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  1. #1
    Member jrb16915's Avatar
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    When will Synergy analytics completely replace the old reports.
    Linkshare Moderator (Kelli) has made a couple of post making reference to 'tics becoming the only source of information from Linkshare. Does anyone know if there is a target date for the change over? Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Originally, they were planning on removing the old reports 3 months after the release of Synergy Analytics. They extended that a couple months ago, but they aren't giving the date publicly. Let's just say it's coming up very quickly.

    I've been very vocal about them extending it even further, and I know Kelli has been pushing an extension internally, but my perception from the outside is that either 1) there's strong opposition internally, and/or 2) they have technical reasons to no longer support the old reporting, and/or 3) they feel like keeping the old reporting is admitting that there's a problem with Synergy Analytics.

    In my opinion, the old reporting should be maintained until at least 3 months after all of this has happened:

    1) They upgrade Synergy Analytics to support more browsers, particularly FireFox and at least one Mac browser.

    2) The new reports provide everything that the old reports provided.

    3) They streamline the interface so that information can be found as easily as with the old reports.

    4) Redundency, load balancing, and reliability are greatly improved.

    5) There is widespread acceptance from affiliates.

    P.S. I've split this out into it's own thread.
    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

  3. #3
    Internet Cowboy
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    I hope this never happens. SA is too cumbersome and bulky.
    LS removing the old reports will likely lead to me moving some campaigns to other (non LS) merchants.


  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    We will eventually retire our old reporting system but do not yet have a firm date. There is no hidden agenda behind our decision to retire the old system. It's not about internal opposition or SA perceptions. The old system has to be retired for the simple fact that it's old and has reached the end of its lifecycle. It can no longer support the needs of our Network as a whole. There are many customers (merchants and affiliates) who have definitely outgrown the old system's capacity and capabilities. And, with SynergyAnalytics, we've invested significant time and dollars in a much more scalable, flexible platform (although you may not see all of the benefits yet). Keeping both systems running indefinitely is not an option.

    That being said, we've identified a number of things that we want and need to address with SA prior to retiring the old system. Michael, your list captures many of them. Because of the old system's constraints, I can't promise we'll get to everything before the old system comes down but we're working hard to do as much as possible.

    One piece of good news- It does appear that our 3rd party provider is releasing a new version to support other browsers. It still needs to be tested and I don't have an ETA but I've been told this issue will be addressed.

    As I know more, I'll continue to share it with you.

    Kelli

  5. #5
    Member jrb16915's Avatar
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    An example please.
    Kelli,

    Would it be possible to give a real life example of an affiliate (specific names are not needed) who "outgrew" the old reporting. It would be helpful to know what the old reporting system didn't provide, and how 'tics is (or will be) providing the answer. Also are there any examples where the new reporting is faster to access than the old reporting?

    Even with all the problems with new system Linkshare personnel seem committed to the idea that it is somehow how a dramatically better system. I consider myself forward thinking and would love for 'tics to be better, but I just haven't seen it so far. Some REAL LIFE examples of reports that have helped affiliates make more money, or speed up the time that it takes them to analyse there results would be encouraging.

    While I understand why it is difficult to give a firm date on the switchover, could you possible give a list of milestones similar to Michaels suggestion that Linkshare wants to accomplish before abandoning the old reports.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    PS to Michael. There are too many stickys in this thread. You might want to remove some of the ones that haven't had updates for several months.

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    jrb16915,

    The biggest issues with the old reporting system are two-fold:
    1-Capacity: Many of our larger merchants have difficulty running old transaction reports because they have such massive amounts of data. For example, some struggle running a Sales & Activity for small periods of time (1 day, 1 week) much less for longer periods. Others can't generate a Link Type report for 1 day. It's not quite as bad for the larger affiliates but some do have similar challenges. We've outgrown the old system platform.

    2-Functionality: Because of the massive amounts of data that many merchants and some affiliates are trying to analyze, the old reports are cumbersome when it comes to doing any meaningful (or sometimes basic) analysis. For example, if an affiliate (or merchant) really wanted to do a trend analysis (MOM, YOY), they'd need to run several S&A or revenue reports, download them, and then generate the calculations or graphs. The most simple of examples but still unnecessary and something a system can easily automate for you.

    In this thread: http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=62055 , I talked about how the Program Trend Analysis graph can help do this type of work for you. I also talked about different ways of comparing the data (daily trends/forecasts, MOM, YOY, etc.) that we're hoping to incorporate in the next round of changes to SA.

    The reality right now is that most affiliates are using old reporting, the Traditional reports in SA and the payment reports. We're working on some redesigns to the Transaction Analysis tab, which will be followed by some form of a training resource for affiliates, so that adoption grows.

    Our focus going forward is to take the feedback we've received and translate it into changes that will make SA a robust (and easy to use) tool for affiliates. I can't post the milestones right now because I dont' have confirmation of how many of them we can accomplish prior to bringing down the old reporting system. All of Michael's suggestions are on the list plus a few others. As I have timelines I can share, I absolutely will.

    Kelli

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I know the old reports work wonderfully for those of us with 50,000 or fewer transactions per month, but the really big affiliates (and probably a fourth to a half of the merchants) see tremendous delays and timeouts trying to run reports on the old reporting. I know I've talked to some LinkShare merchants who needed to pull stats that told me "I'll schedule that to run and will call you tomorrow when I have the results."
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
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  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    But are things any faster with the new reporting. I mean, once you get past those annoying rotating arrows.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    Yes, for the larger merchants and affiliates that I mentioned and Michael touched upon, transaction reports run much faster. There are times, while the system is still in beta, when we're performing maintenance or loading data which slows performance. We're working toward more memory upgrades and, once that is done, will put the redundant system in place. These changes will provide more consistent and improved performance. However, when the system is operating normally, the speed is improved. I can personally vouch for that as a former user of the old transaction reports and current user of SA.

    Kelli

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I am curious why LS chose a third party company to provide this service. They seem pretty limiting and slow to make any changes. Is it really that much less expensive and pratical to use an outside vender to run your stats software than to do it in-house where you have total control?
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    Ron,
    LinkShare is in the business of developing affiliate network technology and services, not database software. When we made a decision a few years ago to invest in a new analytics system, we chose one of the best providers out there whose core competency was providing db software. Speaking from personal past experience with other companies (very large and small), this is not unusual.

    At the time we selected our provider, we did a study of the browsers that our users were using to access our interface and 98%+ of them were using IE. Our own study was consistent with the overall browser market at the time. When we made our decision, we based it on the facts we had at the time - the overwhelming majority of our users and the browser market in general were using IE as their primary browser. Since then, the facts have changed. Firefox is now widely accepted and this is an exciting trend that has materialized very quickly over the last 6 months or so.

    So, we like everyone including our vendor are working to address this recent trend. Software development takes time and our vendor has responded quickly stating, as I posted yesterday (I think?), they are releasing a new version that is compatible with other browsers and which we will be testing shortly. In the meantime, while everyone has a personal preference regarding which browser they use, IE is readily available to everyone at no cost.

    To address your question about control.....
    While the software provider has given us the core tools to build around, we have control over the development. There is a key difference between using an application and doing development on top of that application. While their core functionality does have underlying limitations (as with all sw apps), overall we are working with one of the leading providers in the market. As their technology gets better, we can continue to build even more tools on top of their application.

    Kelli

  12. #12
    Member jrb16915's Avatar
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    Kudos to Kelli
    Kudos to Kelli for having the broad shoulders to put up with all of our whining.

    I think a lot of trouble could have been saved though, if in the beginning someone had just said "we need to change things so that we can properly serve our merchants. We will try to minimize the disruptions to affiliates, but in general we have no choice and the affiliates will need to adjust". This seems to have been the case with both the registration/verification debacle and the synergy analytics rollout. Personally I would not have been offended if the reasons had been been clearly explained upfront.

    But for the last several months it seems like Linkshare has been insisting that the new platform is going to be better (I think at one time linkshare said it would "revolutionize" reporting for affiliates) for most if not all affiliates. We have wasted a lot energy telling Linkshare please don't spend your energy trying to fix whats not broken. Its not doing us any favors.

    Now that I understand that the driving force is the merchants not the affiliates it makes more sense. I for one will suck it up and not post anymore complaints about the deficiencies of the system.

    I reserve the right to complain though whenever Linkshare insists that SA is being pushed primarily to benefit the average affilate.

    Having said that, speaking as one tiny affiliate, I will continue to contact merchants and let them know which networks serve the Affilate side of the business best. Currently that is not Linkshare. I think Linkshare should consider that other affilates may do the same. Maybe they don't. I really don't know.

    Good luck. I am rooting for synergy Analytics, verification, consolidated payments and direct deposit to get well soon. I may even join the Save LinkShare Foundation.

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Kelli,

    Thank you for the qualitative answer. It explains a lot.

    I used to work in a management position in a hospital years ago where we were locked into a third party software for our computer system that we used for ordering lab, xrays, admit patients, etc. We also used that system to get results. It worked for a few years until a time came when we need to expand past the point that the third party was able to provide changes in any kind of timely manner. And pretty soon the requested changes, patches, addons or whatever you call them got so complicated and hard to implement into there system that even they could not do them any more. It was costly and it failed eventually. I sincerely hope your company is not locked into a system that does not allow you to quickly change and grow. Third party software companies claim a lot of things in the beginning but as time goes along and you are so integrated into their systems is is like cutting off one of your limbs to break away and change. I'm not sure what CJ has in place but they seem to be much more in control of it and can quickly fix or modify it. Somehow I don't get that same feeling with LS.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  14. #14
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Here are some updates on this from the LinkShare Summit this week:

    1) Many of the essential missing things (not rounding to the nearest dollar, missing reports, etc.) from the old reports are currently being added to Synergy Analytics. (Some have already been added in the past few weeks.) They're releasing these a piece at a time rather than doing a big release.

    2) They're adding a redundant datacenter for Synergy Analytics, and will remove it from Beta once that's in place.

    3) Once all of the essential functionality from the old reports is added to Synergy Analytics, they will be removing most of the old reports. This will happen this quarter.

    4) Signature (u1/Member Id) reporting will remain in the old reports at first.

    5) Additional functionality to make Synergy Analytics more functional and faster to use will not come until after the old reports are gone.
    Michael Coley
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     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

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I still stand by my last post above. I've talked to LS employess and know what I know. LS has outsourced themselves without proper control and ability to quickly change (which is most evident now that we are in the 13 month of Synergy Analytics beta.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

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