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  1. #1
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    Red face Request for Innovation in 2006
    I find that CJ has not evolved for a long time, no new features etc have been put in place.

    I'm sure many companies don't like to change things when they are doing well, profits high and lots of business to keep shareholders happy. The sad thing is when a company is in its comfort zone then we won't see many changes, if any. Anyway I would really like to see some innovative features added to CJ early 2006 and below is what I would like to see:

    Ability to select non promotional links. At the moment I can select "All Promotional Text Links" which is great as I can select all the promotions in one go but what if I want to grab all the others for another lot?

    Coupon Database - I would like to see a similar feature like ShareASale's Coupon database which is the best one available. This allows affiliates to download a csv file regularly which contains all the coupons from all the merchants they belong to. This keeps content fresh & up to date and can mean many more sales for the merchants plus much faster processing for the affiliate. For instance I can do in 2 minutes on ShareASale what it would take me 2+ days to do on CJ. Merchants should support this if they want fresh content shown and many more sales.

    Well there is more and I will add to this thread as they come to mind.

    Any other innovative ideas welcome.

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    Please, please, please.... whatever you do, DO NOT request that CJ upgrade. I don't think we've fully recovered from the last time they did that.
    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
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  3. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glinted
    Coupon Database - I would like to see a similar feature like ShareASale's Coupon database which is the best one available. This allows affiliates to download a csv file regularly which contains all the coupons from all the merchants they belong to. This keeps content fresh & up to date and can mean many more sales for the merchants plus much faster processing for the affiliate. For instance I can do in 2 minutes on ShareASale what it would take me 2+ days to do on CJ. Merchants should support this if they want fresh content shown and many more sales.
    Great suggestion! I've mentioned this to my account manager several times, too. I also mentioned it to several people at LinkShare this week at the LinkShare Summit.

    Another network that has a very good coupon database is BeFree. They don't have a datafeed for it, but the quality of offers is very good. Sadly, BeFree appears to have been abandoned by CJ.

    CJ did start a "beta" "coupon database", but it's useless. It's basically just a blog, and it has inaccurate, incomplete information and isn't updated on a timely basis. I check it every few days, but have never found anything that I didn't already have listed for the merchants I work with.

    Several things that a good network coupon database must have:

    1) It must have a real-time datafeed. CJ currently has a "promotional datafeed" that lets you download all links flagged as promotional, but you can only get it WEEKLY. It's ful of garbage, anyway.

    2) It needs to be separate from the normal links and more structured, so merchants will use it properly. The current CJ "promotional" links are full of garbage.

    3) It needs to have certain fields:

    Id: A unique ID (generated by the network) lets us match things up with promotions we've already processed.
    Type of Promotion: Dollar Off Coupon, Percent Off Coupon, Shipping Offer, Rebate, Sale, Sweepstakes, etc. These should be fixed options for the merchant to select.
    Coupon Code (optional): If the promotion is a coupon, we need the code.
    Start Date (optional): If it's not already active, we need to know when it'll be activated. A time and time zone might also be helpful for some bargains.
    End Date: This should be required, but there should also be options for bargains with no expiration date or bargains with an unknown expiration date.
    Title: A brief description of the bargain.
    Description: A more complete description (if necessary) with restrictions, additional requirements, fine print, etc.
    Link: The network should encourage the merchant to link to the most appropriate page, not jut the home page.
    Notes To Affiliates (optional): Many merchants put notes in the description fields, so adding a separate notes field should help. All other text should be oriented towards consumers.
    Multiple Banners: One problem with the BeFree system is that merchants will add the same promotion in several times, once for each banner they have available for it. If they could assign multiple banners to one promotion, they wouldn't need to enter the same promotion multiple times.

    4) Merchants need to be encouraged to use it, by the network and by affiliates.

    5) The coupon database populated by merchants could be used in a couple ways. For power affiliates, we might prefer a datafeed. For other affiliates, it might be useful to have an option to insert Javascript code on their site and have it automatically display the latest promotions for a specific merchant.
    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

  4. #4
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    Hi MichaelColey, I'm glad to hear of your enthusiasm with this and I hope CJ & Linkshare listen.

    All your suggestions are great although I would like to have it as text links only and no banners although they could make another option for users that like using banners.

    The ShareASale coupon datafeed is quite small, only a few hundred kbs and works well, easy to download and run scripts with, Other networks should use it as a benchmark on how to do it. I helped them develop the Quick download option of all merchants.

    I'm all for options like offering an alternative as Javascript although I would not use that as I want content that the SEO's find and this should be the first priority but as an alternative then that's fine.

    Keep pressuring the Networks and letting them know of our ideas and just maybe they will listen to us, fingers crossed.

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager 1av8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glinted

    [snip]

    Any other innovative ideas welcome.
    Well, you've absolutely hit on things that have been driving me insane for months now. The legacy networks are evolving their platforms as if the world has stood still since inception, yet two major events have happened -- CAN SPAM and search. Not to mention that people really don't need websites to sell product anymore.

    I need better feedback from paid search to refine our PPC affiliate channel. Web analytics are one thing, but search analytics are another. Since the bulk of the best performers in CJ are PPC affiliates, then it should be top priority (if it's not already).

    Specifically, requests from affiliates who signed up for G's analytics, asking us to embed their tracking throughout our online app are starting to trickle in. Our Eng could do it, but we need something practical from the networks. Monitoring brand and trademark terms bidding would be the natural extension of the analytics piece.

    Managing the email marketing channel more effectively. Suppression list management is the major concern 'cause we just can't send ours out willy nilly (btw, unsub central is very promising looking). Tracking of basic email stats on a per affiliate basis would help too.

    How about a rating system for seasonal programs. Other than the 7 day EPC, we suffer from lagging indicators and by the time the 3 month EPC is indicative of our results, our game is over!

    Managing thousands of affiliates and dozens of applications daily becomes very time consuming, so I think that there are ways to make that more effective too.

    Anyway, my list goes on and on, but I need to go fix something right now.

  6. #6
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glinted
    All your suggestions are great although I would like to have it as text links only and no banners although they could make another option for users that like using banners.
    Text links is all I would use, too, but often the merchant wants to include banners. When they do, I would rather see all the banners tied to the specific promotion rather than duplicating the promotion for each banner. That's my only point with that.
    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

  7. #7
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    The lack of new features is troublesome. I've always worried that affiliate marketing has never been the primary concern of Valueclick. Not seeing any innovation in the affiliate interface makes me wonder if they've stopped development.

    Quote Originally Posted by glinted
    I would like to see a similar feature like ShareASale's Coupon database which is the best one available.
    Personally, I liked the BeFree Coupon Database.

    Of course, CJ wouldn't be able to just copy the BeFree copy the BeFree database ... it's not like they owned BeFree or anything.

  8. #8
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    From what I have seen of the BeFree coupon database is that you access this from the "MERCHANT PROMOTIONS" link on home page. Well thats too slow as you have to select each link individually, you then have to grab the code. Even CJ at least lets you select multiple links from up to 200 so you can grab all the codes on one page but still a slow manual process, much slower than ShareASale where you just click "View all available Coupons" . You then click through 2 times and can then download the complete text file which gives you hundreds of all the current coupons in the database. this takes seconds rather than days or even weeks with the current way you have to find them with other networks. The trouble with CJ is that you have no date selection for links and coupons are extremely difficult to track if there is no way of selecting offers that don't carry a date selection in the link options. This is why a proper coupon database needs to be available considering all these things...

    BeFree does have some good options when you go to the "Search Links" page like what type of offer you would like to find i.e Free Shipping offers plus the selection for 7 days or whatever. But again you can't select multiple links and is way too slow to have to select one at a time unless you only need a few links. I'm hosting near 1000 merchants so the current systems offered other than ShareASale's don't allow for bulk processing.

    GoldenCan does offset the other networks incapabilities some what in that a few merchants have GoldenCan implemented which is slow to load on pages unfortunately and the other issue with that is its not showing the content to SEO's so SAS still come out on top.
    Last edited by glittered; January 30th, 2006 at 11:42 PM.

  9. #9
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    It would be a relatively minor enhancement for BeFree to make a "feed" available. I made that suggestion back when they first introduced the Offer Management System and they were planning on doing it, but then they got acquired by CJ and everything got put on hold.

    I know that there are several of us who have built programs to log in and "scrape" the offers. It's not pretty, but it works.
    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

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelColey
    It would be a relatively minor enhancement for BeFree to make a "feed" available. I made that suggestion back when they first introduced the Offer Management System and they were planning on doing it, but then they got acquired by CJ and everything got put on hold.

    I know that there are several of us who have built programs to log in and "scrape" the offers. It's not pretty, but it works.
    Yes it woulld be great if they could, maybe they will listen?

    Well if anyone has a program that can do that then please let me know and I would be willing to pay for it or offer some programs I have in exchange.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by glinted
    I find that CJ has not evolved for a long time, no new features etc have been put in place.

    I'm sure many companies don't like to change things when they are doing well, profits high and lots of business to keep shareholders happy. The sad thing is when a company is in its comfort zone then we won't see many changes, if any. Anyway I would really like to see some innovative features added to CJ early 2006 and below is what I would like to see:
    Any other innovative ideas welcome.
    you don't know what you're asking for. another upgrade and this ship could sink.

    i'd rather they put more emphasis on current conversion. like making their reporting more accurate with sales being reported in their proper affiliate accounts, and making transactions more trackable. the last one i'm referring to detecting and defeating the current parasite technology that's replacing our codes. i'm aware that they are booting off rogue affiliates, but if the technology are still out there, not only are the rogue affiliates not earning anything but we are not earning anything too.

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