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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    If you aren't updating your datafeed every day....
    A stale datafeed is HORRIBLE for a merchant's relationship with potential customers and with their publishers. Potential customers automatically assume you are trying a "bait and switch" on them when the destination webpage doesn't match the content advertised on your affiliate partner's website. Stale datafeeds lead to "page not found", "out of stock", or the worst "price higher than advertised".

    Please, don't use a datafeed if you are not able to updated it with every inventory change.

    I've got merchants with datafeeds that haven't been updated in 5 years! Of course, I drop them from my search engine as soon as I see the "last updated" date.

    Are you managing one of these programs On Commission Junction? You should delete your feed, its doing more damage than good...

    TotalHomecareSupplies.com - TotalHomecareSupplies.com - Product Catalog TotalHomecareSupplies.com 27-Dec-2012 09:16 PST
    Wireless Emporium - Product Catalog Wireless Emporium, Inc. 4-Dec-2012 06:54 PST
    DiscountWatchStore.com - DiscountWatchStore Product Catalog IC Mart 7-Nov-2012 00:19 PST
    Aqua Supercenter - Aqua Supercenter - Product Catalog Aqua Supercenter 28-Oct-2012 23:04 PDT
    BIC Warehouse - Product Catalog bic supply 22-Oct-2012 10:05 PDT
    Dexclusive.com - Dexclusive.com Product Catalog DEXCLUSIVE.COM 19-Oct-2012 06:52 PDT
    Vitality Medical - Product Catalog 1 Vitality Medical 26-Apr-2012 09:59 PDT
    PoolDawg.com - Product Catalog PoolDawg.com 5-Apr-2012 09:02 PDT
    MasterGardening.com - Product Catalog Trident Enterprises 7-Nov-2011 08:32 PST
    Global Equipment Company - Global Equipment Company Product Catalog Global Equipment Company 6-Jul-2011 10:58 PDT
    CPO Commerce - CPO Delta Woodworking Product Catalog CPO Commerce, Inc. 6-Jun-2011 02:05 PDT
    Total Pet Supply - Total Pet Supply Product Catalog Total Pet Supply 20-Apr-2011 11:26 PDT
    LuggageGuy.com - LuggageGuy.com Product Catalog LuggageGuy.com 21-Mar-2011 08:05 PDT
    CPO Commerce - CPO Eureka Product Catalog CPO Commerce, Inc. 16-Mar-2011 00:25 PDT
    CP Toys - CP TOYS - Product Catalog U.S. Toy Company 19-Oct-2010 07:19 PDT
    Nuance - Product Catalog Nuance 22-Sep-2010 13:11 PDT
    Power Systems - Power Systems - Product Catalog Power Systems Inc 8-Sep-2010 07:15 PDT
    VetShop.Com - Vetshop Product Catalog Orbital Marketing 1-Sep-2010 11:10 PDT
    Ignatius Press - Product Catalog 1 Guadalupe Associates, Inc. 23-Mar-2010 04:34 PDT
    101inks.com - 101inks Product Catalog Paragon Solution network, Inc. 8-Sep-2009 18:14 PDT
    Verseo.com - Product Catalog Verseo.com 26-Aug-2009 15:16 PDT
    Princeton Watches - Princeton Watches Product Catalog Princeton Enterprises, Ltd 23-Aug-2009 05:01 PDT
    PartsGeek.com - Product Catalog Parts Geek LLC 27-Apr-2009 21:51 PDT
    Little Giant Ladder Systems - Product Catalog AffiliateCREW 27-Aug-2008 15:55 PDT
    AllergyBuyersClub.com - AllergyBuyersClub Product Catalog AllergyBuyersClub.com 14-Feb-2008 10:49 PST

  2. #2
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    +1

    Their are a TON of merchants like that. Don't even bother with them anymore, just removing them and getting on with things...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Do you automate the detection of their stale data and removal? Is that possible?

    I have been manually detecting them and then implementing a "perma-ban". If they are on multiple networks though, I might have a problem with re-upping on another network. It looks like I've done that with discountwatchstore (ShareASale, CJ) for instance.

    Such a pain...

  4. #4
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Please, don't use a datafeed if you are not able to updated it with every inventory change.
    Glad you added that line. Some merchants have one line of products that change little - or not at all - over the course of a year.

    On the other hand, now that I realize some affiliates check refresh dates, maybe I should tickler our feed to be re-uploaded at least once a month.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
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  6. #5
    ABW Ambassador Bob Lawrence's Avatar
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    Would be nice if we could see the last update on the networks "CJ, LS" before joining them.
    Where's the Great Life of Affiliate Marketing Hiding?

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  8. #6
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Lawrence View Post
    Would be nice if we could see the last update on the networks "CJ, LS" before joining them.
    Yep, +1 on that too.

  9. #7
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff View Post
    Do you automate the detection of their stale data and removal? Is that possible?
    Not automated to detect yet - but that's a very good idea. Had not thought of it, lol. Spot check for the most part. FTP into our feeds repository and sort by date. If we see something old, we investigate.

    Did notice something on a merchant yesterday. A merchant renamed their feed from Product Catalog to Product Catallog - breaking the import.

    Off to figure out how to write a script that will detect the age of a feed and for it to send an email alert...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  10. #8
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've put the auto-detect on my todo list too. Will add before the holidays.

  11. #9
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    I get a monthly notice with one network and then have to relay it to the merchant who relays it to a third party. I would love to see this in the merchant interface as I check it everyday.

    Also to add datafeeds are critical in Q4 and when customer service *****es about a call for an out of date price or out of stock I can only point to the freshness of the datafeed.

  12. #10
    Affiliate Manager
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    I work with a publishing company and we only release new material once or twice a year. How will that affect my datafeed? By "updating" do you mean adding new product or adding new images? I have to be honest, this whole datafeed thing has me fairly lost..... :/

  13. #11
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngieC View Post
    I work with a publishing company and we only release new material once or twice a year. How will that affect my datafeed? By "updating" do you mean adding new product or adding new images? I have to be honest, this whole datafeed thing has me fairly lost..... :/
    Pricing and Inventory Levels contained within the datafeed MUST reflect the current state of your website. If you raise a price, the datafeed must be updated. If an item goes out of stock, the datafeed must be updated.

    When my website displays an incorrect price and a website visitor goes to your website and sees a higher price (or an item that is out of stock), we are both going to get an earful from said visitor. Your customer support phone number will have to deal with them and so will mine.

    I'm sick and tired of having to explain that it isn't a "bait and switch" scheme, but rather an incorrectly managed datafeed. The potential customer is going to argue that there is no difference between the two and how do I know the store isn't trying to pull a fast one.

    Two days ago I got a voicemail from an irate customer who told me he was contacted the attorney general to complain about false advertising, which was really a datafeed issue. Why, why subject an affiliate program to this kind of ridicule?


  14. #12
    Affiliate Manager
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    Wow! I didn't even think of that! The attorney general.....just, wow! Ok, so the datafeed is basically used to ensure that all the products are up to date price-wise, currently in stock, and exactly as advertised. Right? So it is probably best to have "checking the datafeed" on the to do list at least once a week?

  15. #13
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    The datafeed is one mechanism that an affiliate uses to display your products on their website.

    Checking once a week isn't really good enough. That would mean six days of potentially inaccurate product details. I believe most merchants automate it such that once a day, your online database dumps out a datafeed which is transferred to your affiliate network and imported. This type of thing is best automated via software. You should check once a week to make sure the export/import is still working.

    You need to get your R+D guys working on this.

    I assume you meant "books" when you said you are in publishing? Datafeeds are used quite a bit for media items, but so are API's that return price and inventory data based on ISBN numbers. Just a heads up... Oh, and obviously your datafeed MUST have ISBN numbers.

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  17. #14
    ABW Ambassador JoyUnltd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff View Post
    Pricing and Inventory Levels contained within the datafeed MUST reflect the current state of your website. If you raise a price, the datafeed must be updated. If an item goes out of stock, the datafeed must be updated.

    When my website displays an incorrect price and a website visitor goes to your website and sees a higher price (or an item that is out of stock), we are both going to get an earful from said visitor. Your customer support phone number will have to deal with them and so will mine.

    I'm sick and tired of having to explain that it isn't a "bait and switch" scheme, but rather an incorrectly managed datafeed. The potential customer is going to argue that there is no difference between the two and how do I know the store isn't trying to pull a fast one.

    Two days ago I got a voicemail from an irate customer who told me he was contacted the attorney general to complain about false advertising, which was really a datafeed issue. Why, why subject an affiliate program to this kind of ridicule?
    Happened to me awhile back, nasty letter from a customer about an incorrect price. I contacted the merchant who blamed me, then the AM also blamed me, even though it turned out it was their stale datafeed and I couldn't update it! So I placed a sitewide disclaimer that states that the price on the merchant site is the accurate one, as it isn't possible to post last minute price changes, etc. Not great, but at least I can point to that if there's any complaints.

    Yep, there's merchants who only update their feed quarterly or less. Mind-boggling.
    Renée
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  18. #15
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The datafeed also provides YOUR product title, description and images. Otherwise an affiliate has to go searching for them. Most likely they won't both with your feed and instead use a competitors who has provided that info.

    Frankly (present company excused) I hear a bunch of *****ing about building a datafeed for an affiliate program. You do it once and if done right requires little maintenance. Its not that big of a technical undertaking.

  19. #16
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    I was helping a merchant with their affiliate program and attended ASW several times, and here's what I think the challenge is:
    - Most store owners aren't technical (so they don't put a datafeed high on their priority list)
    - Most stores don't have a fully dedicated person that's technical (this adds another barrier on getting things done)
    - Most marketers aren't technical (Yet another barrier if the marketer isn't technical or is an average marketer)
    - Technical resource is scarce (More barrier.. sigh)

    I asked the store owner several times for the datafeed and he just kept saying yeah and pass it off. I had to find a solution for him and setup a script that export datafeeds myself. Upload the script, integrate the script with the store and finally export it.

    Now that I've exported it and this datafeed is for google shopping, I have to change it to affiliate networks format who have exhibited not much care about solving this problem. So I have to craft the datafeed specifically for them. Now to get this easily and quickly done, I have to open excel and just add in whatever data to get it successfully imported to get this problem off my shoulders, because asking the store owner won't get it done.

    So opening this datafeed in excel, I just enter whatever data to satisfy the network -- even if it is wrong. All the UPCs will change to 12987E+1 format, so I correct the format and save this as CSV (a lot of "internet marketers" do this incorrectly so that's why we see 12987E+1 type data in the feeds).

    This is why the affiliate networks absolutely need to follow Google Shopping datafeed format.

    Are the networks listening to Convergence or iSellStuff or Propserent (The affiliates with the most data feed experience?). Not really.. and so the *****ing will continue until the affiliate networks actually listens. Which they've demonstrated they won't.

    So as business people, we have to find solutions -- do we continue to be these networks' ***** (I don't know why this is such a bad word)? That's not what a real business person does -- we don't just sit here and *****? So we have to create a solution. Can we do it and how?

    We have to figure a solution to this, if we have to create our own affiliate network, then so be it. It's something we have to work together on for our very own survival.

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  21. #17
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    Excellent post!

    My concern with going to a Google standard is that they use it against affiliates. I have talked with one network about starting with it then recommending an in-depth feed to cover all bases.

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  23. #18
    Affiliate Manager
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    I think I understand better now. The feed enables the affiliates to find how I would describe my own products, currently books, cds, audiobooks, digital downloads. This enables them to have accurate data and not have to work as hard to sell my stuff because the language is provided for them. Right? It actually makes sense now and doesn't seem like a huge issue. Of course we are a small company so I could imagine it being a much larger issue for those with more dynamic inventory.

    I am currently working on building the inventory and am doing it by hand, any advice? I am one of those "non technical" people but am learning as fast as I can!

  24. #19
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    If you have a Google feed I have had this recommended: Comparison Shopping Engine & Data Feed Management - GoDataFeed

  25. #20
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    So, I am an affiliate and not a merchant, but you probably need to think about your overall price comparison and affiliate strategy. You should be aware there are services such as :

    https://www.singlefeed.com/partners/engines.php

    These guys will help you get your data in the right format and also help you keep it up to date. They will submit your feed to comparison engines such as google shopping and also get your data into Commission Junction or ShareASale.

    Edit: There you go, Chuck mentioned another, similar service...

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