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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Merchants Considering CJ: PLEASE READ
    A recent incident where a merchant dropped their dual program at another network to go solely to CJ made me realize we need to be doing a better job of educating merchants regarding the current state of affairs with CJ. And as that incident was posted in another network forum and probably not easily found by merchants considering signing up for CJ, I thought it best to publish this post in the CJ forum. This post is long enough without bogging it down with lots of links, but if anyone wants to reference other posts to help document current issues, I encourge it.

    If you are a merchant considering starting a new affiliate program at CJ or moving your program to CJ, you need to do your homework first to make an educated decision. Just briefly, what you need to know is that CJ was bought out last year by a company called ValueClick. CJ, once the leader in affiliate marketing, took a nose dive in the eyes of affiliates and some merchants when VC decided a couple months ago to change CJ’s long proven business model. I speak primarily about the implementation of the Link Management Initiative (LMI). The primary objection by affiliates and merchants with LMI is the complete removal of all legacy (HTML) type affiliate links which are to be replaced with JavaScript links (JS), which has documented problems and shortcomings. Although VC has admitted to its shareholders that there is much objection to this change, they seem to think it will all blow over in a year or two and are not acting rationally. Many of us suspect there is some ulterior motive for this change ant that VC is thinking of it's own profit, not that of it's merchants and affiliates.

    If you take the time to read the many posts on this subject here at ABW in the CJ forum you, view the current 400+ comments and signatures on the petition, you will see that both Affiliates and Merchants (CJ calls them Publishers and Advertisers) are not at all happy by this move. Ebay was very quick to announce they would not be changing over to JS, but much smaller companies generating less revenue are unable to get CJ to let them retain their long standing, profitable legacy links.

    It is believed that there is a current move by both affiliates and merchants to move away from CJ (some are calling it an exodus due to the high numbers) and many merchants are opening dual programs at other networks or setting up independent programs for their existing affiliates to keep their current affiliates from leaving. Affiliates are very vocal, but if you are wondering why merchants are less so, there are several reasons. First, merchants don’t like to post negative things about their program in an open forum as they don't wan't anything to keep new affiliates form signing up. Much of what we are hearing from merchants is by word of mouth, private emails and phone conversations. Second, if a merchant moves from CJ or opens a dual program at another network and tries to recruit their existing affiliates, there are severe penalties by CJ.

    You should realize that affiliates have no union, no organized body to represent them to the networks. However, in the many years I have been doing affiliate marketing I have never seen such a large group of affiliates and merchants come together over one single cause. All we have been asking is that CJ leave the legacy links as the default and make JS the option. But CJ and VC refuses. In a recent response from CJ support to an affiliate the CJ person said, “The extra step for obtaining the Legacy Links will still be required. We have the required extra steps to encourage publishers to use more JavaScript.” What this is really saying is we are making things difficult for our existing publishers, creating more work, to discourage them from using legacy links. This is the current mindset of CJ and it is, frankly, quite worrisome to most of us. And the fact is, there are many problems documented here with the JS links.

    If you are considering opening a program at CJ, please do your homework and read the many recent posts here regarding LMI. In addition, I encourage you to contact other CJ merchants personally and see what they are saying. Then make an informed decision.

    Disclaimer: The information provided above is a compilation of posts and information presented here by affiliates and merchants from various forums and is meant to educate merchants so they can make their own informed decision.
    Last edited by Ron Bechdolt; August 10th, 2006 at 11:42 AM.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  2. #2
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7-days
    The information provided above is a copulation of posts and information
    I think you meant compilation... copulation is what CJ is doing to their affiliates and merchants.

    Great post.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Oh, you are right. Wonder what I was thinking????

    I fixed it but left your post (cause it hits the mark).
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  4. #4
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    Thanks for writing such a great article, I totally agree 100%

    You should realize that affiliates have no union, no organized body to represent them to the networks.
    What would we do without this forum, we have to be able to work together in this industry, if your serous about it as a long term business like myself then I care about these issues as they really reflect our business.
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  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I just want to add another comment regarding CJ and that is their Ask A Question (AAQ) support department. For years it was the best in the business and one almost always got a response within 72 hours, but since ValueClick took over and LMI was announced, it has gone from good to bad to horrible. If you are a merchant and are paying big bucks for your program at CJ, please realize that CJ support is now taking weeks to answer affiliates instead of days and even then the reponses are more canned than supportive. Not sure about merchants, but I have heard and seen posted here that they are equally frustrated.

    Even my dedicated CJ representative has not answered an email I sent over a month ago.
    Last edited by Ron Bechdolt; August 10th, 2006 at 01:37 PM.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    CJ is on its last leg - I hope the merchants are smart enough to take heed.
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  7. #7
    Newbie BinkyM's Avatar
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    I'd like to add for folks who're new merchants and don't know what "CJ" means, it's Commission Junction.

    (It's always good to define an acronym once because not everyone knows 'em all; everyone's a newbie at everything at one point.)

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Sorry, I did real good about providing the proper abbreviations for everything else, but since I was posting this in the Commission Junction forum I thought everyone would figure that out.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  9. #9
    Newbie BinkyM's Avatar
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    7-days:

    since I was posting this in the Commission Junction forum I thought everyone would figure that out
    Yeah, but you *know* someone's gonna copy and paste it somewhere else, and there'll be no explanation in it. (It was a really good message, and really good messages get disseminated like dried dandelions!)

    (Someone did that in some other forums recently; they posted a message with THREE acronyms I'd never heard before, and it was a *fascinating* message with lotsa juicy gossip, but I was left having to meekly ask what the three acronyms stood for. In the end, it turned out I was familiar with all three things the acronyms stood for, but out of context, I had no idea, and was embarrassed at having to ask, feeling like a total noob for being forced to do so.)

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    In addition to this post, I have been emailing back each and every request from merchants at CJ asking me to join their programs. I give them a short reason why I am not currently joining any CJ programs until JS is no longer the default and I direct them to ABW as well as the petition site.

    What I find amazing is the responses. Things like, yeah we know there are problems at CJ but we hope they will resolve them. Hopefully we can educate merchants before they sign the contract with CJ so they don't have to write back excuses like that. Not sure what we can do, even a merchant like Rugman.com did not listen, but now with the news of their association with parasites (another thread this week), it may be that CJ/VC is promoting this to their merchants. I really don't know, but something is certainly not adding up.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Well, LMI required JS links will no longer be the default as of Aug. 30, according to a CJ announcement posted shortly after this thread was started. This is a good thing, but actual implementation still needs to be evaluated to see if link access is as easy and friendly as it was in the past.

    For merchants considering CJ, know that affiliates spoke very loudly about this forced change and CJ finally backed down and made JS links an option. But, there is still problems in river city...support services at CJ are at an all time low for affiliates (see link below on this subject), so if you are considering joining CJ as a merchant, be aware that affiliates are not getting their support tickets responded to in the time frame CJ is telling them they are (approx. 72 hours). This is, of course, not as serious as tracking problems, etc, but just the same you should be aware that CJ is not providing the full services to their affiliates in a timely fashion like the other affiliate networks at the current time.

    As an affiliate, I would be somewhat understanding if CJ was communicating to its affiliates and merchants what is causing these delays, but there has been no word on this for many weeks now. I, for one, have been experiencing greater than two week delays on support requests for over two months, so this is not an isolated issue.

    For those wishing to comment further about support delays, please post in this forum: http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread.php?t=77589
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  12. #12
    Member karomesis's Avatar
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    I think you meant compilation... copulation is what CJ is doing to their affiliates and merchants.


    thanks for the laugh Donuts.

    you know what would be really funny is an pWn3d thread with CJ on the recieving end. maybe showing some serious proof of various shenanigans.

  13. #13
    Outsourced Program Manager Affiliate Eagle's Avatar
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    Many interesting points brought up in your article. Great job taking out the time to write your thoughts concerning the networks.

    Emilio-ARC

  14. #14
    Affiliate Manager Maim133's Avatar
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    Solutions?
    As a fairly new affiliate manager I was asked on day one whether to scrap CJ and go exclusive to LS, but instead decided to use multiple networks and utilize Performics as well as CJ. Will Performics cover the holes in JS and affiliate exodus that CJ is creating?

    Any suggestions or other networks that aren't exclusive?

  15. #15
    Pimp Duck popdawg's Avatar
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    pot meet kettle


    only about ten thousand threads on this but consider shareasale.
    Now, change "consider" with "go with."
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  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maim133
    As a fairly new affiliate manager I was asked on day one whether to scrap CJ and go exclusive to LS, but instead decided to use multiple networks and utilize Performics as well as CJ. Will Performics cover the holes in JS and affiliate exodus that CJ is creating?

    Any suggestions or other networks that aren't exclusive?
    I'm not sure you are doing yourself any favors by spreading yourself so thin over so many networks. Those that do multiple usually only do a couple of networks. Remember, this is not like an advertising campaign where you try to hit all the different areas. What you are trying to do here is find a network that works well with it's affilaites (like SAS), works well at promoting you to it's affiliates, and then provides great support to the merchant and affiliates (again, SAS is my suggestion).

    Always remember that if you go with LinkShare, you cannot use any other networks or inhouse programs. They are very restrictive to the point of some merchants feeling trapped when things don't go well.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  17. #17
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    Performics is good. Also CJ has decided not to go JS only.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7-days
    I just want to add another comment regarding CJ and that is their Ask A Question (AAQ) support department. For years it was the best in the business and one almost always got a response within 72 hours, but since ValueClick took over and LMI was announced, it has gone from good to bad to horrible. If you are a merchant and are paying big bucks for your program at CJ, please realize that CJ support is now taking weeks to answer affiliates instead of days and even then the reponses are more canned than supportive. Not sure about merchants, but I have heard and seen posted here that they are equally frustrated.

    Even my dedicated CJ representative has not answered an email I sent over a month ago.
    I'm still pretty new, 9 months, but I have been asking more questions and found that instead of answering what seemed to happen was I got the auto responder, then I would get another message saying we hope to answer you in 72 hours, then finally I'd get another 72 hour or we hope to answer you soon message AND then somewhere in one of the messages it mentions something to the effect: "Hey, do you still have this problem? If so, just tell us,if not, this is solve." I didn't discover it until today. The question was placed in the "solved" status. I now know to keep on them and actually read the form letters. I would gladly consider another AM site if they had the merchants I wanted.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I did a followup on an open, unresolved ticket I think the forgot about. Shortly after wards I got an autoresponse today saying it would soon be closed and they would consider it finished unless they heard from me. What the heck, they just heard from me an hour or two before they sent that.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  20. #20
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Bink - don't ever feel like a fool asking anything. There may be those few who will make fun or condescend - but that's their shortcoming - not yours! If you have a question the best thing to do is ask it and get the answer.

    BTW, while we are on the topic of getting answers - I found your analogy about disseminating dandelions interesting. I've never disseminated a dandelion but come spring I'll give it a try!!
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  21. #21
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    Talking 7-days
    If cj is not a good choice what program would you recommand for a newbie affiliate that has over 215 websites ready to pull commisions ?

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Null,

    CJ has long been a good network, they just did some stupid things once the new owners came in and I think they are now backstepping to resolve some of these issues in order to retain their merchants and affiliates. Now that JS links are no longer the default, I would recommend them to newbies as they do have a nice system in place. But if all things were equal regarding ease of links, datafeeds, etc, I'd recommend SAS over CJ because they protect you from parasites trying to steal your sales. CJ is not doing that and has nown merchants in bed with parasites.

    But you have to find out what works for you. I started this post at a time CJ was not being merchant or affilaite friendly and its purpose was to educate merchants considering CJ so they could make informed decisions.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
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  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Akiva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7-days
    Null,
    But you have to find out what works for you.
    Exactly. I've seen some merchants do really well on one network and some do piss-poor on another. Each network has benefits the other one doesn't have. A wise merchant will do their due-diligence and make the best decision for their business. Or they can contact folks like myself who know the advantages and pitfalls of each and will point them in the right direction. (FYI I do not charge for this advice - send me a PM or email.)
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  24. #24
    Online Marketing Consultant
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    So what is the major issue with java links instead of Legacy (html) The fear is that it will not track? I am a current CJ merchant and would like to know what the fear is.

    Thanks.

  25. #25
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    Lots of issues but they're keeping html so all is well on that front.

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