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  1. #1
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Things we need to fix...
    Hey all, after discussions with a few other ABWers we decided to start a public thread to offer discussion on some of the negative aspects of ShareASale so that we would be able to respond and address the problems...

    We've had wonderful support from ABW members ever since coming online to this community several years ago - and I want you all to know that we do value open critique of what we do, and how we do it - honestly it is the most helpful type of dialouge that we can have because it really focuses our attention and helps us to fix holes in our model.

    That being said, comment away - what don't you like? what holds you back? what nagging problem do you have? etc... And if you would prefer to comment to me behind the scenes, just send me a PM with your concern, or email me directly, and I will summarize the issue and offer our response without naming you as the source of the comment... If you would prefer that even we don't know who the source of the comment is, that is fine - I am sure that there are willing participants here who will take your comment/question and summarize it for you - I haven't asked either of the about-to-be-mentioned people yet - so I am assuming that they'll help , but perhaps one of our moderators - even Haiko, or Kellie, Michael, etc... can help you in summarizing your question while remaining anonymous.

    Thanks for all your help, hope we can turn some positive change out of a negative(ish) thread. At the very least, you may learn why we do certain things the way we do them.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  2. #2
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    I think the #1 problem which you can see easily by reading the threads in the SAS forum are the temp offline merchants. I know it's been talked to death already but i've always felt those merchants are a drag on the network. And some of the merchants i see listed as temp offline, i think are actually permanently offline. Some threads about it this year:

    Temporarily Offline Merchant
    Temporarily Offline! - 6/13/05
    Merchants Temporarily Offline?
    merchants who have been temporarily offline for a while
    Merchant offline but NOT OFFLINE, links work???
    Offline Merchant Programs
    Dropping Temporarily Offline Merchants
    Merchants Temporarily Offline
    Question about Temporarily Offline.
    Temporarily Offline Merchants
    Last edited by Trust; July 13th, 2005 at 03:01 AM.

  3. #3
    Sinclair Oil Lurker Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrustNo1
    I think the #1 problem which you can see easily by reading the threads in the SAS forum are the temp offline merchants. I know it's been talked to death already but i've always felt those merchants are a drag on the network. And some of the merchants i see listed as temp offline, i think are actually permanently offline.
    yep. the start date is listed, but I think it would be great to see an expire date. is the "low on funds" an indicator, 'cause if it is not I don't know. I stay away from advertisers that have that next to their listings. also, the temporarily offline should be listed when I am searching for advertisers to "join", and not just in the "get links and banners" section. I joined several merchants to find out when going for the links and banners that they were temporarily offline.

    Also, I have noticed you have your share of publishers disguised as merchants. One merchant has a front page with adsense at the top of the fold right smack in the center. For that matter, it is all you see until you scroll down the page. I will go back and search, then pm you with what I found on that, for now I can't remember who the merchant was. don't worry though. you aint the only network with that problem. cj has one big time. I'll have to expose them in a tactful way, too.
    [B][COLOR=Red]I look forward to Google's demise[/COLOR][/B]
    Look who is suing Google - [URL=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google+gets+sued]click here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=google+gets+sued&FORM=MSNH&srch_type=0]here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=google+gets+sued&fr=FP-tab-web-t&toggle=1&cop=&ei=UTF-8]here[/URL]

  4. #4
    Sinclair Oil Lurker Jones's Avatar
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    additional comment concerning suspect publishers disguised as merchants - you got 'em. I was going to try to find the google adsense merchant, but dayum, I don't have all night. you need to do some serious weeding out. one of your "coupon merchants" redirects to coupon genie sponsored ads, and some of your "merchants" are nothing but sponsored ppc ads, at the top of the page.

    you also have all the "merchants" I was warned about concerning parasiteware. I thought you had a zero tolerance for that stuff? That was one of your big deals you made when you first started, and now it is like you have been invaded... I have been out of the picture for a lonnnnnnnnng time, huh? what happened? dern.

    not to be negative, but you did ask. You do have some really good merchants. However!
    Last edited by Lurker Jones; July 13th, 2005 at 03:53 AM. Reason: correction
    [B][COLOR=Red]I look forward to Google's demise[/COLOR][/B]
    Look who is suing Google - [URL=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google+gets+sued]click here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=google+gets+sued&FORM=MSNH&srch_type=0]here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=google+gets+sued&fr=FP-tab-web-t&toggle=1&cop=&ei=UTF-8]here[/URL]

  5. #5
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Okay, you asked for it, here's my list.

    Aff Side:

    The FEED SYSTEM sucks. At CJ I get all my merchants in one big feed that I FTP from them. This is something SAS needs to be able to do. ONE BIG FTP'D FEED! Not individual folders, and not chunklets.

    Level up and lose the warehouse-club look. It's hard to take SAS seriously, when presented with gifs of diners(?!?) (Are you in the FOOD business??) upon logging in. The whole thing screams of "discount."

    REPORTING Time to get a per-time-period breakdown!!

    FINDING NEW MERCHANTS (on the 20-day list) It's too hard to find them. The "featured" ones take up too much room--easy to not realize to scroll down!

    FINDING MERCHANTS in general is a huge pain. The sort feature is missing the most obvious criteria: ALPHABETICALLY, BY NAME! So if there's a place I "kind of" remember the name of, but not well enough to match it for the search box? It's SOL.

    What's with the 20-day New Merchant listing? A month is more logical!

    Merchant side:

    Kill the delays, kill the delays, kill the delays. This can't be repeated enough. I can't imagine that other networks have such things as "manual" feed updating, for instance. AUTOMATE that. SAS is supposed to be a tech company! This should be a "Browse for file-->Upload" operation. And, if there's any big errors, the System should auto-spot that, too. Manual checking should be reserved for the nettlesome errors that a program can't reasonably catch.

    Also it takes too long to get a mass newsletter mailing approved. About a day...sheesh! This also comes back to...Hire More Help. No wonder some AMs want direct contact info. I understand that you have to screen to prevent people from using the SAS system to do spamming or other bads. But the approval time needs to be faster. A couple of hours, tops. It shouldn't take long to see whether something is spam...

    On another note, what's with the 2-word responses to help emails? The extreme terseness is off-putting. If your CS person is so pressed for time that he can't even form a complete sentence--hire more employees. Brevity is one thing...2 word bare-bones responses are taking it too far. An email from SAS shouldn't leave a person feeling like they've just been written to by a machine.

    FTP APPROVAL. See what I said about it from the aff side.

    Affiliate Info screen ("details" page): The part where the aff has put in their other (non main) sites is FUBAR. Usually the "links" go nowhere (literally stated, they lead to http:/// ). Other links have their http:// part doubled. All in all, that link feature is almost totally useless. Only a few have the links actually done right and functional. The rest I've had to copy/paste the text into the browser.

    Also, weirdly enough, they ALL seem to be missing their www parts. I'm sure that many people did NOT refer to themselves as http://example.com instead of http://www.example.com!

    The CATEGORIZATION of merchant sites is too limited. As a "home and garden" related merchant, I'm in with a bunch of furniture sellers, home decor places etc. That's whacked. It needs to be broken down more.

    PERFORMANCE BONUS LEVELS. How about it?! Not individual private commissions. Rather I mean the "Sell $x,xxx, get X% more, Sell $Z,ZZZ, get Z% more, Sell "XX,XXX, get XX% more" across-the-board standard offers I see in CJ all the time.

    That should give you plenty to work on for now!
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  6. #6
    Sinclair Oil Lurker Jones's Avatar
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    dayum, leader wrote a book.
    [B][COLOR=Red]I look forward to Google's demise[/COLOR][/B]
    Look who is suing Google - [URL=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google+gets+sued]click here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=google+gets+sued&FORM=MSNH&srch_type=0]here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=google+gets+sued&fr=FP-tab-web-t&toggle=1&cop=&ei=UTF-8]here[/URL]

  7. #7
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Of course...things haven't changed so much that I'd quit writing long posts!
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  8. #8
    Plazan Merchant Neil's Avatar
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    is the "low on funds" an indicator, 'cause if it is not I don't know. I stay away from advertisers that have that next to their listings
    you need to explain this to affiliates, that low funds is not an indication
    that a merchant has a problem [if on auto deposit].
    Find us at shareasale.com 12% commission
    Shareasale Merchant 7191
    PLAZAN SKIN CARE As seen on TV . Used by Jennifer Lopez

  9. #9
    Sinclair Oil Lurker Jones's Avatar
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    Brian,

    I do want to encourage you with something I just thought about, despite the critical review you receive for web design and site functionality.

    IN THE BEGINNING:

    Shareasale was well liked, and known for the following:

    *on time payments
    *zero tolerance for parasite merchants**
    *You were cost effective

    I don't know how much of that is changed, but stick with those things that characterized your integrity as a good network.

    **note: I don't know if any ofyour "real" merchants are involved with that mess, but you have let all the trash in with the good. the two don't mix. I am referring to, mostly, some of those publishers (affiliates) disguised as "merchants". Some of 'em are bad news, man.
    Last edited by Lurker Jones; July 13th, 2005 at 04:30 AM. Reason: additional comment
    [B][COLOR=Red]I look forward to Google's demise[/COLOR][/B]
    Look who is suing Google - [URL=http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=google+gets+sued]click here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=google+gets+sued&FORM=MSNH&srch_type=0]here[/URL] and [URL=http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=google+gets+sued&fr=FP-tab-web-t&toggle=1&cop=&ei=UTF-8]here[/URL]

  10. #10
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Hi Brian

    From a merchants perspective I would like to see a couple of things :

    1. A system for promoting new merchants beyond the present category, a news feed / RSS / Email that goes out to inform people of what is new. In CJ new clients are top of the category, on LS there is a new merchants newsletter and new merchants are clearly listed on the side bar, KB!/Kolimbo send out a newsletter

    2. A way for merchants to prospect within SAS for partners, something more effective than the CJ and LS internal mail, but less intrusive than a direct email.

    3. Easier access to historical data, right now we get "This Month" and "All" usually the data I need most is "last month"

    4. Combined data feeds, allow affiliates to merge feeds into one file so thet don't have to do multiple downloads

    5. FTP monitor so I can see which affiliates who have requested it are downloading the datafeed and how often

    Cheers

    Chris
    Affiliate Marketing by AMWSO. Skype - chrissanderson ::: TEL 1-720-336-1784 ::: www.amwso.net
    Join our affiliate programs :Vaper Empire, Iolo, Art of Tea, or See ALL our Programs here

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  12. #11
    Not Verif-Lidated infoTim's Avatar
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    I actually like having a single download for each merchant, since I put each of them on a different update schedule and can customize how some of the extra fields are treated.

    The only think I really don't like about SaS is your infrastructure. I often get dropped connections ("document contains no data") logging in and wonder if that ever happens to people clicking through my links too.
    Tim
    consultant by day, affiliate by night

  13. #12
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    I actually like having a single download for each merchant, since I put each of them on a different update schedule and can customize how some of the extra fields are treated.
    But, it'd be nice to have a choice
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  14. #13
    Not Verif-Lidated infoTim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    But, it'd be nice to have a choice

    Oh, absolutely. Just don't get rid of one in favor of the other.
    Tim
    consultant by day, affiliate by night

  15. #14
    ABW Ambassador
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    Brian:

    I manage 4 programs at SAS not including the program currently in my
    signature.
    I have a problem with the quality of affiliates requesting to join.

    I'd like to see 3 membership levels.

    Membership Level - Full
    Membership Level - Limited
    Membership Level - $

    Where Membership Level - $ would tell me that the member had made at least
    $1.00 with at least one merchant during the last 3 months or so.

    As to datafeeds, I understand that some would like a bulk feed.
    There are some who like individual feeds.
    Can the affiliate have the option to have one or the other?

  16. #15
    Super Sh!t Stirrer SSanf's Avatar
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    I am not sure is we had a combined feed if I could open all that in Excel.

    I would like to be able to folow the money better. I had some kind of a reversal of about $3 yesterday and darned if I can figure out where it went.
    Comments are opinion unless otherwise noted. Remember, pillage first. Then burn. Half of all people in the world have IQs under 100. You best learn to trust ol' SSanf!

  17. #16
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Thank you all so far, keep em' coming if you wish - I will respond to each point individually in time and hopefully be able to keep up.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  18. #17
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    And my $.05 worth

    1. I agree with Chris about this, 3. Easier access to historical data, right now we get "This Month" and "All" usually the data I need most is "last month"

    2. As far as the reports, I would like to see under the return day analysis report a way to take out all zero sales. This really throws the curve off.

    3. A way for affiliates to rate themselves (as was discused when the deleteing affiliates came up) somewhere on a curve of 1 to 5 with 1 being a person new to affiliate marketing to 5 being , "I know it all, just pay me". This would help us AM's with our newsletters and how they go out and to whom.

    4. When sending newletters, a way to send the letter to any email address RIGHT AWAY so we can check the letter. As it stands now we need to send it to oursleves, wait a day or more until we get it to then send it out to our affiliates and if we make changes... more wasted time involved.

    That's off the top of my head.
    Last edited by Richard - AMWSO; July 13th, 2005 at 11:13 AM.
    Richard
    Affiliate Marketing Manager AMWSO
    Digestinol, Luxe-Design


    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Pablo Picasso

  19. #18
    Internet Cowboy
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    The 7 and 30 day EPC numbers don't seem to work. I see a lot of merchants with $0 for both, including merchants that I have made sales with in the last 7 day period and 30 day period. If I have made sales with them, as small of a piece of the overall puzzle I might be, they can't have $0 stats.
    When looking for a program to fill a need, 7 and 30 day EPC stats are important to a potential affiliate. If you are using some kind of threshold setting before activating this feature, maybe the threshold should be lowered.


  20. #19
    Outsourced Program Manager
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    Uncle Scotter

    Love seeing Zappa fans!!!
    Richard
    Affiliate Marketing Manager AMWSO
    Digestinol, Luxe-Design


    Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. Pablo Picasso

  21. #20
    Internet Cowboy
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    Quote Originally Posted by UncleScooter
    The 7 and 30 day EPC numbers don't seem to work. I see a lot of merchants with $0 for both, including merchants that I have made sales with in the last 7 day period and 30 day period. If I have made sales with them, as small of a piece of the overall puzzle I might be, they can't have $0 stats.
    When looking for a program to fill a need, 7 and 30 day EPC stats are important to a potential affiliate. If you are using some kind of threshold setting before activating this feature, maybe the threshold should be lowered.
    I am such a DUMMY sometimes
    I was totally looking at the wrong thing. EPC numbers are showing, I just have to look in the RIGHT PLACE!!!!!!!!
    Thanks for the enlightenment Brian
    Richard,
    Loved Zappa. The man was pure creative genius! We'll have to meet at St. Alfonzo's for pancakes someday


  22. #21
    Affiliate Manager
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    I think Leader has some great suggestions, even on parts of ShareASale I haven't reached yet as a merchant.

    One thing that actually might be a real quick improvement...

    On the 'creatives upload' page, could you make the text box (where you type in your description & url destination, etc) bigger? Like maybe set size=50 or larger? It just gets frustrating sometimes.

    Thanks for your attention Brian. Its great that you are working hard to improve and publicly request your problem list. I look forward to great things from our relationship with ShareASale.

    Dave@HomeOfDecor.com
    Affiliate Program Director - www.HomeOfDecor.com - Join our program today!
    Ceiling Fans . Lighting . Fireplace
    Find your statement. Love your home.

  23. #22
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    All points raised will be addressed, however, some will take more time than others. Since I was already working on this one, it was easy to update this one first.

    Regarding merchant newsletters, merchants with a history of quality newsletters will now have their newsletters sent out immediately - bypassing the usual 24 hour wait period for approval. Newsletters will continue to be sent out immediately unless something in the content sent by a specific merchant forces us to put them back on "Manual Approval".

    A "history of quality newsletters" will be defined as having 5 newsletters sent out via the interface that have been approved by ShareASale to be sent.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  24. #23
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    From the top:

    Temporarily Offline issues:

    5 things are being done here...

    1. Merchants, upon activation are being emailed an instruction on auto-deposit and how it can save a program from the pitfalls of "temporarily offline"

    2. We are, for merchant programs that have a history with us, extending small amount of credit to their account - to ease the trouble associated with a large sale, or big weekend of sales, etc... This credit is extended by ShareASale and does not affect your earnings on those commissions. If a commission is captured, and recorded in your account - that money will be paid to you regardless of whether or not the merchant pays up on their credit balance. These credit decisions will be made on a per merchant basis - but as an affiliate, the important test will be as follows... if your link goes through to the merchant page it means that links are still active, and sales are still tracking. Note to merchants, Auto-Deposit merchants will be the first to which we review and extend credit.

    3. An RSS feed will be established within the next couple of days, the address of that RSS feed will be posted here. When a merchant changes status, that RSS feed will be posted to, and you should be able to immediately receive notification of an offline/online status change. A list of RSS readers is available from within your account - check out the "Deals Database", and another list is available on our blog. If you are not familiar with RSS, this will be a perfect time for you to learn It is extremely simple, and a great way to address the notification problem as it allows affiliates to opt-in and receive those notes as they wish. RSS feeds for example, can be added to things like "My Yahoo", or "My MSN" etc... places where people tend to visit a lot.

    4. We will ad to the current locations where this information is displayed, an additional distinction of "on credit" as opposed to "offline".

    5. Offline merchants that have been there a while are going to be removed. I realize this sounds easy and simple yet some merchant have come back from long times absent and restarted, this will no longer be accepted as practice.
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

  25. #24
    More Cheesier Than Ever Cheesehead's Avatar
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    Yes, temporarily offline is a real drag. If nothing else, could you do the following:
    1. Do an automatic redirect to merchant's homepage in case they go offline - I won't get a commission but at least my site's reputation is not tarnished.
    2. Also set is up so we get an email notification of offline merchants.
    This World is Not My Home
    We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. . . And then we're gonna go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline! Quotes from the movie Rudy, 1993

  26. #25
    ShareASale President/CEO and ABW Veteran Brian - ShareASale's Avatar
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    Cheesehead,

    An automatic redirect is available now in your account which can send the visitor back to your site to either a)explain the offline situation to your customer or b) you can choose to send them to the merchant site if you wish.

    We won't be using email - instead utilizing RSS as it is much cleaner and does not involve the emailing of thousands of users at a time which just creates problems such as spam filters, returned mail, bad email addresses, etc...
    Thanks,

    Brian Littleton
    President/CEO - ShareASale.com, Inc.

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