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  1. #1
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    Hi all. A few months ago, I posted a note where I was pondering eliminating LinkShare as our affiliate provider for www.DriveWerks.com. Many of you had a lot of opinions. Some of you called me - I thank you for your information and support that you gave me. Here's the original thread:

    http://abw.infopop.cc/eve/ubb.x?a=tp...1688#945101688

    At this moment in time, we have renewed our contract with LinkShare for another year. We have also continued our contract with Chris Sanderson and AMWSO for that duration as well. Chris has done wonders for promoting our program and helping our affiliate partners.

    Why did we stick with LinkShare? There were a number of reasons. Our top performing affiliates really had no major gripes against LinkShare. Some of the smaller affiliates reported that they were frustrated with no-partial-check-payments, but the staff at LinkShare assured me that this feature is coming in the first half of 2005.

    I also perform the backend website programming for the company www.MaxStudio.com, and they use CJ. Some of the gripes and problems that we've seen with LinkShare are also present in CJ, so a switch to that provider would not be a cure-all. In the end, we basically decided that our current affiliate base was already setup on LinkShare and we didn't want to disturb the equilibrium - despite the high fees that we've been paying to LinkShare.

    Soon after I posted that original discussion, our activation and affiliate interest increased. I can only guess that people perhaps saw that post and decided to check us out (we sell automotive parts and accessories for *all* makes and models of cars and trucks). If things were going steadily downhill, then it would have been easier to switch. However, the momentum appeared (and still appears today) to be increasing quite steadily.

    I'm still not terribly happy with the overall "attitude" from LinkShare - they basically said "this is the way it is - take it or leave it." It's obvious that I am not a large client to them. However, Carrie (one of the managers over there) was very nice and is going to be working with us in the near future to try to improve our LinkShare performance.

    That said, we're signed up for another year, and are currently looking for new affiliates. We have Chris at the helm of the program and I have also recently aquired 100% of the company from my business partner. Look for another year of stable growth in our program, as we are committed to making this work with both our affiliates and LinkShare.

    Thanks again!

    -Wayne

  2. #2
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    Wayne,

    I can't say much for Linkshare but kudo's on re-signing with Chris.

    I'm a little-fish in your program and I found a problem when I was working with your datafeed. I e-mailed him yesterday and within a few hours he was back to me with a fix to the problem..

    It's great to see a program where the small players get this kind of service..

  3. #3
    Affiliate Miester my2cents's Avatar
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    Ditto what HotSpice said....

    Guess I'll get busy and convert my autoparts site over to Drivewerks... jow that i know what's what....

    Joe
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    that's my2cents, 'cuz I'm a legend in my own mind....

  4. #4
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    Sorry to hear it. I am not adding anything else from LS and was looking forward to utilizing your program.


  5. #5
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    I'm planning on cutting out about 70% or so of my LS merchants from my sites early next year but when I go to revamp my auto pages I'll be sure to check your offering.

  6. #6
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Some of the smaller affiliates reported that they were frustrated with no-partial-check-payments, but the staff at LinkShare assured me that this feature is coming in the first half of 2005.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    unfortunately, we've had that promise before. I can't believe all their merchants will buy into that deal. I'm cleaning house whether or not certain merchants have owed me money for up to two years. In the event the rules change I'll see who is left to play with.

  7. #7
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    What is a partial-check-payment?

  8. #8
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    refers to the lack of consolidated payments

  9. #9
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Hotspice:
    Wayne,

    I can't say much for Linkshare but kudo's on re-signing with Chris.

    I'm a little-fish in your program and I found a problem when I was working with your datafeed. I e-mailed him yesterday and within a few hours he was back to me with a fix to the problem..

    It's great to see a program where the small players get this kind of service.. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes, Chris and I worked late last night on a problem with the datafeed. Let Chris (or me) know if you have any more problems. Sorry about that - a tag was missing from the feed. It should work fine now. We've actually been making a bunch of incremental improvements to that area of the site in order to improve conversion and readability. It's much better now...

    Thanks!

    -Wayne

  10. #10
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> At this moment in time, we have renewed our contract with LinkShare for another year. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You wimp.

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I understand all the reasoning you did to come to the conclusion you did...

    ...but for me it was a wrong choice.

    I'm standing firm on my boycott of signing up for any more merchants at LS. Sadly, their "this is the way it is - take it or leave it." stance to both merchants and affiliates alike is exactly why I will no longer sign up for other merchants there.

    [added as an after though] CJ is not without it's problems as is true with every network, but for me they made the turning point about a year ago. About then I saw genuine interest and concern regarding affiliate and merchant concerns. More importantly they have taken these suggestions and concerns and acted upon them. I've personally made a few suggestions which they have implimented. At least CJ has an active voice here with Todd and we see their forum being interactive versus this LS forum which is mainly one sided.

    I hope a year from now you (and your affiliates) can say you made the right choice.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  12. #12
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    Wayne,

    Thank you for sharing your process with us. It was very interesting and I learned a lot from it.

    Much success this year.

    Best wishes, Lily

  13. #13
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    Wayne,

    That does sound like a carefully considered decision-making process.

    Something else to consider: eXact Advertising's CashBack by BargainBuddy is in MaxStudio's affiliate program (though not in DriveWerks' program). Given the concerns I previously reported, including installation through security holes without any notice or consent whatsoever, this might not be a download you want in either of the programs you work on.


    Ben

  14. #14
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Something else to consider: eXact Advertising's CashBack by BargainBuddy is in MaxStudio's affiliate program (though not in DriveWerks' program). Given http://abw.infopop.cc/eve/ubb.x?a=tp...&m=3931021901, including installation through security holes without any notice or consent whatsoever, this might not be a download you want in either of the programs you work on.
    Ben <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    For the record - I have *nothing* to do with the management of MaxStudio's current affiliate program, other than making sure the back-end technology is working. Unfortunately, their affiliate program can be best labeled as "unmanaged" at this time. I am trying to get them to sign with Chris and WSO, but it has been an uphill battle. I have informed them of the undesirable affiliates that may currently reside in their stable, but they don't even quite understand the basic issues, so they can't understand the problems at hand.

    -Wayne

  15. #15
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by 7-days:

    I'm standing firm on my boycott of signing up for any more merchants at LS. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Without dilvulging too many details, some excellent advice was given to me by a large-scale affilate who gave me a call on this issue. Her advice (which was very 'sage') was that the affiliate programs are based on the success of the affiliate and merchant - not the provider. Basically, if you ignore an affiliate program that pays a good commission, has a good return rate, has good management and follow-thru, offers a cadre of tools and help setting up the site, and is generally a good program, soley because you don't like the network, then you are probably not making the best business decision. What I came to realize is that all of the affiliate networks are basically very similar, each one having its own strengths and weaknesses. But in the long run they are pretty transparent. It's like saying "I'm not going to use XYZ cell phone company because they only use Motorola phones and I don't like Motorola phones." Yes, if you have a strong adversion to Motorola, then okay. But for the most part, the cell phone is merely a conduit for the service.

    -Wayne

  16. #16
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    One more thing to note is that moving from LinkShare would have seriously hurt our current affiliates. I have no intention of doing that, just to possibly gain some other affiliates who haven't signed up with our program currently, and only *might* sign up in the future. Our current affiliate base is very loyal and truly indeed are partners in this whole process. We felt that the shortcomings of LinkShare were not enough to warrant inflicting the pain of moving on our affiliates. Of course, I'm sure LinkShare was counting on that as well.

    -Wayne

  17. #17
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Wayne,

    All networks aren't equal. For instance, based on my own personal experiences and the experiences I've seen from many others, I would NEVER work with a merchant whose only affiliate program was through ClixGalore.com. I've turned down merchants before when that was the only network they used.

    Linkshare isn't as bad as ClixGalore.com, but they're getting there. Three years ago, they were my favorite of the major networks. Now, they're my least favorite. While the other networks have all moved forward and made significant improvements, Linkshare has taken several significant steps backwards. There is a serious disconnect between Linkshare and the affiliate community. Reporting and tracking problems are rampant. Payments are continually delayed. Support is awful. Every "enhancement" (login, profile, datafeed, etc.)they make to their interface creates new work for affiliates. Affiliate-friendly features such as direct deposit, consolidated payments, timely payments, network-wide merchant statistics, and the ability to consolidate reporting are all lacking. There is no accountability.

    I'm not yet to the point where I will leave my existing Linkshare merchants, but I have favored merchants with other networks over Linkshare merchants for quite a while now. All other things being equal, I consider merchants from other networks first.

    My opinion is... Merchants who haven't chosen a network need to look elsewhere at this time. Merchants who are with Linkshare need to either press Linkshare to make some significant improvements, or should consider biting the bullet and moving to another network.

    I understand the disruption that you and your current affiliates would have to go through to switch networks. I've had dozens of merchants switch networks. It's a pain, especially in your case with your datafeed being such a significant part of your affiliate program. I'm not sure I would switch if I were you, either.

    [Edited to link to examples of various problems.]
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Michael,

    Very well said.

    I agree that Linkshare is moving backward. And by their lack of communication to merchants and affiliates, their delays in payment processing, their poor ability to monitor parasitic activity (even with their own awardees), they show us they lack the ability to take that much needed baby step to move forward.

    I find it amazing when a company with so much potential just sits back and watches all that potential go down the drain.

    What is really sad is that merchants and affiliates have come to accept Linkshare's "this is the way it is - take it or leave it." way of doing things.

    Sorry, that's just not the way I want to do business with any company.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  19. #19
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    I agree with Michael too. LS is going backwards.

    It used to be that Mr Messer could come on ABW and honestly explain how LS was moving forward. A lot of us might have disagreed with his assessments, but nowadays I don't think he could convince even the diehards that LS is moving in the right direction.

    Wayne, I think you are wasting money with LS, but that is a business decision. Maybe you are afraid your affiliates won't follow and you feel trapped.

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    All personal and business feelings aside, I do think Wayne is doing the right thing by coming here and explaining his reasoning for doing what he is doing. If LinkShare had that kind of courage maybe they would not be frowned upon by the affiliate community such as they are.

    My negative comments are not directed to Wayne or his program, but to LinkShare. I'm sorry, Wayne, if some of us used this thread to vent our frustrations with this company. I'm afraid you've got caught up in it because we don't want to see a good merchant fail. I strongly suggest if you are indeed staying with LinkShare that you don't accept the "this is the way it is - take it or leave it" attitude and demand changes by Mr. Messer.

    Wayne, you might want to think about offering two affiliate programs. One outside of LS and one with. Offer an independent program with a slightly higher percentage and give your current LS affiliates a year to move over. I know of several companies that offer both and I've had some success with their off-network programs.

    Good luck with your program.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  21. #21
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Wayne,

    I bought a Treo 600 with sprint-pcs and can honestly say I hate the service but love the phone, was a long time Verizon user but wanted the treo. Now with the new 650, once again first launched with sprint, many will switch to sprint because they want the phone. Once the 650 is on Verizon, I don't care If I have to pay full price for the new phone and take a loss on my old phone because sprint-pcs absolutely sucks.

    Legend:
    ========
    Merchant = cell phone (many to chose from)

    Affiliate Network = wireless carrier

    Do you see the difference in the analogy?
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  22. #22
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Wow Michael, what a great edit (adding the links), that summarizes it perfectly.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  23. #23
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Thanks Haiko! If anyone missed my summary of the problems with Linkshare (with links added), it's on the previous page.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  24. #24
    Content $ Queen Ebudae's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by 7-days:
    Wayne, you might want to think about offering two affiliate programs. Good luck with your program. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That is a good idea - why not try SAS and let the affiliates decide which one they would rather work with?

    I am sad you didn't decide to move but I understand. And thanks for letting us know the reasons.
    Ebudae


  25. #25
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ebudae:
    That is a good idea - why not try SAS and let the affiliates decide which one they would rather work with? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    As far as I know, my contract with LinkShare is an exclusive agreement to use them for that domain. During the new year, I can possibly setup another domain and implement SAS on it. That was an idea that Chris and I were kicking around...

    Then again, the affiliates here who are currently not part of our program who are saying they would use SAS and sign up - well there's no guarantees. We could perform all of this work to switch, severely irritate our current affiliate base, and then be stuck with a larger mess than is right now. In the long run, we decided that we needed to support and take care of the people who were already committed to DriveWerks, and had already implemented our program. Surprisingly, the complaints from them regarding LinkShare were relatively minimal, when compared to potential affiliates who are currently not signed up with our program.

    -Wayne

    P.S. Post edited because people were misconstruing what I said...

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