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  1. #1
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    Why do some companies NOT want to provide a datafeed for their affiliates?
    It may be pretty obvious to some of the more experienced marketers who use affiliates to help promote their sites but I'm scratching my head on this.

    I have affiliate relationships with many companies and through several of the affiliate networks and with that I'm pleased to see some of the datafeeds offered to me directly via the networks (eg AvantLink) but I'm also a little perplexed when I see particular companies who don't offer a datafeed (anywhere) and when I get in touch to ask them directly if they can/will do so they simply say "no we don't do that."

    I figure I'm really missing the boat on this somehow. Datafeed must be hard/bad/something. There must be a reason but I'm not seeing it.

    This comes to my mind because right now I have a series of blog posts that I'm doing on a new site and I will be including a nice sidebar of related deals as well as links to particularly interesting products in text itself. This lengthy series of posts is perfect for links to one particular company and I believe those links will be profitable for me and that company. But I have decided to go to my 2nd choice company (related products but not the same at all) simply because they provide a datafeed of deals that will be easy to use (for me) and appealing to my readers. Statistically, it looks like I'll make more $ with links to the second company that provides the datafeed but I know that I really want to have my readers experience a lot of info from the first company because those are very salient products. I've asked my developer to look into what we can do on our end to automate a process of search/deeplink or something that would be helpful to my readers. In the meanwhile I'm still left with "why is this company not offering a datafeed?"

    If anyone has time to explain what some reasons might be -- I'd appreciate the lesson and thank you!
    Last edited by Buttercup; March 12th, 2015 at 01:26 AM. Reason: grammar

  2. #2
    OPM/Moderator Hectic GHC's Avatar
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    I assumed you were a merchant when I read another one of your posts. Now I'm confused. Are you a merchant or an affiliate?

    Merchants choose to not create datafeeds for many reasons. Programming resources is probably the number one reason. Another could be fear of duplicate content in search results. Have you asked them why?
    Greg Hoffman
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  4. #3
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    +1 on what Greg said.. most likely, they don't have the tech resources to build and maintain one.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
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  5. #4
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Resources when it's a smaller company - but, with most ecom platforms there is usually a 'mod' or 'widget', or 'plug-in' to export data in many shopping engine formats - some merchants just don't know that. Many merchants are a one or two person show, just like most affiliates.

    For larger merchants it's fear. Fear of duplicate content (unfounded), fear of being outranked naturally by their affiliates, and fear of a competitor getting their data - just to name a few.

    The biggest reason, IMhO, is the merchant does not know the value of a GOOD feed. Yes, there are affiliates that can automate the processing of feeds, but most do not. Most affiliates would use a feed to manually grab specific products to promote.

    Basically, there are as many reasons why a merchant does not have or offer a feed - as frustrating as it is to us who use them...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  7. #5
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    Resources and keeping it updated are the two biggest issues I've found. Adding a datafeed is one of the first things I always recommend to our merchants. Sometimes we're successful, sometimes we're not....

    Buttercup, almost every network has a way to create a deep link to a specific merchant page. I know it is more cumbersome, but perhaps that can help you still promote your target products.
    Jeannine Crooks - Always happy to share what I know! - Voted Best Network Rep 2013 & 2014
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  8. #6
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    Yeah, launching a feed and not updating it is about as bad as not having one at all. It's a horrible experience for affiliates and customers alike.
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
    NFLShop.com|Shop.NHL.com|NBAStore.com|Store.NASCAR.com
    Email wtonkin // at // Fanatics.com


  9. #7
    Member Chubstr's Avatar
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    I once worked with a company for a while that hadn't updated their in 4 years! It was a case of lack of resources and understanding for them. It's better not to have one than to have something totally irrelevant sitting out there.

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  11. #8
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    As was mentioned, having one and not knowing how to handle it is just plain awful.

    I've got one key merchant that now from one day to the next products come and go from the feed - there yesterday, gone today, back tomorrow. The products are still in stock, just in and out of the feed. I wrote them about it a few days ago, and GUESS WHAT? No response.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  12. #9
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    There are some sites, such as mine, that get a lot of traffic and a lot of sales AND the only way you can be listed is via a datafeed.

    So many times I've spoken with AM's and told them, "yeah, I knew about your program for x years but you never had a datafeed. Now I see you added one and are updating it, expect sales to start flowing on x date when you go live on my website". And boom, they do and all of a sudden I'm one of their top affiliates.... Think of the sales that could have happened if they had done it sooner...

    I should add that if you don't update your datafeed regularly I drop your program. It is a really bad user experience otherwise...
    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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  14. #10
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    The resources needed are not overwhelming they just don't allocate them. Its also literally impossible to estimate the impact you will get by adding it so they minimize the justification.

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  16. #11
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    @Hectic sorry for any confusion -- I am an affiliate (newbie at that) here not a merchant. My business ventures in the past have always been focused on helping entrepreneurs ans businesses achieve their goals on a consulting/service basis.

    It might very well be a technology issue for the merchant in the particular case I'm dealing with right now. I can deep link to particular products on the merchant site but that deep linking (as I know how to do it today) is both time consuming for me (thus I'm not going to do it), can end up with dead links (the merchant offers many one-off items once gone they're gone) and it is not responsive to new offerings with that merchant -- so won't really meet the needs of my audience in the long run without data feed. While I divert my energies to the second choice merchant, I will learn more about what I can do to automate a process that might substitute for the merchant's own up-to-date data feed.

    I'm now doing my due-diligence to identify which merchants offer regularly updated datafeed (I've already notes as @isellstuff knows that not all datafeeds actually update!).

    If anyone knows of best practices / good ways that I can pull data from choice merchants who do not offer datafeeds? First, technology means and second improved communications with the merchant to try and enhance the relationship (so they'll WANT to provide a datafeed...) Thanks!

  17. #12
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    After spending a day playing around with Python I can see that it would be not all that hard to pull together a couple different datafeeds from the desired marketer that would help my audience see related products from that marketer's site together with my relevant content -- should I approach the company and say "hey, can we work together to get your datafeed out there?" or should I just do it for my site since they've already told me they don't do datafeeds? Appreciate the thoughts. While I like the idea of being one of the few sources of info online about their unique product offerings, I also always like being in a situation to help out each other. I don't want to do something that's stupid for my own business though.

  18. #13
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    I would make sure that the merchant is okay with you scrapping their content before doing things that way. You can also run into some duplicate content penalties, or, since Google can screw up so badly sometimes, hurt the merchant that way as well. If the company doesn't have a datafeed, they've probably decided they don't want to do that for a variety of reasons, and going around them would probably not be well-received. Perhaps just choose a different merchant?
    Jeannine Crooks - Always happy to share what I know! - Voted Best Network Rep 2013 & 2014
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  20. #14
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    Thanks for your reply JCooks,

    Right now, without communication from the merchant on this, I will continue to use product datafeed from a different merchant for the first of the series of blog posts that would be so good for the particular merchant. Their products are not the same -- it is like comparing apples and oranges so I will continue on my quest to do more with the first merchant.

    I, too, am concerned for me and the merchant that what I provide wouldn't be seen, by accident in search engines, as duplicate content. I don't think it would because I decided if I'm going to have to dig for the info, I might as well do and display in a way that is ideally suited to my audience and that's different than the way products or their related information is presented on the merchant's own site.

    I have again reached out to the company but this is contact I do is through their affiliate manager (someone who does not work directly for the merchant) and the affiliate manager is (I think) is a communications block. He may be overworked as he has been non-communicative in the past -- it took multiple emails from me the first time 'round just to get him to say "no datafeed from this merchant." Google is a wonderful thing and I just took the time to google the guy and I see his company is small, he's a solo operator, he has gone from in-house AM for a larger company related to what his focus is now and the other online info I, by chance, discover about him makes me think he's not the helpful sort of guy I wish he were.

    Lucky for me, there are other projects on my plate to finish and this one merchant is only a single of many sources of good info and product for my audience. Thanks again!

  21. #15
    Newbie GeorgeClicxy's Avatar
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    Speaking of "Fear of duplicate content" - may I ask a stupid question: Why not to have a separate description for data-feed? Or even several versions of the unique content.

    It's clearly worth the effort as most of you would agree. Even investing a bit more to expand your tech capabilities to support the feed would boost your sales and cover the cost in no time (given that feed get's updated).

  22. #16
    Affiliate Manager AffiliateWarrior's Avatar
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    George, depending on the size of your product offering, generating a (human created) new description for affiliate feed use can be cost prohibitive (said the guy who manages a couple of programs with 400,000 + sku feeds)
    Wade Tonkin - Affiliate Manager - Fanatics
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  23. #17
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeClicxy View Post
    Speaking of "Fear of duplicate content" - may I ask a stupid question: Why not to have a separate description for data-feed? Or even several versions of the unique content.

    It's clearly worth the effort as most of you would agree. Even investing a bit more to expand your tech capabilities to support the feed would boost your sales and cover the cost in no time (given that feed get's updated).
    The better merchants do have a variation of their product descriptions. Not necessary, IMho - we have been using feeds for about ten years, in one fashion or another, and haven't seen an issue for either the merchants or for our web properties. Product description isn't the only factor UNLESS it's the only thing on a PAGE...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  25. #18
    Affiliate Network Rep JCrooks - AffiliateWindow's Avatar
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    Makes sense, Convergence, but to clarify, you're using feeds provided by merchants, not using a tool to scrape and create your own, right?
    Jeannine Crooks - Always happy to share what I know! - Voted Best Network Rep 2013 & 2014
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  26. #19
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCrooks - AffiliateWindow View Post
    Makes sense, Convergence, but to clarify, you're using feeds provided by merchants, not using a tool to scrape and create your own, right?
    Scrape is such a dirty word.

    Yes, we use network/merchant feeds to populate our two main sites. We do, however, have an additional two search engines that, errr, crawl websites.

    But, we were talking about data feeds in this thread, right?
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

  27. #20
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Convergence View Post
    Yes, we use network/merchant feeds to populate our two main sites.
    Doesn't mean we don't change things where we can in order for the descriptions to be more presentable and easier to read...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...

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  29. #21
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    Interesting twists this has taken
    In our case, I was starting out looking for a simple datafeed like I have available from other merchants -- nothing original in terms of content presentation with those datafeeds BUT our sites are about the content we deliver and the affiliate ads are just a little extra info for our audience (with, of course potential for revenues for us). I tend to prefer to deep link to a particular item and discuss that item but realize that is going to create another site maintenance task in the future for my team.

    Now, as we have looked into what it takes to develop a datafeed from a particular marketer's site, I really like our ability to customize what we're pulling from them and how we're linking so it gives a much better experience for our audience. Custom is definitely better (for us) but the fact remains that we really need to be communicating with the merchant and in the case I started this thread with, we have had NO comm from the merchant's contract Affiliate Manager. He's just ignoring us it seems.

    I have sent a note to a second merchant to follow up on our internal plan to provide our audience with custom info from the second merchant's offerings. That one has an in-house AM and they have responded quickly with a helpful bit of info. Entirely different experience than the first.

    I really don't have my head around the issues of "accidental duplicate content" and how it can impact us or the merchant.

  30. #22
    Newbie BSchwartz110's Avatar
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    Have read the main reason is resources, can attest to that. In my previous role working on the merchant side, they had so much going on in the pipeline it was hard to make a business case to create the data-feed for the affiliate channel especially if you have a lot of SKUs. As a workaround solution I had reached out to an IT Firm through a freelancing site and outsourced the work for pennies on the dollar. Put some feelers out there and you should be pleasantly surprised.

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