote Originally Posted by gato View Post
    If you end up connecting with somebody, are they normally responsive?
    Some are, some aren't. That's pretty specific to each program and who runs it.

    I've actually started stepping away from datafeeds simply because the trouble you go through to use most of them is just not worth the time. Less promotion for the merchant (through me), but if they don't put forth any effort then I'm not going to put much forth either.

    Shawn Kerr (.com) | Disney World | SEC Football

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager BlogBonnieBlog's Avatar
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    I've toyed with a few datafeeds but like you, they can be a total crapshoot of what you'll end up with. I think they are getting better than what they were, but that is where companies like datafeedr and such are making their money because they are going in and cleaning up a lot of the feeds trying to get them all into compatible states.

    Definitely time to break out the Excel Advanced skills .

  4. #4
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    At least something good is resulting from this: I am starting to “get it” with how this datafeed business works.

    It’s disappointing to see the mentality of some merchants: why leave basic information that can help make sales, out of a datafeed? In the case of the cigar merchant, leaving out the specs for the product is like me saying “Here, you are welcome to use my car for whatever you need”, and then it turns out the car has no tires. I will be contacting the AM there, hoping to get a positive response.

    Shawn, I am OK with having to do some work to make a dataset useful for my particular scenario; but parsing out categories and other fields out of disparate and unrelated names is not trivial and probably not worth it, since these catalogs change constantly.

    Bonnie, when you say “they can be a total crapshoot”, I think you have one too many syllables in the last word. The Excel advance skills don’t mean much; it’s like trying to make a three-star fancy food recipe with half the ingredients missing. I looked at datafeedr and saw some sample sites, some showing whole pages or products with all broken image links for thumbnails – and these are the sample sites they are using to sell their product! And I thought our government was in bad shape – LOL.

    BTW, in that SAS food products project I did recently, I followed some of your suggestions. I posted for a second look in the Site/Logo/Banner Review forum on March 20; so far, there have been 15 views and zero replies – I am not sure if that is good or bad. I would love it if you could take a second look and tell me what you think. This is the thread: http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130992

    Thank you both for the replies. Have fun,

    Carlos

  5. #5
    Member vicjg's Avatar
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    The problem I have with "category" in CJ feeds, is that this is merchant defined. Meaning if two merchants have the same basic category, but name if different, they never match up.

    It would be way easier if the list of categories was standardized across all merchants in a particular network.

  6. #6
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    vicjg, that is to be expected: if you were a merchant, how would you feel about some outsider dictating how you name your categories? It's like the food police telling me not to cook with salt, as some idiot poitician in New York proposed recently.

    That kind of issue is easy to fix - it's just manipulating data a little bit. I don't think it's realistic or reasonable to expect merchants to develop a standard just for the benefit of affliates.

  7. #7
    Member vicjg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gato View Post
    vicjg, that is to be expected: if you were a merchant, how would you feel about some outsider dictating how you name your categories? It's like the food police telling me not to cook with salt, as some idiot poitician in New York proposed recently.

    That kind of issue is easy to fix - it's just manipulating data a little bit. I don't think it's realistic or reasonable to expect merchants to develop a standard just for the benefit of affliates.
    I agree, its neither realistic or reasonable, I just wanted it to be easier for me

  8. #8
    Member Prosperent's Avatar
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    There are definitely better ways to do it that makes life easier for both the affiliate and the merchant, but as much as I would like to discuss them I can't. When our full blown network launches later this year you will see.

  9. #9
    Roll Tide mobilebadboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gato View Post
    Shawn, I am OK with having to do some work to make a dataset useful for my particular scenario; but parsing out categories and other fields out of disparate and unrelated names is not trivial and probably not worth it, since these catalogs change constantly.
    This one is tolerable. Everything in the name is at least consistent enough that once I decided what I wanted, my script can run the same wildcard queries to make the changes, ie:

    Brand Name [type/model] Putter
    Brand Name [type/model] Driver
    Brand Name [type/model] Golf Bag

    So I can just wildcard the Brand Names I want and update whatever column I've chosen to use. Same with driver, putter, etc. That was about the only saving grace for this feed, or else I wouldn't have even bothered. Actually ended up with 600+ products (out of 2000+). But I only pulled the most popular Brand Names.

    Shawn Kerr (.com) | Disney World | SEC Football

  10. #10
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    Well Shawn, you did OK getting what you got from that golf merchant’s datafeed. I am not so lucky with the cigar thing, as the basic, essential data I need doesn’t show up anywhere.

    Yesterday, I sent an email to the cigar merchant - through the SAS system, since I never got a welcome message or any kind of contact info since I joined and was approved four days ago – but who knows if I will even get a reply; so far, zero.

    You want a good laugh? Here is one of the categories from the datafeed:
    . > Cigars > Acid
    Yes, I am not kidding – complete with the leading “. >”. All their categories begin with those characters. Makes one wonder if the person who does the data entry is the same one who cleans the toilets.

    Things are not looking too good with this merchant.

    I guess I’ll keep pluggin’. There must be one good one for cigars out there.

  11. #11
    Newbie Dave123's Avatar
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    I use a ticketnetwork feed from CJ, and its pretty good, as they go. The angle brackets are there for me, and can often be consistent positionally, so when I 'split' on the >, there's helpful data there. Hopefully you'll see something of a pattern, too.

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