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  1. #1
    Affiliate Manager Lionstail's Avatar
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    I clicked on the linkshare thread to see what was new and the first thing that caught my eye was that the icons on the first ten threads or so were all either neutral or negative. Personally, I have yet to make any meaningful money with Linkshare and I find their navigation a disaster.

    However, I look at their programs and it looks like they have some good companies with decent commissions. I'm just wondering what other peoples experiences have been. Is this a good site and my failure to make serious conversions there is just a result of my not putting enough focus there or picking bad merchants or is this a site that many of you are frustrated working with?

    If so, what's the frustration? Is it the merchants, the tracking, the commissions, the payment?

    I'm interested in hearing all opinions. Dave

  2. #2
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    I probably have 3 merchants at Linkshare that make good sales, and the rest...
    Problem is you don't know who the losers are until you have already sent them 1000s of clicks, then by the time you replace them they've had 1000s more free clicks.
    (Isn't CJ great?!) [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  3. #3
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    I'm happy with them -- I have merchants that convert and pay. That's what I'm here for. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  4. #4
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    Linkshare Rocks!

    (Yes I am very happy with Linkshare merchants I promote...50+ of them)

    Oh, BTW, I don't think LS is one of the fastest growing [img]tongue.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]tongue.gif[/img] tech companies in greater NY area [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] LS is already at some class of maturity! (I can't help laughing whenever I hear this nonsense pitch "fastest growing")

    - BluesX

  5. #5
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Hi

    Different perspective.. as a Merchant we are very pleased with the system. We had a number of problems working with Be Free and some pre-signing issues with CJ that led us to select LinkShare for the relaunch of our affiliate program.

    As a Merchant I can not complain at all about the support they give me. I get a responce within 12 hours to all emails I send to my Support Contact (Thanks Lisa [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] )

    Cheers

    Chris

    [ 08-09-2002: Message edited by: Mondera ]

  6. #6
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    Besides the Combined payments at CJ, in almost every other regard LS is my favorite .... but.. there does seem to be a lot of dog merchants.

    The LS interface seems the best and easiest to use to me.

  7. #7
    15 years and counting
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    I've been with LS from the beginning. I had my first sale with them :cool: Their main problem is their merchants and the management of the company. Forget most of the big names there, they joined LS for branding not for sending you a check. There's a few gems that convert well, mainly smaller cies. A pretty good list of merchants was posted by BluesX.
    LS management did nothing for years for weeding out all the crooks who were stealing our traffic, then lots a merchants went belly up (often the same) and LS did nothing to help us recover our money. Most of the affiliates left with hard feeling. Things are changing, a few improvements were added lately. Just be very careful with their merchants, try to contact their affiliate managers. The way their answer will tell you a lot of your future relationship.
    If LS get paid by the merchants, they'll send you a check, bunch of them sometimes, they don't consolidate payments.

  8. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    LS has come a long way as a network to get back affiliate trust after years of ignoring abuses and diversion/tracking issues. The one thing they could do, but refuse to comment or implement, is a simple sales conversion stat for their merchants to help us choose some winners. This involves publishing the merchant's number of clicks to produce one sale across their entire affiliate pool. Sure they Dupers will inflate the figure due to their "incent" advantages but that figure would allow a new affiliate to pick out someone who could produce them a commission check for pushing traffic to select merchants. The merchant's in each category then would then be forced to improve their conversion ratio to compete for new affiliate recruitments.

  9. #9
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Problem is you don't know who the losers are until you have already sent them 1000s of clicks, then by the time you replace them they've had 1000s more free clicks.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think this is true of all the networks. The problem I have with the network EPC is that one or two big affiliates can severely distort it.

    If you've taken statistics you will know that a statistical outlier (either really good or really bad) has the potential to tremendously influence the average, so as not to represent the other data remotely.

    Think about the average home runs per player on the San Francisco Giants last year. Do you think it's valuable to know the average without knowing that Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs?

    I'm not saying this is always the case; it's just that CJ doesn't put this *asterisk next to all EPC data. So, those without statistics experience or backgrounds don't realize an average is potentially a meaningless statistic. Give me more statistical back-up like an EPC scatterplot, and then I'll believe.

    You'll never know how a merchant will do for you unless you try it. An EPC is just an average. An average doens't mean everyone will perform at the average. It means some affiliates are doing better or worse (assuming a normal bell curve distribution).

    To assume that a merchant with a low network EPC means you will have a low EPC isn't true. You might be missing opportunities on a niche market.

    To assume a merchant with a high network EPC means you will have a high EPC isn't true. You might not have the right demographic, marketing methodology, etc.

    If you really want to get a good indication beforehand, you'll need to find someone on these boards that generally does what you do and has the same demographic to discuss EPC results with merchants. Of course, why would a competitor share their EPC's? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Take EPC with a grain of salt. In the absence of good metrics, I think too many have used a metric with pitfalls.

  10. #10
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    Mike,

    I think LS is already developing some sort of network performance indicators. I am pretty sure LS won't publish numbers like EPC and EPM as these numbers aren't really strong indicators of network performance and that these original artwork might have been copyrighted by Commission Junction! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    - BluesX

  11. #11
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I think LS is already developing some sort of network performance indicators. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    BluesX - Any more specifics you can share with us?

  12. #12
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    >BluesX - Any more specifics you can share with us?

    Not at this time. For the time being, You can safely consider what I said a pure speculation [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    - BluesX

  13. #13
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    My quick cure seemed simple enough for Linkshare to grab a meaningful figure. They take the total number of merchant clicks generated by affiliates for August and divide by the number of reported sales. ie. 256,000 clicks/451 sales= 567 clicks to produce one sale on a network wide average. Not rocket science and that merchant's goal is then to lower that ratio by fine tuning creatives and landing pages.

    A merchant like Overstock could monitor this stat all month long and immediately see the impact of new creatives and linking tools. Impressions are meanlingless ..just the clicks and resulting sales factor into our paychecks. The stat goes into the merchant profile screen along with commission rate -cookie days etc for recruiting new affiliates. Affiliates at least see if they can better that rate due to their own pre-sell expertise and better targeted traffic right upfront!!

    [ 08-09-2002: Message edited by: EcomCity.com ]

  14. #14
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    "LS management did nothing for years for weeding out all the crooks who were stealing our traffic, then lots a merchants went belly up (often the same) and LS did nothing to help us recover our money. Most of the affiliates left with hard feeling.~Zues"

    Yeah, like ME! And for the reasons stated above!

    LS's latest efforts strike me purely as a "jailhouse conversion"--you know, where after someone's been busted suddenly they've "seen the light!!!" At least until they get past the parole board anyway. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

    Very telling, IMO, is the fact that out of the few LS merchants still on my account there (which I never officially closed), the one with the WORST reported payment history is the LINKSHARE REFERRAL PROGRAM!

    Come on, certainly they don't expect me to trust a network whose own program hasn't made a payment ALL YEAR according to their own statistics!!!

    So even though some merchants are reportedly paying up (now), the lack of payments to their own program tells me that fundamentally, this network thinks it's perfectly okay to not pay, or pay when *H* is frozen solid over! Their own program is the evidence.

    (Of course I haven't been promoting that but I didn't officially "drop" it, so their report shows up.)

    BTW, CJ's "fastest growth" report is an indicator that they have not stagnated... <IMG src=http://www.abestweb.com/ubb/icons/icon38.gif>

  15. #15
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    I have to say that from our point of view, LinkShare has been great. We have been with them since the beginning of our affiliate program and they have always been there to lend a hand, solve problems and grow this sales channel.

    I know they are actively working on many of the issues that the affiliates here bring to thier attention. Overall I am very pleased with them and consider them a "partner" in the success of our program.

  16. #16
    Affiliate Manager Lionstail's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your responses to my question. I have a better understanding now of how others have fared at LS. I still think that one thing they need to do is to improve their search function. It's so easy finding merchants at CJ who sell what I want, but the LS search is meaningless.

  17. #17
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    You said you're interested in hearing all replies:

    Well, two and three months ago I had good conversions at Linkshare, they were my favorite partner. Anyway, the last two months have been very disappointing with conversions dropping from about 2-3% to less than 0.8%.

    I keep waiting for them to pick up again but they haven't. I would call it seasonal but CJ and Performics have been kicking butt! I'm beginning to think something is wrong with Linkshare or their tracking system.

    Just my two cents....

  18. #18
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    I've been selling 30 to 60 products a day for one of my merchant at LS for the last 3 years. Never a day without a sale. As one of their top performers they decided to increase my commission. A few days later, the sales suddenly stopped. For weeks I asked LS to check what was wrong. I got no support from them, they said it was on the merchant side. I had a pretty good relationship with the merchant and he was trying to help me, calling everyday LS and myself. LS told him, the problem was on my side. He said, like Jamie at Coldwater Creek, LS was very helpful with them. BS, they kiss the merchant @ss for their monthly $2500. They don't care for the affiliates. It was obvious the problem was related to the change in the commission level. I started to switch my links to an other vendor and suddenly my sales came back. Never had an answer from LS.
    Who knows if it's not happening to somebody else, without such an history it would have been hard to notice the drop in sales. Let me tell you, it will take some time for Steve Messer to regain the trust of his affiliates.

  19. #19
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    >I still think that one thing they need to do is to improve their search function. It's so easy finding merchants at CJ who sell what I want, but the LS search is meaningless.

    In my opinion, you are starting from the wrong end. LS don't have 1500 itty-bitty merchant-like e-ntity forms who sell itty-bitty merchandise-alike things for an itty-bitty 3% commission.

    Merchants at LS are proven, successful companies. Some don't know how to sell online and most don't know who an affiliate is. LS has been doing well in training the merchants and teaching them that this is a SALES channel, not an AD Network where we publish content and decorate it with advertisement and hope that people who read my mountain biking adventure will click on the decorative PerformanceBike ad on the side and buy a mountain bike or two!. (Yeah, Steve, remove those 1x1 pixels from affiliate links, please!)

    I don't know how improving the search function will help here. The big problem is... LS has been awakened already, We, the sales people know exactly what we are doing, all we need is the merchants to wake up and smell the pot!


    - BluesX

  20. #20
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    CJ and LS don't use the same business model. Don't use the search for product links, it's not done for that. Improvement in the search will just be cosmetic changes and will not bring real value. You need to work with the merchant one by one. Some are converting well, some are not. (Some are paying fast, some are not) It's the problem at LS. Reporting is working well, but you need to send out thousand of clicks to get your own opinion of the value of the merchant. If you're just starting in that business and pick up the wrong merchant, you can give up before you learn enough to be successful.
    Thanks to "Merchant Payment History" we know now who is paying or not, we still need to know who will be really converting our Click-Throughs before we join them.

  21. #21
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Vues nailed it on the head. Without a simple conversion stat showing how many clicks each merchant averages on the affiliate pool to produce one sale we are left with blind choices. Most merchants there are pure play advertisers and haven't a desire or clue on what we mean by "show us the money". They put their programs on auto pilot and look at the results once a month.

    I'd advise anyone to NOT accept a temporary commission increase offer. LS had a real bug that never reverted back to the standard offer/commission rate after the spiff expired. Instead that merchant ceased to track sales, since no commission rate was assigned to the elivated affiliate due to the bug. The Outpost and others used to do this knowing sales wouldn't track when the special offer expired. I caught them all red handed exploiting this LS feature.

  22. #22
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    >Without a simple conversion stat showing how many clicks each merchant averages on the affiliate pool to produce one sale we are left with blind choices.

    If I may add to your suggestion, I would say the curve (click/sale distribution curve over all affiliate sites) would be more valuable of a stat than the mean.

    >I'd advise anyone to NOT accept a temporary commission increase offer. LS had a real bug that never reverted back to the standard offer/commission rate after the spiff expired. Instead that merchant ceased to track sales, since no commission rate was assigned to the elivated affiliate due to the bug.


    In MY experience, this statement is not true. Every offer I took did revert back to original and kept tracking sales.

    >The Outpost and others used to do this

    Has Outpost EVER reported a sale at all? The tactic used by LS merchants is rather to change the commission level suddenly w/out anyone knowing about the change. I had a merchant dropping commissions to half and inserting -to me unacceptable- terms into the affiliate agreement without any prior notice. Oh please, let me have a chance to push the drop button first so that I can go on doing the business RIGHT!

    - BluesX

  23. #23
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    Zues,

    I am sorry you had that experience with an LS merchant. I want to reasure you and the group that we do care. LS has been driving its merchants to make a fundamental shift in treating affiliate programs as sales channels and not as marketing channels. With that change comes the realization that affiliates are very important "partners" in the sales process and they should be treated as such. And merchants are making that shift, maybe not quickly enough, but it is happening.

    As far as increasing commissions and not seeing any sales that seems odd for the merchant to do that. I know in our case if we increase commission rate for someone, we expect to see more sales as we assume the partner will be promoting us more to take advantage of the increased offer.

  24. #24
    15 years and counting
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    Jamie,
    I understand LS did a lot lately. I've seen Steve Messer taking the heat on message boards and not only at ABW. It was a very positive attitude and I've not been closing my account. But, I still remember the bad old days when I lost a small fortune with them. I remember the way we were treated as affiliates. They had some arrogant people at that time. Let's say it was the past. The house was clean up.
    The lack of communication was the worse. Now we have a special liaison. Perfect. Hi Sarah.
    But when a problem arise the past come back. I hope and think the pb I had a few months ago was a technical glitch. I'm still working with the merchant, sales are up and reporting is back to normal. LS should investigate what EcomCity said:
    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>LS had a real bug that never reverted back to the standard offer/commission rate after the spiff expired. Instead that merchant ceased to track sales, since no commission rate was assigned to the elivated affiliate due to the bug. The Outpost and others used to do this knowing sales wouldn't track when the special offer expired. I caught them all red handed exploiting this LS feature. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    I had also this kind of problem with other merchants {too late for Outpost} sales not reporting after commission change.
    Jamie, you are one of the few merchants thinking of affiliates as a sale channel, and I'm sure it will benefit greatly your company.

  25. #25
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Organic:
    If so, what's the frustration? Is it the merchants, the tracking, the commissions, the payment?

    I'm interested in hearing all opinions. Dave
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    We are owed a very large chunk of change by LS merchants who stiffed us and the response from LS was basically, "here's their phone number, do it yourself." This was for merchants that pay directly AND merchants that have LS handling their payments! LS can kiss what I'm sittin' on, as far as I'm concerned they have treated us like dog doo. We work with Fineclicks,s CJ, Shareasale, and Websponsors, and have never had this problem with anyone except LS. They have ceratinly given us the impression that their affiliates are at the bottom of their financial totem pole. I also read a report recently that if a merchant owes them money, they pay the affiliates last, which means that if the merchant ends up stiffing them, they get their cut, and us, who are doing all of the work, get nothing. This is only from one source, but it makes perfect sense to me given how much trouble we've had collecting.

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