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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    Exclamation Merchant Datafeeds.. WHY???
    OK this is ridiculous...

    I have seen a lot of datafeeds in the last two weeks....
    90% of them are CRAP..!!

    It is one thing to have all products in a database..
    it is another to have them all in a database that anyone can use!

    here is one thing I noticed..

    There are no Category Subcategory Groups..
    so they have 400 products all under "Mens Clothing"
    Or 500 Products all under "Kids Shoes"

    It sucks..

    Merchants need to realize that in order for anyone to use the feed it takes at least two categories.. otherwise you get 500 products in ONE BIG JUMBLED category...

    Anyone else see this type of thing and just DELETE The database??

    I won't take the time to go through 500 - 1000 products and decifer what other categories there need to be..??

    Just wondering what the merchants are thinking when they put out their datafeeds..? Most of them have no idea HOW WE USE THEM.. or have no idea what a DATABASE is supposed to look like..

    So it actually serves no purpose at all... it's just a file with garbage in it..




    I understand that a lot of fellow affiliates do not want these databases being used by anyone else.. and that is FINE..

    BUT - A well organized database is A LOT EASIER to make original by tweaking certain areas... BUT - it MUST BE WELL ORGANIZED in order to easily make it original..

    Sheeeeesh.. some peoples kids...


  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AddHandler
    Anyone else see this type of thing and just DELETE The database??
    Yup! That's one of the things I look for when reviewing someone's feed for the first time. Some databases with poor structures can be modified by some form of extrapolation, but the ones that require significant work just to be usable get ignored (by me). There are so many feeds around these days, prioritizing is a must (for me anyway).

    Fred

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    I was poking around earlier in one today that looked quite well done. I'll see if I can hunt it down.

  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Sometimes you might want to work with one of these datafeeds because nobody else is using it. Keep in mind that the nice datafeeds are more common and much more competitive. If you can do some effective price comparison, you don't even need categories as long as just one datafeed has a category for the product. There are ways to categorize by brand, product name and description. Also, don't forget products don't need to be categorized to be searchable and cross listed with categorized products.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    Snib - yea I know.. but a well organized feed makes for better targeted traffic to the merchant = more sales.. and if you already have your site up and running and in "categorized listings" with great SERP, then it's really hard to work in another feed..

    I use the feeds that are well organized because it is easier for me to add links, change category names, add more content, and manipulate the content within the datafeed to make it original.. I don't care if a million people are using the same "original" feed - when I get done with MINE -- it is ONE OF A KIND...

    That is why I am complaining here.. merchants not only need to organize their feeds but affiliates need to learn how to manipulate the data instead of using it right out of the box.. If all feeds were well organized and affiliates learned to manipulate the data in Excel or other programs.. then every feed would be unique..

    But unless you use a "comparision" or "search" most of the feeds I have been TRYING to work with are 100% garbage... (unless I took a week to categorize 10,000 products) I have heard that comparison sites do well.. but I wouldn't want to be dependant on people "searching" my site for products.. I like to "cram" the products down their throats - in a nice way of course.. so if they are on my site and even think of a product name - "there it is"..

    In the end merchants that simply think a huge database of products and links are going to actually get used or SELL anything are sadly mistaken..

  6. #6
    The Beer Hunter LearnAbout's Avatar
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    With most merchants you have to sign up first before you are able to take a look at their feed. Once I see that the feed is not usable than I drop the merchant right away, but it would be a lot easier (and faster) if the feed would be available for inspection before sign-up.

    I am currently working with an indy merchant, who only offers banners, to prepare a feed just for me. They have their 700+ items well organized on their site, but it turns out to be quite difficult to put this into a simple Excel file, with category and subcategory. I don't know how they handle it on their site, I guess via php. Is it really that difficult to exctract it into something like cvs?

    I'm probably too simplistic, but if a merchant's site is well organized it should be quite straight forward to make a decent feed out of that.

    Frank
    [URL=http://www.golfbeginnerguide.com/]Golf Beginner Guide[/URL] ; [URL=http://www.ladygolfersguide.com/]Lady Golfers Guide[/URL]

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LearnAbout
    I am currently working with an indy merchant, who only offers banners, to prepare a feed just for me. They have their 700+ items well organized on their site, but it turns out to be quite difficult to put this into a simple Excel file, with category and subcategory. I don't know how they handle it on their site, I guess via php. Is it really that difficult to exctract it into something like cvs?

    I'm probably too simplistic, but if a merchant's site is well organized it should be quite straight forward to make a decent feed out of that.

    Frank
    It's not trivial. It takes some pretty clever programming to put category information into a datafeed. The other information isn't so difficult as it's a basic dump from their product database.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  8. #8
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LearnAbout
    With most merchants you have to sign up first before you are able to take a look at their feed.
    You can scope out a lot by using the tool GoldenCAN / Asif created:
    http://www.goldencan.com/help/FindMerchants.aspx

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snib
    Sometimes you might want to work with one of these datafeeds because nobody else is using it.
    - Scott
    Shhhhhhh....!

  10. #10
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Might be an idea to mention some of them so that we can get them to fix the feeds.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  11. #11
    Affiliate/AM Moonlighter dflsports's Avatar
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    I have had access to datafeeds for a few years now and you're right, most are horrible. A lot of the stores have only a few in house programmers that are usually too busy to create a good datafeed or they use some ecommerce software and administer the site themselves and the data exports stink.

    Affiliates want datafeeds and unfortunately most of the small guys just can't afford to get nice clean feed made for them. I know one indy store that told me that it cost him $1,000 just to get me a personalized datafeed (of course he was gettign totally ripped off).

    Guys like Snib have a hand up on the average datafeed user because they can take their programming skills and scrub the data.

    I'd have to say if your just getting into datafeeds, it's probably a waste of time unless you already get high traffic volume or your using the data "on the fly". Just my opinion of course

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    I wonder if we came up with a couple of standard file formats we could ask all new merchants to do them in that format. We could also write converters for any existing (and popular) stores.

    Thoughts?

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick24601
    I wonder if we came up with a couple of standard file formats we could ask all new merchants to do them in that format.
    We've been down this road before, and I think most have settled on "pipe."

    Having said that, Haiko asks a good question - why not list the ones that need to work on their feeds, and give a brief explanation why? If just a couple of feeds get cleaned up, that's more money for all involved.

    Fred

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    LearnAbout - I agree.. I never understood why merchants think their feed is some kind of TOP SECRET program.. why they think that they need to give out an FTP Username and Password for a simple pipe delimited text file is beyond me..

    I like the merchants that just have an URL to get their feed without a username and password.. there is NOTHING in the feed that is not in PLAIN sight on the merchants website.. so there is no reason to think that the FEED itself is some kind of top secret proprietary information..

    That is like McDonalds telling new employees the MENU is TOP SECRET...

    SHOW ME THE FEED... and then I'll Show You The Money...

  15. #15
    MasterMike HardwareGeek's Avatar
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    yes delete them please do not use them at all.

  16. #16
    ABW Founder Haiko de Poel, Jr.'s Avatar
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    I'll take it a step further ... we all together come up with an Affiliate friendly feed format (demanding it be the de-facto standard). All members who participate in molding this feed structure will get an ABW 4.0 Tshirt - still being designed but will be released soon. Once again parasitic merchants need not apply - So sorry Mr. Parks, neither your Vote Pedro Shirt nor ABW 4.0 shirt are and will NOT be in the mail.
    Continued Success,

    Haiko
    The secret of success is constancy of purpose ~ Disraeli

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    OK. It sounds like we have the start of criteria to judge all of the rest by. We can start this into a list. I'll put this up on website in a table on my site if I have to.

    Good
    -----
    Available as a link with no human intervention needed
    CSV/PIPE delimited format
    Non-Password protected
    Categorized
    Provides a 2nd table with categories for the xref

    Bad
    ----
    Password Protected

  18. #18
    Crazy like a fox suzigeek's Avatar
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    Scrape the info from the merchants site. There are some programs that have a bit of a learning curve and are VERY pricey that will scrape and dump the info into an excel file. A bit of work though--shouldn't have to do that...
    Suz~~GearGirl~~

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Greg Rice's Avatar
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    Consistant format. One of my biggest pet peeves are merchants who change the names of categories, sometimes each week. Categories should be defined before the feed is available and not changed unless there's a major reason to do so. "Men's Accessories" should always be "Men's Accessories" and not Men Accessories one week, Men's Access. the next week.
    Greg Rice Affiliate Program Management
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  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    If they just provided the categories in a seperate feed then the names would not matter. If your datafeed is going to into a database I'd think that keeping the categories (along with any other data that is replicated over and over again) in a different feed would be very desirable. I've been designing databases for years and that is right up there in the top of the best practices - normalization.

    Now if you are just turning the datafeed into HTML then I am not sure different tables are warranted.

  21. #21
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Feeds also need to have both a long and a short discription in them.

    Also when you list categories, or whatever, don't put barbie/dolls. That / creates a new folder every time in some page building programs. Put barbie - dolls instead, or whatever, but not barbie/dolls.

    Do not use a / in your fields or anywhere else.

    When you try to do a find - replace in the feed to remove the / it also removes the / in the url's and then the links don't work.

    Another problem is spaces between the lines in the discription. All the time I find anywhere from 1-15 spaces between lines of text in the description. If you are making a feed for affiliates to use - Do it right.

    Another thing that is annoying is when a feed has an (TM) - (R) - (C) - or the symbols for these - it seems like after every other word in the feed. They make your page look like crap and are not necessary. We are not going to try to steal anything from you and our customers could care less if you have registered your product or whatever.

    Another thing you can find all of the time in feeds is mis-spelled words. Hire someone that knows how to spell to work on your feeds or teach them how to use the spell checker that is on the computer.

    Don't put new paragraph - etc html code - javascript - or anything else in the description. All you usually get is the html printed in the description - not the new paragraph or whatever you hoped to get when you put html in the description.

    I guess most of us could write a book about what's wrong with most feeds we get - but we'll save that for another time.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    OK...
    ------------------------
    Product Datafeeds Should Contain::

    Product Item#
    Product Name
    Product Description
    Product Short Description
    Product Category
    Product Subcategory
    Product Group - "If Applicable"
    Product ThumbUrl
    Product ImageUrl
    Product BuyLink
    Product Keywords
    Product Reviews - "If Applicable"

    ---------------------


    IF ALL FEEDS HAD THESE... and they were well organized..
    It would be MUCH easier for affiliates to make each feed original...

    If I missed anything... add to that LIST...!!

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    BurgerBoy - I have a lot of feeds that have the "/" in them...

    Do a simple FIND AND REPLACE.. to get rid of them..
    ONLY CHOOSE THE COLUMN THEY ARE IN.. The find and replace will only find and replace in the column that is highlighted.. it will leave the URLS alone...

    That is what I DO... I also get rid of the " or ' in the wording...

    BUT - I make a copy of the original column that contains the " and ' in order to use that for the WORDS not the URLS for my inner linking...

    You can also select a column and spell check that column only - if you want...

    It works out great..
    It does require a little more work on my part - but I spend at least a couple of hours on each feed adding more data, replacing words, renaming categories and stuff to make my feed a ONE OF A KIND FEED...

    If you want to use a feed right out of the box.. that is part of the problem of FEEDS not being as profitable for everyone...

    I would share other tips but.. then everyone's feed would look like mine..

  24. #24
    Moderator BurgerBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AddHandler
    OK...
    ------------------------
    Product Datafeeds Should Contain::

    Product Item#
    Product Name
    Product Description
    Product Short Description
    Product Category
    Product Subcategory
    Product Group - "If Applicable"
    Product ThumbUrl
    Product ImageUrl
    Product BuyLink
    Product Keywords
    Product Reviews - "If Applicable"

    ---------------------


    IF ALL FEEDS HAD THESE... and they were well organized..
    It would be MUCH easier for affiliates to make each feed original...

    If I missed anything... add to that LIST...!!
    You could add Product Manafacturer to the list for customers that want to find products for a certain manafacturer.

    And - Please make sure that all of the links for images and buy url and etc that are in your feed work.

    Vietnam Veteran 1966-1970 USASA
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  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador AddHandler's Avatar
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    So now it is


    Product Item#
    Product Brand or Manufacturer..
    Product Name
    Product Description
    Product Short Description
    Product Category
    Product Subcategory
    Product Group - "If Applicable"
    Product ThumbUrl
    Product ImageUrl
    Product BuyLink
    Product Keywords
    Product Reviews - "If Applicable"

    COOL.... I did forget that one...

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