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  1. #1
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    Splitting Our Commissions Up - Which Networks Have This Ability?
    Was just reading somebody's blog post about it, thinking about implementing it at SAS. I haven't kept up with it, I know there is some other name they're calling it to make it more passable, think it starts with the letter A (attribution?) But it's basically splitting commissions up.

    I know SAS has this ability.

    Does anybody know what other networks do? I'm sure there are more.

    In a nutshell, it's up to each merchant if they want to implement it. I know I don't want anything to do with such a merchant for the reasons given in thread(s) below. To each his own. But what I do want, is some sort of clear indication of the merchants who do participate. If I go to join a merchant, it should be very clear they split commissions.

    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/affil...ng-133978.html

    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/midni...ale-90416.html
    Last edited by Trust; May 9th, 2013 at 05:44 PM.

  2. #2
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    We offer shared attribution functionality (and more) through AvantMetrics.

    If a merchant is doing this it's disclosed on their program details.

    We present this option when merchants want to remove ALL coupon sites based on assumptions and not on actual data (eg, merchants often just assume deal sites are setting a cookie after checkout process has been initiated, but they don't know for sure because they don't have click stream/path to purchase insight with standard network reporting).

    For people who run a coupon/deal site in AvantLink, this has probably saved you from being removed from several programs altogether.
    Last edited by GravityFed; May 9th, 2013 at 05:56 PM. Reason: more info


  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply.

    I went to that link, saw a quote from AffiliateCrew, checked out some merchants at Avantlink, like Little Giant Ladder, not sure if they're using it.

    Is it right in front where the Action Commission: 10.00% is? Or is it buried in the Terms and Conditions?

    I don't remember ever seeing it, so do you know of any merchants on your network currently using it, so I can check out the terms and see how they have it setup, so I know what to look for in the future. Thanks.

  4. #4
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    Trust, if you login and go to merchant details by clicking "Merchants" on the main menu, the notice will be below the fold on those pages just above the apply link.

    BTW it does not look like Little Giant is using AvantMetrics. Login: https://www.avantlink.com/affiliate/...rchantId=10025

  5. #5
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    Is there one you know of off hand, so I don't have to click thru all the merchants? I tried some of the one's I'm partnered with, not seeing it. Thanks.

  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager p3steve's Avatar
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    Just another example why Avantlink is ahead of the game. The tools that are provided are just top of the line.
    Steven Remington | P3 Pro Swing Affiliate Manager
    207-356-1294 | skype: p3.steve
    [URL="http://www.avantlink.com/affiliates/affiliate-application/?mi=12051"]Join Our Affiliate Program Today![/URL]

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  8. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    As an affiliate we've experienced the "shared attribution" with the Carousel Checks program at AvantLink. So I know they use it - unfortunately the tracking doesn't always get it right.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    As an affiliate we've experienced the "shared attribution" with the Carousel Checks program at AvantLink. So I know they use it - unfortunately the tracking doesn't always get it right.
    Thanks, now that I know of a merchant using it, I can see how it's setup.

    So, with Avantlink, it's listed on the terms page as:
    Attribution Model:

    That's what I was looking for. Thanks to Avantlink for making it clear.

    So I guess you can do this on CJ as well, since they have the same terms at CJ. Except, it's harder to find. They put it in the "Search Campaigns - Special Instructions for Search Marketing Publishers" Even tho you might not be doing any PPC, I imagine those terms will still apply. I'm going to have to go check past sales on this one.

    I notice they also offer coupons, which helps along that commission splitting scenario.

    I'm in CJ, looking at 2 other check merchants,


    Carousel Checks - has the lowest EPC
    Checks In The Mail
    Check SuperStore

    Now it very well could be something else, but the commission splitting merchant has the lowest EPC.

    "unfortunately the tracking doesn't always get it right"

    Yes, that was one of the possible issues brought up, in some threads from years ago.

    The system as we know it from the dawn of affiliate marketing, let's say it pays out X. If a new system comes along, and they can pay out less, they'll do it. It it paid out more, they would probably stick with the old system.
    Last edited by Trust; May 9th, 2013 at 08:29 PM.

  10. #9
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tRUST
    ......"unfortunately the tracking doesn't always get it right"

    Yes, that was one of the possible issues brought up, in some threads from years ago.......
    More than "possible" issues. We were seeing about one third of the "shared" transactions attributing coupons to us - and we do not do coupons, ever - so we moved most of that traffic elsewhere.

    Of the three programs you listed...
    Lowest EPC - not surprising - I don't think they have a full time manager any longer.
    CITM - lowest commissions - but some unique offerings sell very well.
    CSS - program is rockin' and rollin' since it was taken over by GHC. Great selection and pricing - and the parasites are nearly all gone.
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  12. #10
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    But that last check program might be going over to commission splitting as well. He talked about it on his blog. Take note of the EPC, let's see if it happens, and then if it does, let's check the EPC again months down the line. See if it goes up, down, remains steady. Will be an interesting little case study. I know where I would put my money on that one.

    Affiliate networks serve both affiliates and merchants. Merchants would love nothing more to pay out less and would love to find networks with this ability. So in order to stay competitive to get those merchants, I see more and more networks offering this. Good for merchants. For affiliates? I'm not buying it. But it'll be packaged/marketed as something good for affiliates.

    And you see it in this thread:
    "For people who run a coupon/deal site in AvantLink, this has probably saved you from being removed from several programs altogether."

    Terms like saving me. I like Avantlink, easily one of the better networks out there and the people behind it, even moreso since they finally got PopShops active but that still reads as marketing to me. I watched the video and it's not just coupon sites. Read some of the old threads, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes there are many touches before a final purchase. Merchants own PPC, newsletter, positions in the SERPS, add in other affiliate touches. It could end up with your affiliate commission getting sliced and diced. Even possibly the pure play content affiliates. With them, it's the old evil couponer angle that I see being used. But again, that content traffic can be attributed elsewhere as well, if the merchant decides it to be.

    Some of this was talked about a little deeper in those 2 threads I linked too, also some other threads here and elsewhere.
    Last edited by Trust; May 9th, 2013 at 09:36 PM.

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  14. #11
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Yes, there will indeed be a "spin" put on it.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  15. #12
    Influencer Marketing GravityFed's Avatar
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    I wanted to be thorough in my response so I could not get to this right away yesterday.

    Bill, I am not sure what you mean. Could you please be more specific? The attribution component of Carousel Checks works as stated in their terms:

    This program utilizes custom affiliate attribution logic known as the Introducer/Influencer/Checkout Influencer model. Under this model, affiliate commission payouts may vary depending on when an affiliate referral takes place. Specifically:

    * Affiliates who refer a customer at any point before the customer enters the checkout process and are the last affiliate to refer the customer before the sale/transaction takes place will receive 100% of their normal affiliate commission.

    * Affiliates that refer a customer after the customer has already entered the checkout process will receive 30% of their normal commission if the customer completes the transaction within 60 minutes of the referral. The other 70% of the commission will go to the affiliate who last referred the customer before the customer entered the checkout process (if one exists).

    Please contact the affiliate program manager with any questions about the details of this attribution model.


    We have created this logic:

    Introducer: Classification for publisher referrals introducing the customer to the path to purchase.
    Influencer: Classification for publisher who does not introduce, but interacts with customer, (ie, sets a cookie) at some point during path to purchase.
    Checkout Influencer: Classification for publisher who sets a cookie after the checkout process has been initiated on path to purchase.

    Merchants configure a specific URL in the logic which identifies when checkout initiates. Once that happens, there is a 60 minute window where attribution can occur.

    Side notes:

    It's no secret that for several years now merchants have been removing coupon/deal sites, essentially based on assumptions. I watched merchants remove loyal publishers driving 10s of 1000s a month in sales simply because they "thought" the publisher was cannibalizing existing customers. (IE, customer opening another tab once customer notices a redemption/deal code field in checkout, and goes out searching for "merchantname coupons".)

    Making these kinds of knee jerk decisions w/out having the analytics does not make business sense. Traditionally from Affiliate networks there has never been insight into the entire path-to-purchase with last click reporting. This was one of the primary motivators for developing AvantMetrics...to provide detailed click stream data/reporting that allows for attribution.

    Merchants are encouraged to collect 30-days worth of data before setting business rules around attribution. That provides the insight necessary to make informed decisions. For example maybe they have tight management controls and find that publishers are only tagged as "Checkout Influencer" 10% of the time. In that case they might not worry about attribution at all.

    Suppose the opposite. A merchant that's been on auto approve finds that 80% of the time publisher referrals are tagged as "Checkout Influencer". From a merchant perspective, why would they want to continue paying commissions on that? They react by abruptly removing entire publisher categories, and it's usually coupon/deal.

    Enter AvantMetrics and attribution modeling. Merchants can now keep ALL publishers active and not worry about that type cannibalization, and publishers don't have to be worried about getting booted from a program (usually just b/c they run a deal/coupon site).

    No marketing spin, just reality: If you run a coupon/deal site our attribution modeling has likely kept you active with merchants who would have otherwise removed you altogether. In the case of Carousel Checks, they are still willing to give you something (30% of standard commission) for affecting the checkout in some way, instead of nothing. If you introduce or influence the customer you get 100% of commission.

    From both sides of the equation this seems like a no brainer to me...this coming from someone who was a full-time Affiliate (and plans to be again someday).

    -

    Here is a relevant article/interview on the same subject matter.. and if you check it out you get to chuckle at my winter season scruff and mug

    Value of the Affiliate Marketing Channel #AMDays

    -
    Last edited by GravityFed; May 10th, 2013 at 11:44 AM. Reason: formatting/typos

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  17. #13
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    "this coming from someone who was a full-time Affiliate (and plans to be again someday)."

    Who's that, you? You're leaving Avantlink in the future?

    Ok, as far as the dropping of coupon sites. I'm sure that's true, except you haven't listed any specific merchants, so I can check. There have been merchants I think don't like coupon sites period, example Backcountry. They used to be on coupon sites, then I think they dropped them all. So this model isn't going to help with that.

    Then you have some of the problems, that were talked about years ago, brought up in this thread:

    "We were seeing about one third of the "shared" transactions attributing coupons to us - and we do not do coupons, ever"

    Which was a point I brought up. This is getting sold to content affiliates, but it can happen to them as well. It could happen like this, where it seems to be a mistake somewhere. It might happen with just with a merchant telling the content affiliate, other touches were made, coupons don't even have to be in the picture. I'm not sure if that's what happens specifically with yours, but I'm talking about in general, since there are different ones out there.

    It goes back to the old discussion of trust. We as affiliates usually can't see what's happening on the backend, merchant site. Does Bill have access to check out what happened? I don't think merchants are typically going to give us that information. As affiliates, we work online, most of the time will never meet out partners. Now we have to add on trusting the merchants to attribute fairly.

    How about this example. Somebody goes to coupon site looking at the outdoors section. Sees a merchant they've never seen before and a coupon. Clicks thru, makes a purchase. 100% thru that site. What if the next day, it shows up as 30%, merchant says a content site was involved. How could an affiliate possibly check if that was true? As affiliates we can't even be sure tracking works correctly. There is no third party checking this, we have to do test purchases if you want to know for sure.

    I'm also not a big fan of what could be a floating payout. Imagine somebody going for a job and getting told, you will be paid $5 - $40 an hour. Depending on factors we probably won't show you. Trust us to be fair about it.

    And again. If the current system pays out X. I don't believe a merchant would want to get into a new system if it ends up with them paying more. But I could see that they would like it if it ends up with them paying less.
    Last edited by Trust; May 10th, 2013 at 04:00 PM.

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  19. #14
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Bill some of your comments didn't sit well so I did some research:

    $28.89 CJ 3-month EPC Carousel Checks
    $48.74 CJ 3-month EPC Checks In The Mail
    $62.11 CJ 3-month EPC Check SuperStore

    $83.35 SAS 3-month EPC Carousel Checks
    n/a SAS 3-month EPC Checks In The Mail
    $35.43 SAS 3-month EPC Check SuperStore

    Looks like Carousel Checks is heads above in Shareasale. Didn't you manage that program.

    Lowest EPC - not surprising - I don't think they have a full time manager any longer.
    Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Heather Blackburn the affiliate manager for Carousel Checks. Talking to other affiliates I have only heard praise for that program and how well it converts. Sounds like sour grapes to me!!

  20. #15
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    No sour grapes at all, Chuck.

    Carousel is our second largest checks merchant in sales volume. They have a fine program with a large assortment of quality designs and competitive pricing. No I never managed the Carousel program.

    I responded to Trust's EPC numbers (from CJ) because 95% of our check sales volume is through CJ, not SAS. Caro actually has programs on five networks, which can lead to discrepancies and, yes (believe it or not), tracking problems.

    Heather is Vice President of Retail Sales at Carousel. That is an enormous bailiwick but she is very good at what she does and is one of the most talented PPC people in the industry. I may be wrong but I believe they no longer have a full-time affiliate manager.

    Exactly what are you trying to say?
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  21. #16
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    Hello all,

    I don't usually like to get involved in areas like this but since Carousel has been called out here for our use of AvantMetrics for shared attribution I thought I would just explain why, and clarify a few points.

    We were early adopters of AvantMetrics because of what I have seen as a significant shift in the landscape of affiliate marketing since my first involvement some 10 years ago. My top affiliates are no longer great content affiliates, but large couponers who offer high discounts on my products. We saw these affiliates often (not always) coming in as a user entered our checkout process, and overwriting the cookies of other valued affiliates. We wanted to be fair to the original referrer, and started looking at ways to accurately compensate them in these instances. AvantMetrics was the solution we adopted.

    To be clear, our intention has never been to find ways to pay less to affiliates, only to find ways to more fairly compensate affiliates. We in fact still pay out the full commission, we just split it as determined by the software. The attribution model has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not an affiliate offers coupons or discounts, but has to do with how and when a referral occurs. Hence when Bill says the software doesn't always get it right, I have to disagree. There are instances where even content affiliates come in as late referrers and have to split commissions as a result. In other words, the software doesn't discriminate based on the type affiliate, it just follows the rules.

    I'm not going to try to dissuade anyone to my personal opinions about this, just trying to set clear how and why we came to the decision to implement.

    I don't compare our EPC's to our competitors quite honestly as so many factors can determine how this flushes out. But the shared attribution model would logically reduce the EPC of a program wouldn't it?

    Just to clarify the state of our affiliate program, I am in fact the affiliate manager these days, and I do this in addition to other responsibilities. Bill did not manage Carousel's program, it was his daughter, Jill, who managed it until last March.

    Carousel's program is available at Avantlink, Shareasale and CJ, and will for obvious reasons be leaving GAN. I am happy to be paring down the number of networks, even if by force, and I have nothing but good things to say about the 3 which remain.

    Chuck, give my thanks to any affiliate who has praised our program! We work hard to make sure our program converts well.

    I am always interested to follow the opinions out there on this topic, so I will stay tuned!

    Heather

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  23. #17
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Doesn't Linkshare still have Extra Value Checks, one of the Carousel brands? We no longer use EVC there (having migrated to CJ) but they still appear in my list of merchants.

    Quote Originally Posted by hblackburn
    The attribution model has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not an affiliate offers coupons or discounts, but has to do with how and when a referral occurs. Hence when Bill says the software doesn't always get it right, I have to disagree. There are instances where even content affiliates come in as late referrers and have to split commissions as a result. In other words, the software doesn't discriminate based on the type affiliate, it just follows the rules.
    That is good to know. I wasn't aware. See, ya can teach an old dog new tricks. However, it is now a moot point because we moved most of our links to CJ when we began seeing that happen.
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  24. #18
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    "AvantMetrics was the solution we adopted."

    What do you use in CJ tho? I know that's for Avantlink but I see those same terms at CJ. Does CJ have it's own system?

    At CJ, the 70/30 split isn't listed where it's easy to see in the Description but in this part:

    "Search Campaigns - Special Instructions for Search Marketing Publishers"

    It's not only for search campaigns but for the whole program?

    "We in fact still pay out the full commission, we just split it as determined by the software."

    The full commission split. So the affiliate doesn't necessarily get the full commission.

    And then again, you have issues like this, what Bill posted:

    "We were seeing about one third of the "shared" transactions attributing coupons to us - and we do not do coupons, ever - so we moved most of that traffic elsewhere."

    So that's 1/3 of the sales he delivered, where he got paid less than he should have.

  25. #19
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    Bill - Extra Value Checks has a solo program at Linkshare, leftover from before it became part of the Carousel Checks family.

    Trust- AvantMetrics works across multiple networks including CJ, though I will have to defer to Gary for a full list.

    The affiliate receives a partial commission in the case of split attribution. Actually, two affiliates receive partial commission, whereas prior to our use of AvantMetrics, only one affiliate would have received full commission. We feel the split attribution more fairly compensates our content affiliates (generally overridden by coupon affiliates) while at the same time recognizing the value of the coupon affiliate in closing the sale. Of course the coupon vs content affiliate situation is not the case 100% of the time, but is the most common situation. I have watched the change in affiliate behavior for 10 years in the checks niche and I am hoping the content affiliate is not dying at the hands of the coupon affiliate. I am trying to make sure their value is still recognized. The alternative would be to stop working with coupon sites, and I prefer this approach at least for now.

    Bill's statement about coupons was apparently a misunderstanding of the way the software works. I know Bill sees he is getting a split attribution in many sales, but many of these commissions would have been lost entirely before our use of AvantMetrics. I'll again defer to Gary for a more technical explanation, but Avantmetrics basically looks at introducers, influencers and closers to determine who should receive credit or partial credit as the case may be. We are paying affiliates a partial commission where they would have received none by industry standards because we believe their influence on the sale is still valuable. I respect anyone's opinion to disagree, but this is what I feel is more fair. It basically allows me to in most cases recognize the content affiliate and pay them even when a coupon affiliate enters the process during the checkout process.

    I'll take a look at our terms to see if they are unclear, as I admit I have not reviewed this since I took over managing the program myself.

    Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there! I am enjoying mine at the beach this weekend!

    Heather
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; May 12th, 2013 at 12:03 PM. Reason: typo

  26. #20
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Thanks Heather for explaining this. Am also employing AvantMetrics for a program that we have both on AvantLink and CJ. Without it there is no way to see the attribution trail and make decisions like this. We have conditional representation in place so are not getting duplicate commissions between the two networks. I may reach out to you after we get things setup for help in tweaking the system. I like you am focused on finding content sites to evangelize the brand/products but see coupon sites closing the sale. We do have liberal coupons/Free Shipping so want to be fair to all parties. We even manually add and credit sales for exclusive coupon codes that don't track through the program and make sure they go to the affiliate they were issued for. We also offer exclusive codes to content sites to help them close the sale. this niche is highly competitive and we feel the coupons do help make the decision to buy from us.

    Happy Mother's Day too!

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