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  1. #1
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    There's been a lot of discussion spread throughout the board about merchant's with short cookie durations. Specific merchants have been mentioned here and there. I've found that as look for merchants to feel a specific need over time I wind up looking at some of the same merchants over and over again. They tend to blur after awhile or my memory fails. So I've started compiling a list of merchants with very short cookies to use as a screen.

    I'll be posting the list here. It's by no means finished, and I will continue to add to the list. It's meant purely as a reference for anyone who may want to use it. It in no reflects how effective a particular merchant may be and is intended only as one piece of information about a merchant's program. I have listed merchants with less than a 15 day cookie duration. Do with the information what you will. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    6 Figure Jobs 5 days
    Shoe Carnival 0 days
    LPGAProShop 1 day
    Store.AtlantaFalcons 1 day
    Store.HoustonTexans 1 day
    MVP.com 1 day
    Novica 14 days
    HappyFeetPlus 10 days
    WellBeing (from Boots) 1 day
    BodyJewelry.com 7 days
    Snapfish 1 day
    InterArt.com 7 days
    MisterArt 1 day
    BlueLight.com (Kmart) 0 days
    ContactMusic.com 2 days
    The Eastwood Company 7 days
    WarrantyGold 1 day
    CarSmart.com 1 day
    AutoBarn.com 10 days
    AutoWeb.com 1 day
    DoubleDiscount.com 1 day
    PlayCentric 7 days
    Conde Nast Publications 1 day
    MyFree.com, Inc 7 days
    TotalCampus.com 3 days
    MovieGallery.com 1 day
    Ayn Rand Bookstore 1 day
    Pax Store (store.pax.tv) 0 days
    TvLand.com 0 days
    Nickoldeon Store 0 days
    AllRecipes.com 3 days
    The Golf Channel Store 0 days
    Proven Formula 1 day
    A and A Resume 7 days
    Salary.com 10 days
    Argos Additions 10 days
    Marshall Ward 10 days
    Little Woods Extra 14 days
    CWDkids 7 days
    Frederick’s of Hollywood 7 days
    Earth’s Speak Organic Fashion 14 days
    Size Appeal 7 days
    Alight.com 1 day
    Hot Topic 4 days
    Planet Glasses 1 day
    Marks and Spence 7 days
    Sunglasses Portal 3 days
    Bidz.com 10 days
    YouCanSave.com 1 days
    IDT Long Distance and Global Call Card 14 days
    North American Bancard 1 day
    Get Connected.com 7 days
    PulseTV 7 days
    Crucial Technology 10 days
    00Phones.com 7 days
    MillionBuy.com 14 days
    JustDeals.com 1 day
    Etronics 14 days
    Palm.com 14 days
    Ahernstore.com 1 day
    SimplyWireless.com 7 days
    FreeShop.com 1 day
    Certified Wireless Network Professional 14 days

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    You can add in 80% of ALL the Befree merchants who also refuse to answer e-mails to devulge the number of days. At Linkshare they do post the cookie days and there are a lot of majors there like Walmart -Dell and others with Zero cookie days. LS at least is trying to pressure merchants to up their cookies. Continuing revenue streams from affiliate referrals is a sore subject with merchants who liked one shot click sales like CPM banner Ad traffic. They consider they own your referral traffic once they reach their site and will do anything to capture them for later pocket picking with a see Ya later sucker attitude.

  3. #3
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    Hi BestLittleFreeHouse

    Did a quick scan to see if Mondera was there by Accident [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    We offer 30 day standard but our private special offer on LinkShare, for ABW members only, has 45 days.

    Cheers

    Chris

  4. #4
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    On this cookie length thing...I'm sort of wondering, why not set it at a year? I'd say forever, but the longest you can set a cookie for is 365 days. Longest for CJ? Not sure, might be 180, which is our current setting.

    But seriously, if you believe in the marketing partner relationship, shouldn't the affiliate own that customer forever? I'm just sort of noodling this around in my head, because I need to make a compelling argument to my partner before I go increasing it again. Thoughts?

    I know the majority of sales happen within 14 days, but still, it's about the relationship.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador
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    I'm pretty sure the maximum cookie duration at CJ is 5 years (approx 1825 days).
    Maybe an alternative list to compile would be the merchants that allow the cookie to live after the first initial sale.
    If only that info was available...

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador
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    Crucial 10
    Calloway 5
    1 Stop florist 15
    Half 15
    Shelpers 15
    Golfshoesplus 10
    KB kids 1 day
    All Global Sports 1 day.

    There's some.....time to go to bed for me.

  7. #7
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>*what John said*<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    John you should be canonized as a saint! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Merchants need to understand, as you obviously do; the more you do to help affiliates reap the rewards of their efforts, the more the affilates will do to promote you.

    Thank you John.

  8. #8
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by John Bresee:
    [QB]
    But seriously, if you believe in the marketing partner relationship, shouldn't the affiliate own that customer forever? I'm just sort of noodling this around in my head, because I need to make a compelling argument to my partner before I go increasing it again. Thoughts?[QB]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    I'm pondering the same thing, for Mondera most of our long term customers will buy maybe once or twice a year for small items and once a lifetime (if they are lucky) for the expensive engagement ring.

    The head of marketing though is likely to hit me with a "we don't pay the networks twice for a customer aquisition"... which is generally true...however by the end of next month I hope to be outselling the networks via our affiliate partners and therefore have justification of low CPAC to say "upside is happy affiliates.....what's the down side" and take the point.

    Cheers

    Chris

  9. #9
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>The head of marketing though is likely to hit me with a "we don't pay the networks twice for a customer aquisition"... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It is a purely semantic issue.

    Try calling it a "sales commission".

    The difference here will make the difference in whether you get:

    A: Affiliates who post a link or two which may or may not occasionally generate a sale.

    or

    B: Affiliates who will develop entire sites exclusively or primarily featuring your products, continually driving a steady stream of traffic and sales to you.


    [speling]

    [ 08-18-2002: Message edited by: CJ_Broken ]

  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador webmarm's Avatar
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>"we don't pay the networks twice for a customer aquisition"... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You're at LS, so you might have this sort of option, not sure: pay a lower commish on returning customers, but pay. That way you pay the higher amount on the customer acquisition, but you motivate your affiliates to drive customers to you since any repeat purchases will be residual income for the affiliate.

    Just a thought, since a merchant asked me recently what I thought of the idea (they don't seem to understand how to put cookiekeep=yes at cj).

  11. #11
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    When I devulged the importance of cookie duration on conversion ratios well over a year ago to the network CEO's they were caught in a trap. If they did nothing about it like BeFree they went down hill on affiliate recruitment. At that time IBM released an 1 year study showing the average purchaser of any item on their site took 7 visits over 31 days to make the purchase. IBM has 1 day cookies at BeFree ..go figure.

  12. #12
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    Good list bestlittlefreehouse.

    As a business owner who also runs affiliate sites, I can tell you that I feel burned everytime I do business with a company with no return days who wont tell me they have no return days.

    My solutions to the 4 things that burn my butt as an affiliate:

    * 180-365 day cookies - I found the customer and sent them to you Mr/Mrs merchant instead of your competition.

    * NO WRITE OVER - I found them first so if anybody gets paid it should be me.

    * Toll Free Support - I don't have questions/Issues often but when I do they are large enough to want an answer in a very short time so I can continue working (at least give me a direct email address [tip-affiliates@somecompany.com is not direct] and an answering machine so I FEEL like someone is really there).

    * Monthly check with no minimum - You got your money...send me mine.

    While I would agree some of these policies are much easier for a small company, they are "do-able" for all companies.

    Of course, I also do not have obstacles to overcome (a boss to explain why we are doing it that way..a department head that doesn't get it..bean counters..you get the picture) so I do appreciate the job a strong affiliate manager is doing when they effect positive change in programs of larger companies.

    just my .02

    larry

  13. #13
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    Pete is right about CJ's cookie duration, and there are a couple of Merchants that have picked a number like that.

    What an awesome incentive to be able to set a longer cookie was a first sale has been made! This is unfortunately counter to what many merchants want, that is to own the customer. We don't fit into the "owning" part of the equation for most merchants.

    Fred

  14. #14
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    There is a downside to longer cookies... if merchants operate a no-overwrite policy (i.e. the earlier cookie remains and the newer cookie doesn't get set when a visitor goes to a store via Site A and later via site B) then gradually it will become harder and harder for affiliates to make sales.

    Imagine an ecommerce site with a 12-month no-override cookie and a reasonable track record of converting sales. Now imagine that one of the mega-sites with BILLIONS of spare unsold ad impressions a month (e.g. Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail etc.) runs a few hundred million ads for that merchant...

    ... suddenly, you've taken hundreds of thousands of potential customers "off the table" as far as affiliates are concerned, since for the next 12 months all those people are going around with their Yahoo! (or AOL or Hotmail etc.) cookie set and so even if you send them back to the merchant (or even back to the merchant MANY times) the original mega-site will get the credit for the sale if it occurs within 12 months.

    Another thing to consider is the whole "use of cookies" thing. If a merchant really wants to play things 100% straight with affiliates and e.g. make sure that ALL subsequent sales during a 6-month period get credited to the affiliate that brought the new customer, then they should set a field inside their back-end ecommerce cart/database containing a unique affiliate ID, and when the customer logs into the site for future purchases they're already identified as "belonging" to Affiliate X.

    This gets around the problem of lost, deleted and damaged cookies, of customers logging in from public machines or different browsers (i.e. from places where the cookie is no longer present) etc.

    The other problem surrounding longer cookies is the issue (partially covered in the above) that essentially you're moving to a model that only rewards affiliates for bringing NEW customers to merchants.

    Right now, I believe that you get commission from e.g. Amazon if you send John Smith through a link on your site to buy a particular book, and that Amazon will pay somebody else a commission tomorrow if they send the same John Smith to Amazon via a different link to buy a different product. This model would no longer work if affiliates were credited for sales for e.g. 180 days.

    I'm certainly not AGAINST longer cookies and more participation by affiliates in a particular merchant's success, but the above issues also have to be confronted head-on and resolved... somehow!

    [ 08-18-2002: Message edited by: Edwin ]

  15. #15
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    I don't understand a lot of these cookie arguments.

    1) It seems to me a good affiliate program has a combination of high payout and good service. Cookie duration is an indicator of potential high payment but not high payment in and of itself. EPC is also an indicator to help evaluate whether or not payout will be high, but it is not payout.

    The one and only metric that evaluates payout is EPM. Increasing cookie duration and improving conversion will boost EPM for a particular program, but they have a fairly low correlation across programs.

    2) What's the main reason for wanting longer cookies? I think there are two answers to this question: a) to get multiple sales, and b) to counter long sales cycles. Whether or not an affiliate should receive payment on multiple sales is debatable (see below), but having durations shorter than the average sales cycle seems like an obvious suckers-play.

    Still, though, EPM overrules. If I have a product has a median 4-week sales cycle, and one merchant uses 4 week cookies, the affiliate will not receive payment on half the sales. However, if that merchant offers more than double the payment of a competing merchant in the same sector, it will still be a better deal. I think some affiliates focus too much on getting "cheated" out of individual sales, and not enough on the bottom line.

    3) Another poster commented that it is a matter of semantics whether affiliates get paid a sales commission or a marketing fee for customer acquisition. I think this is a lot more than semantics but goes to the heart of the cookie duration debate. It certainly dictates whether cookies should over-write or not. Further, I think it varies by program.

    4) In sum, I think cookie duration and over-write rules should vary by program. The only thing that really matters is EPM. The structure of an affiliate program will help you estimate potential EPM, but the only way to know how the apple tastes is to bite into it.

    [ 08-18-2002: Message edited by: figment88 ]

  16. #16
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    Personally.......

    As long as it's over 7 days or more, I'm fairly happy.

    When I care about cookies, is when paying for traffic.

    Global Sports, Bluelight, KB kids, aren't in my opinion really worth buying traffic for.

    A longer cookie is nice.....most on Cj I seen are 45 days. Nothing wrong with that.

    But Personally a merchant that can convert is the best, cookies is one of the last things I look at when deciding on a merchant. But of course someone with a 7 day or 3 day will of course come up on top over a 1 day cookie, or none.


    It would be nice to have yes cookie, and if I was too buy a shirt from Big dogs today, and then I decide tomorrow I should buy one for a friend, go back directly to their website, and buy another,.....within their cookie duration, It would be nice to get that comission.

    Life time commissions are good and bad. They have their place, but I certainly wouldn't want the whole internet marketing to go that route.

    And I certainly wouldn't want the first affiiate who has the cookie to win over the last affiliate who has the cookie with in a time frame cookie.

  17. #17
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    >>In sum, I think cookie duration and over-write rules should vary by program. The only thing that really matters is EPM.<<

    I agree 100%. I have several successful zero-day merchants, but I wouldn't even consider promoting a furniture merchant with zero-day cookies.

    It ticks me off when a merchant lowers cookies and then spouts the "well, most sales occur within 30 seconds of the first click" rhetoric (oh yeah, why not leave the cookie alone then?), but that's more of a "just how dumb do you think I am?" irritation then anything else.

    Do I think a longer cookie means more sales? Most of the time, yeah. Do I think the cookie-issue is HIGHLY overrated? Most of the time, yeah.

    But that's just my .02

  18. #18
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    Amazon has 90% customer return rate. If the affiliate owned the customers they sent, they would be building a lifelong revenue stream--assuming they also continued a relationship with that merchant.

    When we buy from a manufacturer, we place the initial order with the sales reps. Most orders after that go through an in-house rep, not the outside sales guy. Yet the sales guy continues to get a cut of whatever orders we place. Why shouldn't the affiliate? It seems that is a more accurate description of the relationship. However, our sales reps provide us with continuing service, advice, etc...meaning the relationship continues. And that's the way it should be with affiliates.

    [ 08-18-2002: Message edited by: John Bresee ]

  19. #19
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    >>However, our sales reps provide us with continuing service, advice, etc...meaning the relationship continues.<<

    Given the customer has now found amazon, what continuing service/advice do think the affiliate should/could provide?

  20. #20
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    I really appreciate this discussion and the airing of differing POVs.

    IMO, not providing a cookie is persuasive evidence that the merchant is not affiliate friendly, and that not much emphasis is placed on affiliate marketing is under their business plan.

    A merchant's policy regarding cookies is indicative of its attitude toward affiliates as much as anything else.

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