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  1. #1
    Newbie Domains's Avatar
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    Question Feed Provider Suggestions/Recommendations
    Hello all,

    I would greatly appreciate anyone's feedback. I'm looking for an affiliate feed provider for a project I'm building out. I have evaluated PopShops, and they seemed like it'd be a good fit, but at the level of traffic for this project, we'd be at an enterprise level that would cost $399/month. I know they have the first month free as a trial, but i don't want to go through the trouble of integrating all the API and code, until I actually get this project live and have a chance to see how the traffic monetizes on affiliate offers, and whether it justifies the cost/budget

    Therefore I'd rather start out on a free or lower cost provider, and wondering if anyone could provide recommendations.

    Basically just need someone that will provide an XML datafeed for a wide range of products, that we will integrate into a landing page template which will filter dynamically to pull in the most contextually relevant products based on the URL the visitor lands on and the content of that page. All our traffic is organic and/or type-in, nothing bought or arbitraged, fwiw.

    thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador boningroup's Avatar
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    It only cost $29.99 a month. Not $399 a month.
    Danny W Bonin Jr
    Bonin Group, Inc.

  3. #3
    Newbie Domains's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boningroup View Post
    It only cost $29.99 a month. Not $399 a month.
    it depends on the amount of calls to their server. we're getting about 125,000 unique visitors a month, and I was quoted that price directly via email from popshops.

    see their section on API fair usage limit here

    The Data Pack API provides for fair usage of up to 5,000 API server requests per month with standard Data Pack API subscription.

    .... For pricing on higher volume server request quota please contact us
    anyone else have input on alternatives? thanks

  4. #4
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Holy cow. Didn't realize they got that expensive. Although I suppose with product images, the API can be a little taxing.

    Do you have any API and PHP experience on your own? At that price point, it may well be worth looking into building your own solution, and at that traffic level, I think you can justify it as well.
    Kevin Webster
    twitter: levelanalytics

    Kayak Fishing
    Web Analytics and Affiliate Marketing

  5. #5
    Newbie Domains's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    Holy cow. Didn't realize they got that expensive. Although I suppose with product images, the API can be a little taxing.

    Do you have any API and PHP experience on your own? At that price point, it may well be worth looking into building your own solution, and at that traffic level, I think you can justify it as well.
    Well i have a developer I'm working with to handle all the heavy lifting, so the code work is not an issue, the problem right now is just finding a feed aggregator to integrate with, in other words we need a company to provide a datafeed for a wide range of products because we want to push affiliate offers out across a range of different sites in our network (business, computers, sports, entertainment, outdoors, etc, etc)

  6. #6
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    You indicate that you have 125,000 unique visitors per month, and that PopShops indicated that the cost for API access at that volume is $400.

    As I mentioned in another thread (where you also posted), I've assumed that by caching API results locally, only a fraction of pageviews would trigger a fresh API call. Since most merchants don't update more than once every 24 hours, and PopShops probably doesn't update individual merchants' data even that fast, I assumed that I'd cache each API result set for at least 24 hours.

    Of course, this depends entirely on the distribution of your traffic, which would determine the number of unique API calls you'd generate. Looking at a one-month slice of traffic for one niche site, there are:
    • ~54,000 pageviews total, but only
    • ~2,600 unique pages were viewed;
    • ~500 pages were viewed only once during the month;
    • ~2,100 unique pages were viewed more than once during the month;
    • ~450 pages were viewed more than 30 times during the month.


    I suspect that with 24-hour caching of API results, I'd probably generate fewer than 15,000 API calls to PopShops (if I used its API for this site, which I don't -- my site actually uses static pages which are re-generated by a script after each database update cycle).
    Last edited by markwelch; November 3rd, 2011 at 03:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Member soda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Domains View Post
    Well i have a developer I'm working with to handle all the heavy lifting, so the code work is not an issue, the problem right now is just finding a feed aggregator to integrate with, in other words we need a company to provide a datafeed for a wide range of products because we want to push affiliate offers out across a range of different sites in our network (business, computers, sports, entertainment, outdoors, etc, etc)
    $399 / mo is still WAY cheaper than hiring a developer. And no, one developer will not be able to create a platform even close to PopShops in a matter of even a year. Not possible.

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  9. #8
    The affiliate formerly known as ojmoo
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    Soda,

    Maybe I'm a bit jaded since I am a programmer. But it costs the same for a developer to handle 100 products and a million products. And it should be as easy for a developer to deal with data from popshops as it is from datafeeds. It might even be easier from datafeeds because there is little overhead to learn.

    Simply put what you do (and I have done it) write one function to convert a datafeed from each of the networks (b/c each uses a slightly different datafeed structure) into a database so all the data is the same. A good programmer will also build in some sort of bad data checker, so products without product names or images are discarded.

    Then you call the appropriate function with the name of the datafeed. (You call say the datafeed from merchant Torrid with the cj function, and the one from kmart with the gan function. This is simple and it works.

    The final step is to query the database for the products you need and display the product.

    That's all there is to it. It works for 100 products or a million products and once you have it set up you don't have to pay the developer another fee (well not for this anyway. Also a good developer should provide a way for the client to add a new merchant as they become available by themselves. i.e. without having to contact or pay the developer.

    My point is getting the information in is simple if you know what your doing or you are paying a developer. If they can't do this, then you are being ripped off.

    I suppose popshops is good for people who don't know what they are doing, but if you are hiring a developer and he doesn't know something as simple as 1) filling up a database with information and 2) retrieving that information to display a product on the screen than you have much more expensive problems than paying $300 a month for popshops. Somewhere, somehow this developer is wasting you money.

    IMHO
    Expert who says Moo

    a.k.a. OJMOO

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  10. #9
    Member soda's Avatar
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    Oranges, I am a developer too, working with data feeds in particular, and it's not as easy as just download and parse the feeds. If it was, I'd be done with it 3 months ago.
    Hard part is merging feeds and finding duplicate items from multiple merchants. With how bad quality of feeds is, this is not an easy task.

  11. #10
    The affiliate formerly known as ojmoo
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    Soda, the big problem with datafeeds is missing data. i.e. color or size information. But using popshops is not going to get that information for you. They don't add info that is not in the original datafeed. There are also problems like you want dresses and you get a few socks or shirts products because there are dress shirts and dress socks.

    Popshops don't solve these types of problem. As a developer you'll still have to handle these problems, you'll just have to do it through the popshop interface/API. This adds an extra layer of complexity. If you hire a professional developer than using popshops is an added cost because the developer should know what to do without them. Popshops should never make it easier for a professional developer
    Expert who says Moo

    a.k.a. OJMOO

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  12. #11
    Member soda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oranges View Post
    Popshops don't solve these types of problem. As a developer you'll still have to handle these problems, you'll just have to do it through the popshop interface/API. This adds an extra layer of complexity. If you hire a professional developer than using popshops is an added cost because the developer should know what to do without them. Popshops should never make it easier for a professional developer
    You have trade offs either way. Either you pay $400/mo for a service that has issues, or you spend 4-6 months developing such service from scratch, and you still have all sorts of issues. If I was a small company trying to get into this, I'd start by using PopShops and just ignoring or manually fixing issues like sock dresses and dress socks. All I'm saying is that you will have these problems anyway but you will end up spending upfront a lot of money just to get affiliate sales going, while with PopShops you can (I assume, never used it) get it going pretty quickly and not spend lots of development time. Especially if you're developing locally in CA, not outsourcing to 3rd world.

  13. #12
    The affiliate formerly known as ojmoo
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    This will be my last message on the topic, so if you post again you will have the last word :-) If you are doing this alone without a developer than you should use popshops b/c you don't know what you are doing. But the problem is not the bad datafeeds. It is very very very simple to get the data out of a datafeed and into a database what can be easily manipulated. I do maintain that each network has its own format and so you should have a single function for each instead of one big function that handles all of them. If the datafeed is bad for whatever reason, that getting the data from popshops is not going to make it any better. If the datafeed is really bad then don't use it. Some merchants have idiosynchrancies that have to be deal with with a sub function. i.e. the title of the product also contains the name of the manufacturer. YOu might need to remove that b/c you name the manufacturer already and this would list it twice giving an unprofessional appearance. But regardless it takes the same degree of difficulty (are even less) to get the product information out of your own database than from popshops. Its pretty much a similar query. Once you get the data out its a simple matter to place it on the screen. The actual messaging of the data whether it comes from popshops or from a database is at least the same. I actually maintain its easier to deal with it from a database, b/c you have full control over the database and you can even eliminate what you don't want while building the database making the process easier.

    When you use your own database, you can do anything you want. But with popshops you are limited to what popshops lets you do. There is no advantage to pay for popshops if you are paying a developer. If the developer is any good and not trying to rip you off then it shouldn't cost you any more than a nominal charge which should be lass than what would have been the first $400 payment.

    You don't pay popshops if you have a developer create an original site. If he/she isn't messaging the data, displaying products, making the structure of the site then what are you paying him/her at all for. You pay popshops, if you are doing it yourself and you don't know exactly what you are doing. Popshops (and other companies like it) is for people who want to do it themselves and don't know what they are doing. But to tell me that you should use popshops because some of the datafeeds are terrible is silly. Getting the data from popshops is not going to make the data you are getting any better.

    My final word on the subject is that if the developer you have hired can't get the data out of a datafeed and into a database in a short time, then you are wasting you money anyway. Also with any luck your developer knows enough about databases so that it can be optimized for quickest retrieval of your specific needs which probably is not possible with popshops.

    The last word is yours.
    Expert who says Moo

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  15. #13
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    Can it be mine?

    I'm small potatoes here. I mean I get the traffic (and then some) but I'm not primarily selling items and because I'm in a niche -- and just the one for now -- other than 1 or 2 specific merchants, I only need partial feeds from most merchants.

    Aside from iTunes (I have a developer account, but haven't really delved into it, but didn't have much luck with the smaller, flat feeds) it has been relatively easy for me to combine feeds on a LAMP server. In my case, I maintain a separate DB per merchant (though I don't really need to) and have created a common format so that I can easily map CJ, LS and PJ merchants and even Amazon.com (via a proprietary script I created to make the API calls). Each network provides the data in a different way, both in format and delivery, but once you can map out each type of feed into the common database format, it's pretty darn simple to add/remove merchants.

    But like I said, I'm small potatoes and I'm just 'beginning' to develop a storefront based on the database (the intent wasn't initially for a storefront per se).

    So I'd have to side with you when I don't think it's that difficult and it really shouldn't be THAT expensive to do on your own by way of freelancing it out to someone, at least comparatively speaking to $400/mo (which I do tend to clear personally, but not enough to justify spending that much to do so).

    But I also would give consideration as to the number of calls being made. I haven't looked into PopShops but from my own experience, in the worst case, I need to pull 5 CSVs for each merchant on PJ because of how they work, but I wouldn't need to do that more than once a day. For my implementation, I wouldn't want to do it more than once a day. In fact, it irks me when merchants update their inventory multiple times a day (and I have a few on CJ that do).

    Just remember it's in PopShops best interest to sell you on whatever the most expensive subscription is. Most services don't mind you upgrading when you need to, so always best to start small and expand as you need -- or seek out other methods if it's not cost effective.

    But again, I say this not knowing much about their service. I've only used them to query their own database to find potential merchants for my niche.

  16. #14
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    maybe I should clarify my original post, as after having done a fair amount of research, I realize that I left this one particular word out of my original description. and that word is ... aggregator.

    so in fact, i was not just looking for an affiliate datafeed service, but what I thought i would need (or would like to have) is a service that provides an aggregate of many different affiliate datafeeds from different merchants. sorry if that was not clear from the get go.

    now I am not so sure. It would still be ideal, but maybe it is just as well to integrate to a single "big box" merchant who offers a single datafeed with as many different products/categories as possible (i.e. - walmart)

  17. #15
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    i was looking at FeedShare today, but i'm not entirely sure they are still in operation. i checked their 'featured affiliates' page of examples, and not one of the sites was either still resolving, or still using the feedshare feeds, which does not instill any confidence in me. also, the images in the product feeds in their demo stores are straight out of the 90's (really horrible looking images)
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; November 15th, 2011 at 12:12 PM. Reason: Newbies are not allowed to add links to their posts

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