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  1. #1
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    Hosting images from datafeed on your own server
    Hello everyone,

    I've seen some good looking affiliate datafeed based sites hosting product images on their own host, and I was curious, are there any advantages to this? (seo or usability?) I have already written a multi curl image downloader that downloads all the images from a database, but still, there are datafeeds with 100k+ products, so I just wanted to ask you experts to confirm that this extra effort is worth it.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    I do it for usability reasons, in particular to reduce the page download size and to reduce the number of image 404's. If you are mixing up a lot of different merchant images on one page, then the likelihood that one of those merchant's image servers will be down and mess up your page increases.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  3. #3
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    I agree with isellstuff. Hosting the images yourself gives you many benefits including:

    - Resizing them to the same dimensions or a consistent format
    - Serve them faster / more consistently since you are in control. You can also use a Content Delivery Network down the road to make this part even faster
    - Merchants may not mind as much but in general I have heard sites complain of direct links to images since it is using that site's bandwidth.

    Number one reason for me though is usability. In affiliate marketing it is typically all about the images so you want to make sure those load as fast as possible. If you are at the mercy of many merchant's sites chances are you will always be dealing with slow and/or down image loading issues.

    Good luck!

    Tom

  4. #4
    Affiliate Manager ParadigmWilliam's Avatar
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    I host the images just because I have complete control over them. Plus if for some reason the image server they are using goes down your site looks bad. And what everyone else is saying above.

    It just is better in the long run.
    [URL="http://www.manageaffiliatelinks.com/"][COLOR="Red"][B]Manage Affiliate Links[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Redirect Dead, Expired, or Broken Links

    [URL="http://www.wpcoupon.com/"][COLOR="Blue"][B]WP Coupon[/B][/COLOR][/URL] - Turn Wordpress into a Coupon Site!

  5. #5
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    Thank you all for all your input, those are all good points, I can now be sure this extra effort of downloading images and hosting them on my own server is not futile.

  6. #6
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Just make sure you have permission from the merchant because there may be some copyright issues involved.

    Don't ask me how I know.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.

  7. #7
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    Some merchants have specific terms in their TOS disallowing this too.

  8. #8
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianDave View Post
    Some merchants have specific terms in their TOS disallowing this too.
    *ALWAYS* check with the merchant before hosting images yourself. All of my managed merchants don't allow you to self host images for *many* reasons.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by loxly View Post
    *ALWAYS* check with the merchant before hosting images yourself. All of my managed merchants don't allow you to self host images for *many* reasons.
    I am curious what reasons your merchants have for preventing hosting images on an affiliate site. If you could highlight a few reasons I would appreciate it.

    From purely a technical point of view it would never make sense to pull images from multiple merchants sites due to slow/down merchant sites, multiple DNS lookups, etc.

    Thanks.

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    So I will ask the question, how do you go about downloading and resizing 20,000+ images ??
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kse View Post
    So I will ask the question, how do you go about downloading and resizing 20,000+ images ??
    This is a good question. I suggest reading this thread:
    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=129693

    Also, I don't join Affiliate programs run by manufacturers. They tend to have tighter restrictions on trademark/copyright because they are really concerned about their brand.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador kse's Avatar
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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff View Post
    This is a good question. I suggest reading this thread:
    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=129693

    Also, I don't join Affiliate programs run by manufacturers. They tend to have tighter restrictions on trademark/copyright because they are really concerned about their brand.
    MERCHANTS: Start showing your coupons directly on your site, that way your shoppers will stop leaving your site looking for them!! If not then remove your Coupon Box!!

  13. #13
    http and a telephoto
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomgiant View Post
    I am curious what reasons your merchants have for preventing hosting images on an affiliate site. If you could highlight a few reasons I would appreciate it.

    From purely a technical point of view it would never make sense to pull images from multiple merchants sites due to slow/down merchant sites, multiple DNS lookups, etc.

    Thanks.
    There are already entire threads on this issues but the main ones are:
    1. Image changes on merchant site and isn't updated on affiliate site
    2. Images are regulated by copyright and trademark issues and may need to be changed on merchant site
    3. Product is changed and requires updated image
    4. Product is pulled, image needs to be pulled and on merchant site is replaced with "Image not available" and it is still on affiliate site, causing multiple customer service issues and possible legal issues
    5. Sales images are used that are updated by merchant and not updated by affiliate.

    That's just for starters. Merchants should have enough bandwidth to handle the image calls, and *many* TOS state you cannot host the images on your own server.

    If the images in the datafeed are not loading quickly or are not sized properly, that is something to address with the merchant because chances are it is impacting their own site performance and your ability to convert once the shopper hits their site.

    Some of our merchants are moving images off to image management services, and that makes it even more important to use the image links in the datafeeds and not even use the images on the merchant site.

  14. #14
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    Loxly saved me some time and trouble by posting the same concerns that I was going to mention.

    If you think your site would benefit from having (affiliate-datafeed) images hosted locally, I think you'd need to take some significant extra steps to insure that the images are current. Merchants don't need to update their datafeeds when images change, so it's not as easy to determine when an image needs to be updated.

    As noted, some merchants may simply not permit you to host their copyrighted images on your server. Others may be upset at the bandwidth & server usage if your server downloads thousands of images that your visitors will likely never actually view.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for your reply loxly and mark.

    I suspect as isellstuff mentioned the larger issue is control of brand or copyright / trademark. I appreciate for some merchants they need this level of control. It does seem like a slippery slope for a merchant to try to control their brand or copyright but allowing affiliates to post their product images in any form elsewhere.

    I personally need to use self-hosted images so thanks for reminding me to check TOS for this clause

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Interestingly enough, Google product search is doing the same, dynamic resize and image cache on their images. Here is what their image urls look like:

    http://base0.googlehosted.com/base_media?q=http://www.improvementdirect.com/imagebase/resized/x800/Dewaltimages/DC759KA_1.jpg&size=18&dhm=39b619be&hl=en


    You can see that the first request turns around and calls improvementdirect, then subsequent calls come from their CDN layer.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

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