View Poll Results: Is rebating a raw deal for merchants?

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  • Yes - and they will continue to be

    6 30.00%
  • Maybe - only if they narrow down their merchant partners

    2 10.00%
  • No - merchants will stop working with them one by one (like Amazon)

    12 60.00%
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  1. #1
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    I'm thinking about starting a site based on affiliate programs, and the toughest decision is whether to offer consumer rebates or not.

    I think rebates such as eBates is a great deal for consumers, but I honestly think that is a raw deal for merchants. Why should merchants pay REPEATEDLY for the same users over and over again? eBates will probably argue that they have loyal users, but the fact is, users are loyal to eBates, and not the merchants.

    Another point is that incentive marketing has been around forever. However, most of those programs work with select partners in any given industry. For example, a program might work with Mobil gas station, but not Arco, thus from a merchants point of view, they would be willing to work with one of those programs because the program makes users loyal to their biz. In case of eBates, users save on almost all online stores.

    Question is: Do you believe eBates-like model is sustainable?

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Loyality sales promotions should be the exclusive job of the merchant's sales staff. Turning over your repeat customers to a 3rd disinterested party is a sure fire way to get milked on the easy sales. If it wasn't for lazy AM's there would be real restrictions on "incented" traffic let alone paying extra for it.

    Webmaster Mike

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  3. #3
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    I would vote but get the feeling I may help justify someones thinking just because someone else can swipe our traffic it is OK for others to do the same!!!!!
    WW

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  4. #4
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Why should merchants pay REPEATEDLY for the same users over and over again? eBates will probably argue that they have loyal users, but the fact is, users are loyal to eBates, and not the merchants.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I have some experience with this because we build analysis and management solutions for rebate and loyalty type of sites.

    My quick observerations

    - The savviest affiliates realize their surfers are their customers and not the merchants. Why should a merchant pay for repeat customers? Because consumers will go to another merchant that will give them the perk. Granted some merchants won't do it, but the majority will and still do.

    - Loyalty sites drive large numbers of transactions. This is undisputed. (Even loyalty sites that do not use software in case anyone wanted to go there)

    - Loyalty sites have greater EPCs then traditional sites. Obviously because consumers want to get rewards.

    - Loyalty sites have a stronger value proposition then sites that do not use loyalty mechanisms.

    - Loyalty shopping has been around for a long time and will continue to be around for a long time it is embraced by some of the largest brands in existence.

    best,
    Wayne

    Wayne Porter
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  5. #5
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    When it comes to offering rebates, I think it's a raw deal for AFFILIATES! Those jokers are effectively cutting the commissions realized. I think when a place pays 10%, that giving away 5% of it to a person just for clicking MY link, shouldn't be part of the equation.

    For the merchant, I don't think it's a good long-term proposition. Most of the bricks-and-mortars that make a decent go of a rebate, only have it for a limited time to raise their OWN brand awareness and then kill the offer. More like a variant of a coupon, than an ongoing thing... and if they don't have the chance to raise their own brand awareness, there wouldn't be much point in it. If they're willing to take less money on an ongoing basis, they can just lower their prices across-the-board and then the increased sales they're hoping for wouldn't be limited to just a few outlets that would do nothing for their brand.

    As for it being sustainable, I'd say it's Dubious. Rebating has been around for ages--but rebate places dying has been around for ages, too. It's more like, there'll be SOME place that'll do it, but probably not the same place, year after year. I'd expect a succession of offers and companies involved.

    It's the most wonderful time of the year! ~From a "Golden Era" Christmas Song

  6. #6
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    Leader,


    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> When it comes to offering rebates, I think it's a raw deal for AFFILIATES! Those jokers are effectively cutting the commissions realized. I think when a place pays 10%, that giving away 5% of it to a person just for clicking MY link, shouldn't be part of the equation.

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It all depends on scale Leader. If an operation can scale the number of transactions then the rebate strategy works.


    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> For the merchant, I don't think it's a good long-term proposition. Most of the bricks-and-mortars that make a decent go of a rebate, only have it for a limited time to raise their OWN brand awareness and then kill the offer. More like a variant of a coupon, than an ongoing thing... and if they don't have the chance to raise their own brand awareness, there wouldn't be much point in it. If they're willing to take less money on an ongoing basis, they can just lower their prices across-the-board and then the increased sales they're hoping for wouldn't be limited to just a few outlets that would do nothing for their brand.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Agreed. There is a brewing controversy on whether merchants want to particpate in rebating. For a merchant with no or an emerging brand it is good for them because it drives sales and raises awareness. For established brands it becomes even murkier.

    Then again there are alot of brands who think affiliates are fodder and have no desire to share anything with them. i.e. Users should be able to find them without the help of an affiliate of any kind.

    I don't think that is right, but I have heard it more than once.

    On the flip side many large brands *love* sites like Upromise, SchoolCash, SchoolPop, iGive, etc because it does elevate their brand in the eyes of consumers.

    best,
    Wayne

    Wayne Porter
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  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador webmarm's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> (Even loyalty sites that do not use software in case anyone wanted to go there)
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I've actually been thinking a lot about that one. If a rebate site were the only one in the hat, then I'd agree with Leader that for the affiliate it would be great for the ego to drive more transactions but I'd cross my eyes personally at the money walking out the door with every transaction.

    OTOH, if a rebate site were in the mix of an affiliate's bag of tricks, and the site had some niche to fill (i.e. not just another rebate site), I think that it could be a very good addition.

    My personal stipulation: No nasty software tricks that steal commissions from other affiliates.

    Regarding the question of merchant side, I have truly wondered why a merchant would work with a BHO like eBates. "The competition is listed there, so I better be, also" just doesn't make enough business sense to my limited understanding of business. Customer acquisition and branding are great reasons to do a limited time rebate program, as stated by Leader and Wayne. However, eBates makes sure that any click via Bookmark, Free search engine listing, or even a redirect such as a Google AdWords listing is monetized. The merchant may have acquired branding in the eyes of the consumer, but continues to pay commissions. Seems like a business model made for dot bombing.

    So my thoughts run towards a niche site that offers rebates without any software tricks. Loyalty from the niche interest and the rebates ought to bring the customer back to the site. If the merchant convinces the customer to shop directly through whatever fair and square means (newsletter coupons good for example), then so be it.

    JMO.

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  8. #8
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
    - Loyalty sites have greater EPCs then traditional sites. Obviously because consumers want to get rewards.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    At least one of the things that accounts for the higher EPC is that people will, after landing on the merchants page, visit the rebate portal and then re-click through to the merchant's site so that they get credit. Of course the parasitic software simply attempts to automate this process, but, even in absense of that many will remember to visit the rebate portal so they get credit. The original affiliate which truly generated the lead again gets screwed. Or, if the lead came via offline advertising, free or PPC search, or other non affiliate marketing, the merchant pays for a sale they may have otherwise gotten for "free" (or at an already expended cost).

    I wonder how much of that accounts for higher EPC?

    Replacing rebate with whatever reward is being incented also works... though there isnt many greater motivators than cash in your pocket..

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    The Newer Nicer Joseph

  9. #9
    ABW Veteran Student Heyder's Avatar
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    I hope to start a (non software) rebate site because it is the most cost effective marketing method. Multiple sales from the same customer will amount to a greater gain in the long run.

  10. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Isn't it amazing how I can stir up the pot. Remember a while back when I said this whole "incent" deal was going to split the affiliate camp into teams with red shirts and black shirts. The red shirt crew can step over here and the smart folks like Wayne and TopMoxie will be more than willing to give you some secret weapons for the battle...for a fee.

    The goal is to see who can drain the seemingly bottomless commission pool of all the floating dollar bills and the 20 & 100's are just below the surface. The black shirts have to swim and use minnow nets while the red shirts can use gil nets and pool side skimmers.

    Some will just devise a way to suck the big bills from the pool with drains or vaccums rather than play the game.

    Webmaster Mike

    "Anyone can make a dollar, it is when you make sense that it starts to add up."...does your eBiz plan make sense?

  11. #11
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> At least one of the things that accounts for the higher EPC is that people will, after landing on the merchants page, visit the rebate portal and then re-click through to the merchant's site so that they get credit. Of course the parasitic software simply attempts to automate this process, but, even in absense of that many will remember to visit the rebate portal so they get credit. The original affiliate which truly generated the lead again gets screwed. Or, if the lead came via offline advertising, free or PPC search, or other non affiliate marketing, the merchant pays for a sale they may have otherwise gotten for "free" (or at an already expended cost). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Joseph,

    Not all incentive portals use software.

    Yes consumers may go to a site and then remember they can earn rewards. Is that fair? Certainly. They have acquired that customer, the customer is making a conscious choice to do this.

    In some cases the merchant might be making money on stuff they would sell, but how many times is it closing they might not otherwise get?

    For example there are two local grocery chains where i live Giant Eagle and Heinen's. I now shop Giant Eagle more frequently because I am earning rewards for my kid's college funds. (I still got Heninen's for sushi and speciality items because they have a better selection.) In this case the reward has changed my shopping behavior. Same for airline miles which I like to collect.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> The red shirt crew can step over here and the smart folks like Wayne and TopMoxie will be more than willing to give you some secret weapons for the battle...for a fee. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    LOL. I have been relegated to the red team.
    Yes Mike for a fee we can supply those tools, otherwise we would be another one of those "freebie eye-ball dipers" you are always ranting about.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> The goal is to see who can drain the seemingly bottomless commission pool of all the floating dollar bills and the 20 & 100's are just below the surface. The black shirts have to swim and use minnow nets while the red shirts can use gil nets and pool side skimmers.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The goal is to generate sustainable revenue in the most cost-effective manner as possible.

    best,
    -wayne

    Wayne Porter
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  12. #12
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Joseph,

    Not all incentive portals use software. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    For the record... I know they don't all use software, and I didn't mean to imply that all do.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Yes consumers may go to a site and then remember they can earn rewards. Is that fair? Certainly. They have acquired that customer, the customer is making a conscious choice to do this.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Fair? I don't know. I don't think your grocery example really fits. The reward card is offered by the merchant itself. If I got paid a commission to send you to (recommend, whatever) a certain grocery, then you went there, and at the point of sale, pulled out your reward card which nullified my commission for sending you there, would that be fair? Of course, life isn't fair, and I'm naive enough to think that everything should be fair.

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  13. #13
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    The poll and message header are in conflict.

    Yes, rebates are a raw deal for the merchant. You have to waste time calculating, paying and dealing with complaints about the rebates. It also means you have to either jack up your price for everyone else or sell at a loss---dot com doom style.

    However the practice is sustainable. Heroine addiction is sustainable. You steal from your family until they are all broke. Then you start robbing gas stations. You never need to quit. It is sustainable.

    A better question is if the time wasted on stupid gimmicks is worth the effort?

    There is maybe 5% of the market that won't make a purchase unless there is a gimmick. So everyone chases them at a loss.

    IMHO, the company that adopts a gimmick free style will always get my dollar. Walmart is the biggest retailer because they have everyday low prices. You can count on it.

    Stating clearly that you give no coupons and rebates and concentrate on lower prices will bring you the coveted return user.

    Revtrends is right about gimmicks having a higher EPC. But is that really the metrics that matter? The gimmick often compels a sell, but the user expects a gimmick for a return sale.

    Having no rebates and clear low price strategy puts the end user in a more rational frame of mind. They are less likely to make an impulse buy, but are more likely to come back and make saner purchases.

    Both the couponmania and low price/no gimmick methods work. Coupon/rebate frenzy has a higher EPC, but requires a continuous effort to feed the coupon addiction. Lower prices bring in rational customers.

    Both strategies are valid. Mixing the strategies does not work. You need to decide up front what strategy you want to pursue and stick with it. If you go the coupon free route, then make a deal about it. Put a blurb that says you offer lower prices because you don't have coupons.

    As for the affiliate side of this whole thing. Your best affiliates will be those that bring in customers for a looksy at particular products. Please note, these sites might have a great deal of traffic that is just researching.

    Coupons and rebates hurt these affiliates, since people will run out to find the coupons.

    The EPC from the affiliates with a good product listing will be lower than the EPC from a coupon pusher. That is because the EPC is not the important metric. The important metric is conversion per customer.

    The rational shopper who researchers purchases and makes decisions according to what they need tend to have more clicks per purchase than the pure impulse shopper.

    The coupon method attracts people who have fewer clicks per purchase. The low price strategy gets people who research and have more clicks per purchase.

    The important metric is sale per person, not sale per click. If Stable Sue averages 100 clicks per purchase and Irrational Rose averages 20 clicks per purchase, the sites that attract Stable Sue will have a lower EPC than Irrational Rose, but have the same conversion per customer.

    The EPC of the irrational purchaser is higher than that of the rational purchaser, simply because the rational purchaser has more clicks.

    Several people have noticed that their EPC drops when they have data feeds and a great deal of information on products.

    The reason this happens is because having more information enduces more clicks per purchase.

    Let's say EcomCity has an info rich page with 10 links to widgets on his site, and information about each of the widgets. EcomCity's legendary presale ability increases the likilhood that the customer buys, but also increases the number of clicks. EcomCity's presale might generate 3 clicks per customer.

    My lazy site with a coupon doesn't increase the chance of a purchase, but it generates at most one click per customer. My conversion per customer is lower, but my EPC is higher. Your bottom line from my coupon customers is substantially less than you get from EcomCity, yet I look better on the EPC stats. This is a statistical illusion.

    boom!

  14. #14
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Yintercept ..you are right on the money in your analysis. They are two seperate methods of acquiring customers and definately do not mix. Evidence the rise of Walmart to establish they do not need coupons to generate return customers ..just consistant low prices. Then the local fancy restaurant or pizza joint has to match coupon for coupon with his rival down the block or they loose customers.

    I just challenge those like Overstock, who go so far as to guarantee the lowest price to prevent comparision shopping, (click aways) wasting their time -energy and profits by handing out a few coupons to feed the parasites and non-BHO "incent" sites. Totally ludicrious when the plan should be to force affiliates to focus shoppers to specific deals showing a high conversion ratio.

    Webmaster Mike

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  15. #15
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    The web really needs more companies with straight pricing. Accomplishing this is simply the matter of telling people outright that you have no coupons and will never have coupons.

    The key is making this info known. Otherwise, people might delay purchases waiting for sales.

    boom!

  16. #16
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    Walmart is hardly above gimmicks. They of course accept manufacturers coupons. They price match competitors. And they offer that $3 off if a price scans incorrecly. All of which are somewhat gimmicky and all of which they try to get out of when called on. I, too, wish a lot of these gimmicks at B&M's would just go away. They offer price matching with 110% gurantee, and all of this BS, then when you try to take advantage of it you're a criminal, and they want to get out of it. Just do away with it. Total waste of time and money for customer and cashier, manager etc... Sorry, a bit off topic.

    Anyway, careful what you ask for. Some of the best straight up (and lowest) priced etailers also offer no affiliate program. Check out Godaddy vs. Dotster or whoever. Godaddy has grown by leaps and bounds (Like #4 now?) and no affiliate program (correct me if i'm wrong), but $8 or $9 domains.. hard to beat. Newegg, Googlegear... No programs that I know of. At least not public/widespread.. But very well known, and well, rightfully so with their pricing. It sucks, I'd love to promote some of these places since they seem to have good prices, few gimmicks, built good brand recognition quickly, shoppers seem to love them, etc, so I bet they would convert well, but I can't.

    Perhaps I shouldn't even post that in this forum.... hmm... Don't want to give anyone any ideas... though I'm really not delusional enough to believe any merchant would listen to what I wrote and make a business decision based on it

    --
    The Newer Nicer Joseph



    Oh, and, I won't even go into walmart.com ...


    Edit2: I have no idea what these companies' numbers look like. They could be leaking cash hand over fist, or, not really as well known as I think.. since I tend to be involved in the type of tech savvy circles that would be aware of these kind of sites...

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador ShoreMark's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Joseph Monuit:
    price matching with 110% gurantee, and all of this BS,<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I love the car ads on the radio that say, "We'll pay you $500 if we can't beat your best price." They could frame that $500 check and hang it on the wall, it'll never be cashed by anyone.

    Oh and this one on car financing, "100% of qualified buyers are approved!"

    Well, yea duh, if you're qualified I'm sure you'll be approved.

  18. #18
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Anyway, careful what you ask for. Some of the best straight up (and lowest) priced etailers also offer no affiliate program.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Affiliate advertising itself is pretty much just a gimmick. I suspect that 98% of affiliates are actually people trying to get a discount on purchases. Of course, they rarely meet minimums.

    Prominent display of the affiliate link is probably the single most effective diversionary tactic in the merchant's kit.

    However, no company is an island. They need partners. Affiliation is a good quick way to define a partnership. Personally, I wouldn't mind a 2% commission at some of these gimmick free low priced sites.

    boom!

  19. #19
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    Hello, Since I run a service related to rebates and discounts similar to ebates, I have to jump into this subject, To tell you the truth I think rebate sites who do not use software( like us) and provide valuable, educational content to our customers, and donate the proceeds collected to Non-profit Organizations should be considered great sites.

    Like Wayne Porter- AffTrack said about

    Quote: For example there are two local grocery chains where i live Giant Eagle and Heinen's. I now shop Giant Eagle more frequently because I am earning rewards for my kid's college funds. (I still got Heninen's for sushi and speciality items because they have a better selection.) In this case the reward has changed my shopping behavior. Same for airline miles which I like to collect.

    So I could go on and on but I think if It's a site that really offers a good cause and perhaps gifts/rewards and actually is visitor friendly. I think these sites are worth it.

    Jason
    Santa Cruz, CA 95060
    affiliate program: http://www.shareasale.com/shareasale.cfm?merchantID=857

  20. #20
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>So I could go on and on but I think if It's a site that really offers a good cause and perhaps gifts/rewards and actually is visitor friendly. I think these sites are worth it. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I would disagree with that statement. The important thing is that the merchant defines their strategy and niche and stick to it. It is bad business to break your business model...even for a worthy cause.

    The ideal is that there should be thousands of online merchants with different strategies. You, as an affiliate, would find a strategy that fits right for you.

    I like your model. I think there would be a good niche market for merchants that cater just to the fund raising crowd.

    The whole point is that the merchant needs to define their strategy and stick to it. Once you have one incent affiliate...you become an incent site.

    BTW, a smart merchant might actually extablish two web sites with different brands. One runs a no gimmick/low price campaign...the other runs in full or partial gimmick mode, with higher prices and killer coupons.

    boom!

  21. #21
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Anyway, careful what you ask for. Some of the best straight up (and lowest) priced etailers also offer no affiliate program. Check out Godaddy vs. Dotster or whoever. Godaddy has grown by leaps and bounds (Like #4 now?) and no affiliate program (correct me if i'm wrong), but $8 or $9 domains.. hard to beat. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Good observation Joseph. Perhaps some merchants feel they don't need "middle-men" and want to pass the savings directly to customers and rely on their own ability to advertise and attract customers and compete more effectively on price. This was the original promise of e-commerce- reduced costs because the channel was more efficient.


    We can forget what we want. In reality it boils down to what the customer wants because they hold the dollars. We can theorize all day long, but the bottom line is customer desires and behavior is the real driver.

    Evidence supports that:

    Some customers like rebates.
    Some customer like coupons.
    Some customers like incentives and rewards.
    Some customers will pay more for quality or brand, to others this is not a factor.

    The majority of customers love a good deal no matter how it is wrapped or presented.


    best,
    Wayne

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  22. #22
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    Hi Guys,
    I had to get on this discussion as well. I think that the long term success of Ebates will eventually lose some of its steam and more affiliates will began to remove themselves from Ebates style of rebates. Ebates does not create brand loyalty for the merchants. Ebates creates thier own brand loyalty because all shoppers enjoy paying less for thier purchases. Ebates does very little for large more established companies except lower their margins on the items they sell because of their affiliation with that type of store.
    The only type of sites that offer rebates or incentives are the ones like Upromise, BuyForCharity, and Schoolpop. Merchants love those type of sites because shoppers feel good about shopping because they feel they are not only getting what they want, they are also making a differance, whether it is to their charity,kids school, or college fund. Ebates is not providing anything but straight cash back. They do not provide shoppers with a warm feeling after making the purchase. it is my belief that over time companies will continue to migrate to the goodwill incentive sites more and more as the affiliate sites continue to develop.
    I understand that right now ebates is driving large amoounts of traffic and has higher EPC rates, but DUH!!!! Why wouldn't they? They should have some of the highest in the industry. What does that prove? If the same shoppers would have gobe to bestbuy anyways,what sense does it make for Bestbuy or Gap. None, if the traffic is coming from Ebates. Ebates growth strategy is basically this......Ebates......buy your merchandise cheaper with our rebates. If you look on any search engine, that is basically what they are saying. If i was a big merchant I would end my affiliation with Ebates today and I am not saying this because they have software and all that.
    Keeping that mind, I will say that I am in the process of developing a similiar ebates web-site. The real reality is only one store thus far has removed them so it appears that at this point money can be made in rebate web-sites IF you can drive the traffic. I just wanted to be fair and balanced and let you know that.

    Interested in feedback!

  23. #23
    ABW Veteran jc101's Avatar
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    Actually I'm trying to stay away from Incentive sites as much as possible. Anyway Let the opinions and feedback still come... As we all would like opinions on rebate sites. But we do need to remember that some Incentive sites like (ebates) cyberrebates, etc went out of business. Depends on the model and content.

    Jason
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  24. #24
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    Posts
    372
    Said Wayne:
    "Loyalty sites have a stronger value proposition then sites that do not use loyalty mechanisms."

    This is a very strong, and I suspect incorrect statment. Perhaps Wayne wants to modify the statement to read "Loyalty sites have a stronger value proposition THAN SIMILAR sites that do not use loyalty mechanisms."

    Or does Wayne really believe that loyalty sites like ebates are the sites with the strongest value proposition overall?

    Mike Jacobs

    --------------------------------------
    WebMogul - Online Marketing that Works
    www.webmogul.com
    --------------------------------------

  25. #25
    Full Member
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    Posts
    372
    Said Wayne:
    > Some customers like rebates.
    > Some customer like coupons.
    > Some customers like incentives and rewards.

    I am in complete agreement.

    However, I think it is absolutely incorrect to assume that loyalty sites necessarily have the best delivery of such.

    Loyalty sites are an expensive proposition, given the cut of the sale they take, and the pull away from the merchant site they represent.

    They are but one choice of delivering these offers. Unfortunately, "lazy AMs" (as someone described them) are partially at fault for keeping them one of few apparent options. There are numerous ways for doing ALL of what Waynes has noted that customers might like without resorting to passing the buck through loyalty sites. How about coupon/discount unaccessable through affiliate links (a few prominent sites have already used 'em? How about actual incentives and rewards given by the merchant?

    In the end, ALL OF THESE THINGS EXISTED BEFORE LOYALTY SITES. I'm not sure why the thinking isn't that they are necessary to continue them. If they are simply a distribution mechanism for such incentives, a much better job could be done by all.

    But, more importantly, I think these companies will be squeezed out more and more. As merchants actually start running their stats (god, imagine that) and actually calculating the value coming from these transactions and customers, they might not be willing to give the ebates of this world the share's they are currently getting. Unfortunately, EPC is a VERY lousy proxy for this type of analysis. When a few get more sophisticated (like Amazon), the squeeze will be on...

    MIKE FESSES: I have consulted for one of the high-profile loyalty sites

    Mike Jacobs

    --------------------------------------
    WebMogul - Online Marketing that Works
    www.webmogul.com
    --------------------------------------

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