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  1. #1
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    CJ affiliates loosing sales to coupon sites
    Hello!

    I'm new here and I'm trying to get a public opinion on a problem I'm having with CJ. I have been dealing with a merchant for several years on a different affiliate platform. Recently they moved to CJ and we changed all our links. Past sales were decent and consistent over 2 years.

    Since the switch to CJ the sales have dropped quite a bit. The web traffic and click through totals are in line with prior months/years. Strange, over a 50% drop in conversions for the same products as soon as the switch took place.

    Upon talking to an expert that knows quite a bit about CJ, he explained about coupon stacking and how badly it hurts the CJ system.

    A shopper clicks a link/product/ad on an affiliates website. The customer decides to purchase and right before they checkout they often open another browser window and visit Coupons.com or Retailmenot.com searching for a discount code. (of course, we all want to save money...I do that too!)

    What happens is the coupon site forces the visitor to click the button to view the coupon code. They open a new tab/window using THEIR affiliate link. That sets a NEW cookie on the shoppers computer just before checkout and guess what....the coupon site gets the commission!

    Sure some sales go through without that happening, but I can see a huge difference from the switch to CJ. I don't understand why affiliates don't complain to CJ because they allow this to happen?!

    Other networks have protection in place for that. I'm on Sharesale.com and PepperJam, both protect the affiliate who first referred the sale! Why does CJ cater to the coupon sites and not the real affiliates promotional efforts?

    Your thoughts/comments PLEASE!

  2. #2
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    This isn't a CJ issue..

    In most programs, the last cookie gets the sale - it's an issue that has been debated for many years. CJ isn't 'allowing' the coupon site to steal your sale, the merchant is giving the sale to the last click.

    Please note that I'm not a coupon affiliate, and would like to see my own cookie protected (!) - but I would ask why the first cookie should be protected? Take my content site, for example - a visitor lands on my site and clicks through to the store (thereby replacing a cookie), I obviously provided something extra/different.. whether it was a better image, more compelling text, etc..

    There are programs out there that split commission - I'll let AMs speak to that. As frustrating as it might be for you now, perhaps it's time to promote the competition if they're not longer a lucrative merchant for you.

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  4. #3
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    I'm going to add to my first response...

    It's possible that the move from one network to another prompted a chance in merchant strategy - for example, a private program now going public (ie. accepting a wider group of affiliates), or they have now started to accept coupon affiliates.

    I know it's a frustrating issue (I'm a content affiliate who faces the same thing) - your goal is to discuss better terms with the merchant, or look for another one who best fits your own requirement for promotion. You do have a choice here - you can give your traffic to a competitor!

    If your site converts, you have accomplished something already, it just needs to be tweaked a little.

  5. #4
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brandy3000 View Post
    Since the switch to CJ the sales have dropped quite a bit. The web traffic and click through totals are in line with prior months/years. Strange, over a 50% drop in conversions for the same products as soon as the switch took place.
    When EXACTLY did the switch to CJ occur? How long of a period are you analyzing?

    Quote Originally Posted by brandy3000 View Post
    A shopper clicks a link/product/ad on an affiliates website. The customer decides to purchase and right before they checkout they often open another browser window and visit Coupons.com or Retailmenot.com searching for a discount code. (of course, we all want to save money...I do that too!)
    What can you do to "counter"? Can you possibly integrate relevant coupons into your product listing/s so your visitor has no reason to look elsewhere after clicking over to the merchant?
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  6. #5
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    Thanks teezone! I never had such a problem on ShareAsale or PJX.

    In the terms with the merchant, it states the cookie is valid for xx days. So in fact, it is CJ overwriting the cookie with another advertisers clickthrough. I completely agree with you once the initial cookie expires, a new advertiser should get the sale. But when I have a customer who decides to buy from my link and a minute into ordering CJ accepts some coupon site instead as the referrer, that undermines my efforts.

    The coupon sites like RetailMeNot bank on that, as they don't display coupon codes until you click the button. Then they open a second window to the merchant setting a new affiliate cookie thus stealing the sale.

    I'm working very closely with the merchant as they don't want to loose our account. They cannot control or stop CJ from allowing the sale from being stolen. (while ShareAsale and PJX protects their affiliates from this)

    If you don't run a major coupon site, then you too should think about the sales you are loosing and don't realize. I know for fact based on past performance, traffic levels and clickthroughs now not converting since the switch to CJ. The merchant also verified that CJ confirmed the coupon site (or last affiliate link clicked) gets the sale.

    CJ has some nice merchants to deal with, but what good is that when you loose half your sales to coupon sites. I don't know what you sell teezone, but if the merchants you promote have coupons on RetailMeNot, you are loosing revenue from it too.

  7. #6
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    Hello Convergence!

    It was at the beginning of this month. I have almost 2 years of consistent data/stats from the other network. Both the merchant and myself can see the drop in sales. While the click throughs are there, and the website traffic is still in line with historical traffic, the conversions are about half.

    To combat we are going to offer some coupons on the site as well. But people still open a new browser window and search for better deals. I do! In this modern shopping age we all try to save an extra dollar because its easy to search for deals online. A real sneaky way to steal a sale on CJ is to list a 40% off coupon that has to be clicked. Does not matter if the coupon works, you then set a cookie with your affiliate link and stole the sale. That is another reason why CJ should honor the 1st affiliate like all the other major networks.

  8. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    You seem to be hellbent to think this is a network issue. Again, it's not. It's a MERCHANT issue. PERIOD.

    Beginning of THIS month is NOT enough time. With the flux in quality of traffic being delivered by search engines, specifically the Google, the economy, etc - comparing June of 2013 to any previous year is a waste. I'm not talking out of my ass, I'm talking from 15+ years experience.

    More than one webmaster, myself included, are wondering how we can have traffic and clicks, but conversions have dropped.

    Read this thread backwards.
    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/searc...162253-10.html
    Last edited by Convergence; June 26th, 2013 at 01:41 PM.
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by brandy3000 View Post
    Upon talking to an expert that knows quite a bit about CJ, he explained about coupon stacking and how badly it hurts the CJ system.
    Are you able to name who this so called CJ expert is?

    I'm not sure it hurts CJ whatever you are talking about, maybe affiliates you like.
    Quote Originally Posted by brandy3000 View Post
    A shopper clicks a link/product/ad on an affiliates website. The customer decides to purchase and right before they checkout they often open another browser window and visit Coupons.com or Retailmenot.com searching for a discount code. (of course, we all want to save money...I do that too!)
    Well you say that you do this yourself basically, look to save, get coupons when shopping but you don't like it when others do it because you don't make a commission. seems a little contradictory.

    I see people moaning about coupon sites a lot, same old same old but hey you might want to consider that some people who own coupon sites might have been in the business longer than you even!

    I own coupons and I started my first one in 1996 well before most people used the web let alone people having their own affiliate websites. I get tired of the new breed of affiliates putting down coupon sites because they are not making as much money. My advice it to stop moaning and work out a solution to make more money. Coupon sites will always be around so learn to deal with it. You can jump up and down but it will not do much, you have 5 posts and you expect the world to stop for you?.

    Maybe you can consider what coupon sites go through, we are slowing getting lower commissions because of people like you and the new breed of AM's who are all anti coupon sites and it seems lately this forum is becoming a breeding grown for them too. Now I'm starting to understand why we don't see so many of the older affiliates here as I think this forum is trying to push coupon sites out of business.

    I have seen a number of my top performing merchants downgrade my commissions and lately I'm not accepting their terms and tell them to shove it and I will promote their competitors instead by redirecting their traffic to their competitors offers. Two can play this game.

    Along with that I have to also deal with lower commissions on my non coupon sites as they often don't distinguish.

    Quote Originally Posted by brandy3000 View Post
    What happens is the coupon site forces the visitor to click the button to view the coupon code. They open a new tab/window using THEIR affiliate link. That sets a NEW cookie on the shoppers computer just before checkout and guess what....the coupon site gets the commission!
    That is not what happens at all, no one is forcing anyway to do anything. Why should the coupon site let the visitor have the coupon code and leave without them getting a commission?

    Quote Originally Posted by brandy3000 View Post
    Sure some sales go through without that happening, but I can see a huge difference from the switch to CJ. I don't understand why affiliates don't complain to CJ because they allow this to happen?!

    Other networks have protection in place for that. I'm on Sharesale.com and PepperJam, both protect the affiliate who first referred the sale! Why does CJ cater to the coupon sites and not the real affiliates promotional efforts?

    Your thoughts/comments PLEASE!
    This is not CJ, other networks are running the last cookie too as far as I know. My guess is that CJ probably has more competitors working against you and since the merchant moved there you are losing sales to those competitors
    Hosting Discounts from Professional Rates Hosts - Deals and Coupons on Domain Names from GoDadday, Namecheap, Domain.com and more top registers.

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  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    You seem to be hellbent to think this is a network issue. Again, it's not. It's a MERCHANT issue. PERIOD.

    Beginning of THIS month is NOT enough time. With the flux in quality of traffic being delivered by search engines, specifically the Google, the economy, etc - comparing June of 2013 to any previous year is a waste. I'm not talking out of my ass, I'm talking from 15+ years experience.

    More than one webmaster, myself included, are wondering how we can have traffic and clicks, but conversions have dropped.

    Read this thread backwards.
    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/searc...162253-10.html
    Not to argue, but the day we switched to CJ was when it happened. Not anything to do with Google. Like I said, the traffic and click throughs are still at the same levels. I'm not comparing this year to last, the traffic to the site is consistent, clicks are too. Conversions are not. No change in prices or product.

    And regardless of any stats or figures, are you telling me that you don't mind loosing your commissions to coupon sites when you are the one who initially brought the customer to the merchants site?

    My point is that I NOTICED this fact when the switch took place to CJ. If I consistently sold 50-60 widgets average per day for well over 2 years and suddenly upon using CJ links I only sell 20 or less per day...you think that's Google? If it was, then why the same number of click throughs and traffic?

    I certainly appreciate you input, especially with 15 years experience in the affiliate field. But when I have the same traffic levels and average click throughs (and knowing past results), there is not a traffic/google issue here. My visitors and clicks didn't drop, conversions did (and not just a little)

  13. #10
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    glittered.... wow.

    Just as you feel upset about people not liking the coupon sites, I don't like loosing a sale to you that I originally pulled in.

    I advertised a product, made a customer interested enough to click the link to purchase. Because the customer wants to be savvy and save a couple dollars they look for a coupon and use it. Then the coupon site steals the sale commission because YOU force the shopper to click a link to show the coupon. You know darn well that clicking that link will set a cookie to steal the sale. If you wanted to play "fair" and co-exist without complaints like this then you would simply show the code.

    So I understand your heated reply totally... I have nothing against coupon sites, just when they operate in the fashion of forcing the visitor to click to get the code versus simply showing the code so the shopper can enter it in during the checkout. How does your site operate?

  14. #11
    Member Prosperent's Avatar
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    Why would a coupon site ever give you the coupon code without clicking to set a cookie? They would be out of business. That's like asking you to list products without an affiliate url on your site.

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  16. #12
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    glittered, you state the coupon site does not do that?
    Tiger Direct Coupon: Get $59 Off w/ a July 2013 Coupon Code[/url]

    Click to get the deal. It opens the link to Tiger Direct using the affiliate link and sets a new cookie with RetailMeNot getting the credit for sale.

    There are a TON of coupons on their site that you have to click. Some are deals, some have codes. Either way, you have to click most to see the code and that is when they open the affiliate link in another window thus taking the sale commission.
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; June 26th, 2013 at 03:49 PM. Reason: removed affiliate link, against the rules

  17. #13
    Member Prosperent's Avatar
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    It's a business, of course you have to click to get the coupon.

  18. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prosperent View Post
    Why would a coupon site ever give you the coupon code without clicking to set a cookie? They would be out of business. That's like asking you to list products without an affiliate url on your site.
    How about all the shoppers out there that simply went to Best Buy directly and not through an affiliate link?

    Point being, the person who first referred the shopper should get the credit until that cookie expires in accordance with the merchants terms. Not be overwritten by a coupon site within minutes of the initial cookie being set.

    Why the hell should I advertise someones products for free? Oh, so the coupon site gets the money! I see. NOT.

  19. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by brandy3000 View Post
    How about all the shoppers out that that simply went to Best Buy directly and not through an affiliate link?

    Point being, the person who first referred the shopper should get the credit until that cookie expires in accordance with the merchants terms. Not be overwritten by a coupon site within minutes of the initial cookie being set.

    Why the hell should I advertise someones products for free? Oh, so the coupon site gets the money! I see. NOT.
    We're all in the same boat here. I handle thousands of sales per day through our network. You ask "why the hell should I advertise someones products for free", yet you also state that coupon sites should give people the coupon code for free. That makes no sense. Your using circular reasoning.

    I personally don't think first cookie is fair, nor do I think last cookie is necessarily fair. I see this as something that is changing in the industry. Coupons are also a volatile area right now. Personally though, if a merchant isn't converting, I send the traffic to one that is, plain and simple. I can't think of a single niche where there is only one player. That's something you have control over. Other affiliates, not so much.

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  21. #16
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  23. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by glittered View Post
    Coupon sites will always be around so learn to deal with it.
    Well said, glittered (and I'm not a coupon affiliate!)

    The OP frustration is this:
    I have nothing against coupon sites, just when they operate in the fashion of forcing the visitor to click to get the code versus simply showing the code so the shopper can enter it in during the checkout.
    This is something that has been banned in the UK:
    Affiliates must not use a mechanism whereby users are encouraged to click to interact with content where it is unclear or confusing what the outcome will be. For example: - Using “click to reveal code” and opening the site when no valid code is present or an offer/deal/sale is presented instead, without this being made clear before the click - Using “click to copy code” and opening the site when no valid code is available.
    Read more at IAB affiliate council strengthens voucher code guidelines | IAB UK
    At the end of the day, content sites and coupon sites will continue to fight to protect their business model - we all have to adapt and become more competitive.

    One more thing: Your cookie is not valid until it expires.. what if someone comes to MY affiliate site, clicks again and decides to buy..? My site closed the sale, and deserves the commission... coupon site or otherwise.

    We are like sales staff in a store - does the first person you speak with deserve the commission.. or the salesperson who is responsible for your decision to buy..?

    If you feel so strongly about this, you might want to investigate merchants who offer split commission. I've been where you are right now, but over time have come to realize we all have a place in this industry.


  24. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prosperent View Post
    We're all in the same boat here. I handle thousands of sales per day through our network. You ask "why the hell should I advertise someones products for free", yet you also state that coupon sites should give people the coupon code for free. That makes no sense. Your using circular reasoning.

    I personally don't think first cookie is fair, nor do I think last cookie is necessarily fair. I see this as something that is changing in the industry. Coupons are also a volatile area right now. Personally though, if a merchant isn't converting, I send the traffic to one that is, plain and simple. I can't think of a single niche where there is only one player. That's something you have control over. Other affiliates, not so much.
    Ok, finally some middle ground. Thank you Prosperent!

    Nobody should have to be advertising for free, but it should be fair. There are tons of shoppers that simply go directly to a website to purchase and then look for a coupon code. There are also tons of shoppers that will get to a merchants site through an affiliate link. If I just referred a sale to a merchant then I should get credit, not a coupon site that swooped in just because the customer tried to save a buck. Likewise, if the coupon site was visited first and then later the shopper reads a review and clicks my affiliate link, the coupon site should get the sale, NOT ME!

    That should be handled internally at CJ so that both coupon sites and people that take the time to write reviews and promote the products can co-exist without a flame war starting on a forum.

    If my review is what made the customer actually visit the website to purchase, then I should get credit. If a coupon looked attractive enough to make someone shop on a website, then the coupon site should get the credit. Its not fair for either of us to steal away a sale. But as a coupon site you know you have the advantage because most online shoppers will check for a coupon code before they finalize an order so you steal the sale away.

    If you look at a merchants terms you will see that they put a limit on cookie time. Its NOT being honored because CJ allows another affiliate to capture the sale before that cookie actually expires.
    - 7% commission on net sales, excluding shipping, taxes and returns
    - A 30-day tracking cookie

    That 30-day cookie ends up being a couple minutes before being replaced by a cookie from a coupon site because CJ does not honor the merchants stated terms on the cookie.

  25. #19
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    Likewise, if the coupon site was visited first and then later the shopper reads a review and clicks my affiliate link, the coupon site should get the sale, NOT ME!
    Huh?? You should get the commission as you converted the consumer based on your review.

    Cookie expiry is not an absolute time period, ie. 7 days, 30 days... that's not how this business works. It's valid until replaced by another one.

  26. #20
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Brandy I don't know anyone doing 1st click, have you talked with your merchants?

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  28. #21
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    [QUOTE=teezone;1157019]Huh?? You should get the commission as you converted the consumer based on your review.[QUOTE]

    Right, I wrote a review and the customer decided to buy and clicked my affiliate link. That sets the cookie to my account for payment on CJ.

    http://i.imgbox.com/acerdCPl.jpg

    Right before I check out the order the shopper decides to look for a coupon. They visit RetailMeNot.com and search for Thompson Cigar for instance.

    They click to reveal the code. RetailMeNot opens a new browser window using their affiliate link. That sets a new cookie on the shoppers computer. Note this is within 2 minutes of the initial click the shopper made from MY review.
    http://i.imgbox.com/abcDUgnq.jpg

    The person would not have shopped there if not for my review. But as you can see, the cookie is updated with RetailMeNot's affiliate info and I loose the sale.

    I have nothing against coupon sites, as I use them myself! But it is not fair that CJ allows this to happen within minutes of the 1st affiliate referring a sale. Put yourself in my shoes, the one who did the work advertising and writing a review. CJ should not allow the cookie to be overwritten that soon because its very obvious it was from a coupon link. 30 minutes later, sure...let someone else have a shot. But not when its during the typical checkout time for a shopper.
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; June 26th, 2013 at 04:00 PM. Reason: removed affiliate link

  29. #22
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    Put yourself in my shoes, the one who did the work advertising and writing a review
    I am in your shoes (I'm a content site too!). We all understand your issue, but you're fighting an uphill battle.. the cookie can be replaced within 2 minutes, or on Day 29.

    Channel energy back to your own site - a winning formula has stopped working, it's time to figure out a new one (new merchant, change in website, etc).

    This is a constantly changing business - adapt quickly and you will find new opportunities.

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  31. #23
    Affiliate Manager Kush@VMInnovations's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Brandy I don't know anyone doing 1st click, have you talked with your merchants?
    You can sort of do 1st click on ShareASale w/ a leapfrog rule assuming there are only 2 affiliates involved. For example we set a rule in place to protect our content/niche affiliates from last minute cookie sniping.

    Relevant example: affiliate refers us a potential customer, that customer is about to purchase but decides to leave the shopping cart to go find a coupon. If the coupon they find is on another affiliates page and they click through that page, 1st affiliates cookie will not be overwritten. The original referrer will earn the credit, not the 2nd/last affiliate who dropped a cookie a minute before the transaction.

    Generally transactions take much longer than couple of minutes to complete, this rule is specifically targeted to protect content/niche affiliates from cart sniping ones.

    Hope this helps.

    p.s.
    customers don't usually get to that point since we don't promote the coupon box during checkout, and skip right to the billing/shipping address after add to cart/upsell action.


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    Thanks Kush! I've been a member of ShareAsale for years, and PJX...they too protect the transaction from the coupon sniping activity.

    For the size of CJ, I am surprised that they allow the sniping to take place. That is something one would expect from a small in-house program that does not have a huge programming/tech team behind it.

    Perhaps the masses of CJ affiliates don't realize the amount of sales they are loosing. I honestly would not have noticed it either except I know what kind of sales to expect from my nitch market and already dealing with the merchant for years. The only factor that changed was the program from PepperJam to CJ. All traffic is at the same level, just about 50% less in conversions because the sales must be going elsewhere.

  33. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
    Brandy I don't know anyone doing 1st click, have you talked with your merchants?
    Got your PM Chuck, sorry about that. I posted a link to RetailMeNot as an example of how the coupons show on their website. It was NOT an affiliate link?! I'm not sure how a page listing their coupons was considered that, but either way I won't do it again. I was simply trying to show the flow of how the cookie is written over on the CJ network.

    Seems I've started quite a controversial topic here on your forum. Hopefully the coupon site folks here will see my point too and we can all play nicely in the sandbox.

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